Today@Sam Article

A Novel Idea: Alumni Association Launches Virtual Book Club

Sept. 25, 2020
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney


Staying physically distant, yet connected, remains a challenge during the coronavirus health crisis. However, the Office of Alumni Relations at Sam Houston State University is unyielding in their efforts to support current and former students by offering innovative ways to strengthen ties and create meaningful connections with their alma mater.

One silver lining to emerge from the pandemic, is the return to reading. Since many people are confined to their homes, individuals are finding themselves putting down their electronic devices and picking up a book. For this reason, the Office of Alumni Relations decided that now was the perfect opportunity to launch a virtual book club for SHSU alumni.

While the idea for an alumni book club had been discussed previously, the current environment accelerated the conversation, prompting a partnership with Professional Book Club (PBC) Guru, a book club management company that has worked with hundreds of other businesses, alumni associations and professional societies.

“Our hope with the book club is to foster engagement with our alumni at a time when sense of community is more important than ever and there is a lack of in-person events and activities,” Charlie Vienne, associate vice president for Alumni Relations said. “It is important to provide the best experience possible for our alumni. After much discussion with a small internal committee, as well as with other alumni associations across the nation, the Alumni Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to move forward with one of the top names in the industry, PBC Guru. Their track record for successfully engaging with participants made for an easy decision.”

The book club will connect through a private forum where all participants can network and discuss the current selection. It will be free to all SHSU alumni, faculty and staff, although each person will need to purchase the books to read on their own.  Members will read one book every two months covering themes and formats like lifelong learning, social justice, personal growth, memoirs, non-fiction, etc.

October 15 is the official start date of reading period one and the sign-up sheet is available online at Interested readers can now join, learn more, and get details about the first book, “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles.

Though there will not be any in-person meetings, the online forums will help facilitate engagement from alumni around the world.

“As the alumni association at an institution for Higher Education we strongly support the idea of being a lifelong learner and connecting with other alumni. Our partnership with PBC Guru will provide our alumni with a private online forum where members can discuss the current book and network with each other. We hope this interaction will provide an avenue for alumni to connect, who may have not been involved with the alumni association events and activities previously,” Vienne said. “This is simply another avenue for alumni to be engaged with the university we all love so much.”

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