WHAT IS A SIG? The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) definition of a Shared Interest Group (SIG) is any collection of Harvard University alumni who actively engage in communicating and/or gathering around a central unifying purpose, mission, background or activity beyond class affiliation or regional proximity.
WHAT DO SIGs DO? Thirty SIGs connect thousands of alumni across the country and around the world to each other, to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, and to the University and its resources through local programming, programs at Harvard, list-servs, and websites.
HOW ARE SIGs ORGANIZED TO PROMOTE ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT? Unlike Harvard Clubs, SIGs are formed without regard for geographical boundaries, although SIGs may have regional chapters. SIGs emerge organically from existing alumni interest and affiliation. Like regional Clubs, SIGs cut across boundaries of Harvard school and class affiliation, allowing alumni to customize their HAA experience to an unprecedented degree. SIGs encourage Harvard graduates to connect to Harvard friends, alumni, and students from across the University over wide-anging personal and professional interests, whether or not these stem directly from their Harvard experience. SIGs have proven to be enormously successful in engaging alumni who have otherwise chosen not to affiliate with the HAA or engage in its programming; increasingly, SIG membership and activity creates new entry points for broader HAA affiliation and engagement.
WHAT KINDS OF SIGs CURRENTLY EXIST? There are currently more than 30 HAA-recognized SIGs (click here for the full list and contact information) engaging alumni across geography and generations. They range from shared professional interests, personal interests, identity groups, ethnicity, religious affiliation, undergraduate activity, undergraduate experience, and a variety of other shared interests. Examples of current SIGs include Harvard Crimson Alumni/ae Professionals in Sports, Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance, Harvard Alumni Partnerships to Advance NonProfits, Harvard Jewish Alumni Network, Harvard Alumni Alliance for the Environment, Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Alumni Networking Society, and Phillips Brooks House Association Alumni.
WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES DO SIGs ENGAGE IN? SIGs support undergraduate organizations and tours (Harvard Glee Club Foundation); keep undergraduate activity alive (Harvard Student Agencies Alumni); provide career mentoring, jobs and internships (Harvardwood and their connection with the Office of Career Services); offer smaller subset reunions (Harvard Gay & Lesbian Caucus and Harvard Black Alumni Society ) and intimate enclaves at June and other reunions (Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs and Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization); and provide new alumni candidate names for HAA committees, honors and awards, and admissions.
HOW DO THE HAA AND ITS VOLUNTEER COMMITTEES SUPPORT SIGs? SIGs come under the aegis of the HAA; they receive services (annual update of member contact information, space on the HAA website and other online tools, opportunity to participate in the Speakers Bureau, Early College Awareness, and Summer Community Service Fellowship Programs, inclusion in the HAA eVENTS newsletter) in return for adherence to HAA SIG guidelines, operating procedures, and annual reporting requirements. The HAA encourages collaboration among SIGs, Harvard Clubs, Classes, Graduate Schools, and HAA committees.
HOW ARE SIGs STRUCTURED, FUNDED, AND GOVERNED? Individual SIGs are structured differently, but all have boards, bylaws, representation on the HAA website, and programming for members. They are all independently governed and independently financed organizations. Membership ranges from several hundred to several thousand alumni, and undergraduates are increasingly turning to SIGs as a tool for drawing alumni back to campus. In order to cover overhead costs and provide programming, a number of the SIGs have opted to charge dues. The HAA does not provide funding to SIGs, Clubs, or Classes.
HOW DO I JOIN OR FORM A SIG AND FIND OUT MORE? Alumni interested in forming a SIG should review the SIG Policy and SIG Manual. You may also contact Lauren Brodsky, HAA Assistant Director for Clubs & SIGs, at (617) 496-0493 or lauren_brodsky@ harvard.edu