Connecting past to present with launch of new Front Gate website

By Caitriona Murphy

The Alumni Office has launched a networking site that allows graduates and former students of to connect with each other. The site, called Front Gate Online, went live this month, and aims to reconnect past students and encourage them to give support to recent graduates and current students.

Alumni are able to create a personal profile on the site, featuring details such as their course, student number, class year and photo. They can also add information such as which societies they were a member of by joining groups, and can communicate with their fellow classmates by posting “class notes”. Former classmates can also communicate via a “blind” email, which allows them to send an email whilst keeping their address private. Alumni can also register for all Alumni events from their profle, and make an online donation to the Alumni office if they wish to do so.

The site also features an enhanced element which current students can benefit from, called the Career Network. Alumni creating a profile can opt to share their career and business details. Current and past students will then be able to search the online database based on career and area of speciality, and then contact corresponding alumni for information. The feature will allow students to make contact with people in the business world, for example, who have the common connection of having attended Trinity. John Dillon, Director of the Alumni Office, commented that in the current employment market, connections are everything.

“It’s not all about a boys’ club but connecting with people.” he said. Access to the Career Network will start in January after a launch event which Dillon hopes will be open to current students as well as alumni.

The idea for the site began two and a half years ago, when all alumni records and documents were still on paper. The office decided to take a “modern approach to dealing with alumni”, and the idea of the site began to form.

Every service is now available online, making it far easier for alumni to remain in contact with the University. The site is not intended to replace Facebook or LinkedIn, but to act as a forum for students and alumni to interact. Dillon commented that alumni have a strong affinity to the college and want to support it, both financially and in an advisory role.

As a result, interest in the site has already been large, with 2500 alumni already creating a profile since the site’s launch and 80,000 page views accumulated so far. One in six of the newly registered users have opted into the Careers Network service. Dillion points out that this is without any marketing of the Careers Network, and he sees these figures as a good sign for when promotion of the feature begins.

Though designed by the Alumni Office, the site was created in a collaborative effort between the Alumni Office and College services, including the Registrar, IS Services, the Vice-Provost’s office and the Secretary’s Office. A third party, Harris Connect, were brought in to host the website.

The site was funded by the Alumni Office, who receive money from the Trinity Foundation annual administration support fee. Dillon stated that the cost of the site was minimal and it was “justified based on the service”.

Provost John Hegarty welcomed the launch, saying that “We’re delighted to be able to offer this online service. With over 90,000 alumni worldwide, it’s important they have viable means of keeping connected with the College and each other.”