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'Generation Alpha is coming,' alerts President Núñez at University Meeting

Published on January 17, 2024

'Generation Alpha is coming,' alerts President Núñez at University Meeting

president at podium
President Núñez spoke about Gen A at the University Meeting.

Generation Alpha will soon be going to college, and “We have to be ready to welcome the Alphas on campus,” said President Elsa Núñez to faculty and staff at the University Meeting on Jan. 16, kicking off the spring semester.

“We have to adjust to them or they won’t come,” she said of the generation representing youths born between 2010 and 2025. The successors to Gen Z (1997-2009), Gen A is deeply committed to climate change, wedded to technology and globally aware, she said, citing market research by Ologie, a higher education marketing firm.

The oldest of this two-billion-member group are on the doorstep of high school now. Fifty percent of them expect to earn a college degree. “They will be very selective about what college they attend,” she said.

Gen A’ers forged strong family connections during COVID-19 lockdowns, and they expect to have individualized attention, she said. Alphas are sometimes called “mini-Millennials” because of similar behavior, although the Gen A’ers are active rather than passive users of social media and see digital voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri as their “friends” as they access information by voice command rather than by scrolling.

Her five-year-old granddaughter, who knows letters but can’t yet write words, created her gift list for Santa by asking Siri how to spell the items. “It gave her a real sense of independence,” Núñez said, who was also surprised by the young girl's tech savviness.

To get ready for Gen A, Eastern needs to invest more in technology and be ready to teach context, she said. Alphas can become overwhelmed by the amount of information they get online and will need help sorting it out, she added.

“We need to teach them that things are not black and white, but they are nuanced," said Núñez. "Ethics has to be part of what we teach and what they learn at Eastern."

As for career preparation, 65% of the Alpha generation will have jobs that don’t exist today, according to the Ologie report. “How do we help them prepare?” she asked. “Alphas will demand an education that is accessible and flexible, as more and more employment pathways will be accessible through micro-credentials, certifications and similar forms of academic validation,” she said.

“Get ready, my friends, because Generation Alpha is coming,” she said.

Ben Pauley spoke about the strategic plan.

Robert Martin updated the audience on Admissions.

William Lugo presented University Senate activities.

Interim Director of University Relations Ryan Quigley described new digital marketing plans.

The University Meeting also heard from Senate President William Lugo, professor of sociology, who reviewed the Senate’s upcoming activities, which include legislative advocacy and future resolutions to be voted on and introduced at the senate meeting on Jan. 30.

An update on the strategic plan was provided by Interim Associate Provost Ben Pauley, substituting for Professor Amy Bataille, who is co-chair of the Committee on the Future of Eastern along with Vice President Michelle Delaney. Progress has been made in all goals, he said, including sustainability, enrollments in both undergraduate and the new online graduate programs, retention rates and more career preparation activities across campus.

Ryan Quigley, interim director of University Relations, discussed the University's diversified marketing plan to attract prospective students. "We're chasing an audience, not a platform," he said about having a presence on all the major social media platforms, each appealing to different audiences and age groups. Social media allows Eastern to “humbly brag" and build community, he said, about the activities on campus and accomplishments of faculty and students.

In addition to growing the University's online following, he discussed the new digital viewbook, which allows prospective students to personalize their viewbook experience; the updated virtual tour, which has recorded 7,300 visits since July; a website project to highlight faculty, set to publish this January; Eastern ads on streaming services such as Spotify and Hulu; and television advertising to reach Hispanic audiences. Additionally, Eastern will be the official sponsor of “The First Pitch” for all 68 home games of the Hartford Yard Goats starting this spring, with April 14 being the “Eastern Day” baseball game.

Director of Admissions Robert Martin discussed his office's use of Slate, a new management tool for communicating with prospective students. He noted that in fall 2023, admissions saw a 22% increase in applications for early action applications and a 52% increase in early admissions.

Employees with ten or more years of service and retirees were also recognized at the University Meeting:

Service Awards and Retirees