OHIO Compass: “Flat Webster” Travels the World, Connects HTC Alumni

From riding on a motorcycle taxi in Cotonou, Benin to teaching anatomy at Brown University, Dean of the Honors Tutorial College (HTC) Jeremy Webster tagged along with HTC alumni for many adventures and professional endeavors this year.

Well, almost.

“Flat Webster” was the vehicle to announce the formation of theHonors Tutorial College Society of Alumni and Friends to its members. Recalling a popular initiative from the chain-letter days called “Flat Stanley,” HTC society leadership decided to modernize the idea as a way to engage HTC alumni with the new organization.

A large postcard with Dean Webster’s face on the front was sent to all HTC alumni, which included information about the new society’s upcoming events and initiatives on the back. Alumni were encouraged to post pictures with “Flat Webster” to the OHIO HTC Alumni Facebook page for a chance to win a free t-shirt.

Mariah Wood, who graduated from the HTC in 2013, said she was excited to see a familiar face in her mailbox. Wood took “Flat Webster” to one of her data sonde sites, where she studied the effects of acid mine drainage on macroinvertebrate communities.

Mariah Wood

“Flat Webster” helped Mariah Wood, who graduated from the HTC in 2013, collect data sondes for her doctoral research.

Photo courtesy of: Mariah Wood via Facebook

“I had seen some really fun and impressive Flat Webster posts, but I hadn’t seen any in my place of work or in settings of scientific research,” Wood said. “I spent most of the summer in creeks helping to collect data, and I wanted that kind of place — and that kind of work — to be represented.”

In five weeks, “Flat Webster” was photographed in Africa, at the wedding of two HTC graduates, on vacation in Costa Rica and many more. Webster, who loved the idea and kept an eye on the submissions as they were posted, said his personal favorite entry was alumna Rachel Collin’s series of photos from her trip to New York City.

“New York City is my happy place, so it was great to see “Flat Webster” at a deli, on the metro, in Times Square with Elmo, etc.,” Webster said. “If I couldn’t be there myself, at least my picture could be!”

Although there were nearly 20 “Flat Webster” contest entries, the HTC Society of Alumni and Friends’ executive committee chose 10 winners to receive a free HTC t-shirt. According to Katrina Heilmeier, associate director of campus relations for the OHIO Alumni Association, the “Flat Webster” initiative encouraged alumni to connect with one another in an entertaining way.

“This was an innovative and unique way to engage alumni and let them share their story and connect with others. The contest felt very organic, and allowed alumni to use their own creativity,” Heilmeier said. “This campaign also successfully re-engaged alumni to this group, and they have remained engaged with the Facebook community.”

Micah McCarey, president of the HTC Society of Alumni and Friends, said the original “Flat Stanley” concept after which “Flat Webster” is modeled, inspired the HTC campaign as the leadership team as they brainstormed new ideas to include members in activities that don’t require traveling back to campus.

“The days of “Flat Stanley” and snail-mail chain letters may be long gone since the birth of social media, but finding ways to blend engagement strategic of the past and present serves as an effective means of engaging alumni from across generations,” McCarey said.

This month, alumni can participate in a sentimental project within the OHIO HTC Alumni and Friends Facebook group. Members are encouraged to post pictures, notes or haikus related to their love for OHIO throughout the month of February for a chance to win HTC or OHIO merchandise.

While a date has not yet been set for another “Flat Webster” contest, HTC alumni are encouraged to join the Facebook group and be on the lookout for similar programs.

“I hope the HTC Society of Alumni and Friends does it again this year — but perhaps with a different picture!” Webster said.

Buckenmeyer Siblings

“Flat Webster” helped the Buckenmeyer siblings recreate the Natural Bridge in Virginia.

Photo courtesy of: Buckenmeyer siblings via Facebook

This article was originally posted on Ohio University’s Compass on Feb. 9, 2016. To view the original article, click here. This article was written by Kaitlyn Pacheco.

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