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Prof. Dr. Axel R. Pries

An interview with the Dean

Prof. Dr. Axel Radlach Pries

  • Dean of Charité
  • Responsibility for Fundraising & Alumni Office
  • Member of the Executive Board with the remit for research
  • Head of the Faculty Board
  • Chair of the Faculty Council

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Charité establishes central Alumni Network

The concept behind the ‘Charité Alumni’ network is to create a service that is not just aimed at former staff and students, but anyone who feels a close connection with Charité. In his interview, Prof. Dr. Radlach Pries explains what is behind this idea. (09.2018)

Professor Pries – until now, alumni affairs had been in the hands of the Alumni Club. Why has Charité decided to establish a new Alumni Network?
The Alumni Club, which has been in existence since 2003, was established as an external association. Its aim was to build a bridge between the Faculty, with all of its students, and Charité alumni. The association has been responsible for a great deal of pioneering work and has, until now, served as the coordinating office for alumni affairs. However, the association’s voluntary status limits the scope of what is feasible. The Executive Board has therefore taken the landmark decision to establish Charité’s own central Alumni Network.

How is the area of alumni affairs organized?
As the office with the remit for alumni affairs, the responsibility for the Network’s development and organization rests with the Fundraising & Alumni Office. The Alumni Club remains an important partner in this regard, and both its members and its alumni services now form part of the central network which operates under the name ‘Charité Alumni’.

What is the target audience of ‘Charité Alumni’?
Charité is a highly diverse environment. The concept of ‘alumni’ should therefore not be restricted to former students and researchers. While we will initially focus on these more traditional target groups, we see the term ‘alumni’ as covering a far wider spectrum and are keen to see the Network include all those who feel they have a connection with Charité. People with ties to Charité might include nursing and administrative staff, as well as external donors and patrons. A more comprehensive alumni concept enables us to include a larger number of individuals and contributors with their many and varied personal and professional circumstances. The idea here is that the Network will provide the over-arching superstructure which will enable interested groups and individuals to connect and organize (or form separate) alumni groups, which can then use the Network to connect with other groups.

What are the aims of this new, refocused alumni strategy?
All those who support the alumni aims and ideals are encouraged to forge a lifelong connection with Charité. Charité boasts a community of highly qualified and supremely committed people. We want members of this community to work as Charité ambassadors and as a network of experts. At the same time, we want them to be able to benefit from the exchange of information, knowledge and experience involved. To this end, we are planning to establish local and regional alumni groups all over the world. While this network strengthens the work of Charité and enhances its reputation, its primary effect is to provide its members with a system of mutual support.

What will be the services and benefits involved?
The motivation to maintain a connection with the Alumni Network will only exist if members feel the network provides added value and benefits. This is why the Alumni Office will be developing a range of attractive support options. Some of these will focus on career development and guidance and will include mentoring and training courses. There will also be discounts as part of the university’s sports program, loyalty scheme benefits and the option of an alumni email address for life. Central building blocks will of course include networking and information services, an Alumni portal, regular Alumni meetings, lecture series, a social media presence and an Alumni newsletter. 

It sounds like there is a comprehensive plan to implement a vision.
Yes, Charité’s work in the area of alumni affairs follows a long-term plan and is guided by the motto ‘realizing connectedness’. This vision highlights the emotional aspect of our connection. Together we are as one, and we experience Charité as a community. Individuals will only develop a positive emotional connection if they experience connectedness in their day-to-day lives, such as through good teaching and role models, including from dedicated professors and lecturers. Empathy also plays a major role.

How can we achieve the subjective feeling of being treated fairly and well?
Alumni-related issues concern Charité as a whole. These are issues that cannot be dealt with exclusively by the Executive Board or the Fundraising & Alumni Office. In order to turn this into a success we will also need the help of those who come into contact with potential and/or actual alumni. It is the only way to ensure Charité’s Alumni Network develops into a strong and unmistakable brand. Together we can accomplish more.