Hello, I'm ringing from Keble and I wonder if..."
The five students on the phones already seem to have acquired a corporate telephone manner. The Development Office is consumed by a quiet yet purposeful hubbub, as a sizeable list of telephone numbers is taken out of the in-tray and dialled.
"When were you last back at Keble? Do you receive The Record? Do you like the brick? (Aargh!) What are you doing now? Are you enjoying it?"
It's all very phlegmatic and conversational. They call it 'Telebonding' and it forms part of an appeal by the College to its Alumni for financial help with projects connected with the College's new ARCO building.
The telethon was launched in the wake of the death last year, of Jean Robinson, former appeals coordinator, both as an experiment and as the final stage of fundraising for the new building. And it seems to have been, by all accounts, highly successful. Including tax perks, over £160 000 has now been pledged, of which £135 000 has already been received. The costs of paying the students and phone bills are negligible beside this colossal total. Roger Boden, Keble's Development Director, has described the project as "a great success".
"Old Members received two letters, one from the Warden, and one from Lord Wilson (the ex-Governor of Hong Kong and President of the Keble Association) before we started telephoning. Since then, the feedback has been extremely positive. Of course, there were some Old Members who asked not to be phoned or disapproved of the approach for various reasons, but the vast majority of people have been very receptive."
Project Director Allison Kughn paid tribute to the students who participated in the exercise. "They have been extremely efficient and competent. I have been impressed by how well they have handled the work."
The students were paid £5 per hour for their trouble and a group of twelve took part. Most enjoyed the experience. "It's generally been quite fun. Most people are delighted to have a chat with someone from their old college. Sometimes people are a bit annoyed, but only very rarely," said first year biologist, Emma Giddings. So, cash and CV points for students, money for the Jean Robinson Room and friendly conversation for you... sounds good, eh?
the brick issue 4 - Trinity Term 1995
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