Featured Fellow | Jessica Vanderlelie

27th February 2018

Featured Fellow

Our featured fellow for March / April is 2015 OLT National teaching Fellow Professor Jessica Vanderlelie.

Supporting student transition to the world of work has been a passion of Professor Jessica Vanderlelie for more than a decade. In her role at the Griffith University School of Medical Science, Jessica began developing an alumni network that now has more than 1700 members. This network has been instrumental in supporting the School to deliver embedded employability experiences, and shaping Jessica’s firmly held belief that alumni engagement must be earnt and always be of benefit to the alumnus. Since 2015, Jessica has been leading a national fellowship titled ‘Engaging Alumni for Gradate Success’ and exploring academic staff, student and alumni professional’s perceptions of the value of alumni and the key challenges for maintaining authentic alumni communities.

Across the course of the fellowship, Jessica has deeply engaged with the sector, and presented workshops and keynote presentations to over 1200 participants from 11 universities, in seven states. Extensive stakeholder engagement, both within Australia (n=457), and at 24 international universities, informed the development of the Good Practice Principles for Engaging Alumni for Student Employability, the detailed version of which can be found on the freshly updated fellowship website (www.engagingalumni.com).


Invitation to share your practice

As the fellowship enters its final phase, Jessica continues to collect examples of good practice in alumni engagement from across the sector. There is still time to contribute your work to the alumni collection and you are warmly invited to do so by contacting Jessica at j.vanderlelie@latrobe.edu.au.

These important examples of practice will be showcased within the National Innovation Case Study Collection (http://app.iru.edu.au/national-innovation-case-study-collection/) that was developed as part of Jessica’s work as the Innovative Research Universities Vice-Chancellors’ Fellow and launched by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham late 2017. With over 120 examples of best practice from across the sector this growing repository provides a useful go to place for ideas in supporting student success.


Collaborative project grants

During the final phase of the fellowship, Jessica will be launching a sector wide grants program (for projects up to $5,000 each) to support initiatives partner with alumni to support student employability. The most important aspect of these project will be a requirement to demonstrate strong collaboration with the Alumni office of the home institution. The scheme will open early March, with a deadline for submission of 1 May 2018. Please encourage your colleagues and teams to consider how they can further develop their connection with alumni and leverage this opportunity for funding. For more information please visit (www.enagingalumni.com).


The Good Practice Principles for Engaging Alumni for Student Employability have been published on the fellowship website (www.engagingalumni.com) and will form the foundation for the upcoming Good Practice Guide which is scheduled for publication in June 2018. In addition to the principles, a number of additional resources are currently available (or scheduled for release) through the site including:

  • A framework for the engaging alumni across the student lifecycle.
  • Getting started tips for academics looking to create a new network.
  • Advice on the utilisation of digital networks to establish and maintain alumni networks including a curated collection career development content to support recent graduates in the transition to the world of work – available April 2018.
  • Interactive engagement activities evaluation matrix that allows you to map out your current alumni engagement activities and assess these in terms of scalability and impact on student learning – available April 2018.

Expert in Residence –  Developing Employability

During the next month Jessica will feature as the ‘Expert in Residence’ for the Developing Employability Community of Practice (https://developingemployability.edu.au/), led by Dawn Bennett as part of her fellowship. Please join Jessica over the coming month, as the community discusses the role of alumni engagement in shaping student and graduate employability and the challenges we facing in developing and maintaining authentic alumni communities.

ALTF Student Success Blog

ALTF Student success blog, launched in December 2017 with a fantastic commentary from Professor Sally Kift (https://altf.org/student-success-blog/) on the higher education policy landscape, its challenges and the continually high-class efforts of universities across the country. The blog welcomes contributions from across the sector and is designed to provide a forum for Learning and Teaching Fellows and invited guests to share the progress of their work, in addition to contributing to the broader higher education conversation on important sector wide issues. Jessica has agreed to take on the role of Blog Editor, so please reach out to her if you are interested in contributing.