Virginia Tech Magazine
Fall 2009

Find out what you think about Virginia Tech by Sherry Bithell
About the survey
Earlier this year, Virginia Tech sponsored an Alumni Attitude Study to learn more about what you think of the university's alumni programs, communications efforts, and reputation. Keep reading to learn what you think about us--or at least what we think you do.


Excellent. Strong. Innovative. Tradition. Pride. Community. Hokie. Family. Quality. Home.

These are some of the most common answers to the survey question, "What one word best describes Virginia Tech?" Other frequently cited responses include "unique," "outstanding," "foundation," "value," and "awesome!!"

The enthusiasm of Tech alumni was reflected in other questions as well. For example, when comparing Virginia Tech alumni against those of other schools, Hokies show appreciably higher rates for the frequency with which they read their alumni magazine and alumni e-mail, visit the university website, visit campus, get in touch with other alumni, and attend university sporting events.

Tech alumni also had positive memories of their experiences as students, ranking as "good" or "excellent" the university's performance in supporting academics, providing career skills and training, giving exposure to new experiences, and sharing traditions and values.

Student experience was explored in another question, "In which of the following organizations/activities did you participate as a student?" Some of the answers were surprising, including the fact that about 50 percent of alumni participated in intramural athletics and about 55 percent participated in professional or career-related activities.

Another question asked, "How well did the highest degree from the university prepare you for each of the following?" and cited current work status, commitment to lifelong learning, the ability to respond to new career opportunities, pursuing personal development, and contributing to the community. Across the board, alumni ranked each as good-to-excellent preparation.

survey chart

When asked to rate their decision to attend the university, 80 percent of alumni said that it was a "great decision," 18 percent said that it was a "good decision," 2 percent said it was a "fair decision," and no one said that it was a "bad decision." In contrast, the Virginia Tech comparables (other similar universities) rated lower: 68 percent said "great," 28 percent said "good," 3 percent said "fair," and 1 percent said "bad."

The results also show the top four factors that currently influence alumni opinion of the university: value and respect for degree, history and tradition, campus aesthetics, and accomplishments of students. Current feelings toward the university seem to be high, with almost 80 percent of alumni rating their opinion today as "excellent"; that figure was 60 percent for the Virginia Tech comparables and 52 percent for all schools. Finally, nearly 50 percent of alumni said that they promote Virginia Tech to others "all the time," versus 30 percent of the Virginia Tech comparables' alumni and 25 percent of alumni at all schools.

Virginia Tech Drillfield

The survey also provides valuable information about the way that alumni prefer to hear from their alma mater. The response to the question "How would you most like to be contacted by the university?" was overwhelmingly in favor of e-mail; more than 80 percent chose this option over the second-favored choice, mail, which was about 14 percent.

Another question targeted use of an e-mail publication, the VT NetLetter: "Which of the following best describes how you use the NetLetter?" Forty-five percent of respondents browse it, 22 percent "occasionally read it," 13 percent read all of it, and 1 percent "automatically delete it." (Nineteen percent marked "don't know, never got it.") For a breakdown of generational use of the VT NetLetter, see the chart below.

survey chart
The VT NetLetter is a free, monthly e-newsletter that is produced by University Relations and distributed by the Alumni Association to anyone who wishes to receive it.

To view the latest version online, go to To subscribe to the VT NetLetter, e-mail a request to

Finally, alumni were asked, "How important are the following to you in the Virginia Tech Magazine, and how well do we do at reporting it?" With two exceptions--"caliber of academic programs" and "campus news"--performance outranked importance.

survey chart


Because this is simply a small cross-section of the greater alumni base, we have a question for you: Are these results accurate? In other words, do you agree or disagree with some of the findings? If so, we want to hear about it--your opinion is of utmost importance to the university. Virginia Tech prides itself on the achievements and contributions of the Hokie Nation. Keep up the good work, and stay in touch.

To contribute your feedback on the survey, you can mail a letter to Virginia Tech Magazine, 105 Media Building (0109), Blacksburg, VA 24061; or send an e-mail to The magazine staff welcomes any and all communications.

War Memorial Pylons

In mid-September, the university began changing the process for alumni to access their Virginia Tech e-mail accounts. Look for details at

Do you want to keep receiving correspondence from Virginia Tech? Go to to make sure the university has your current contact information.

Be on the lookout for a survey about your communication preferences in the Spring 2010 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine.

Virginia Tech