Submitted by Rebecca Stratton, director of public relations and communications
As individuals transitioned their work and lives to their homes last spring in response to COVID-19, the reality of Alumni Association events taking place for the remainder of the spring, summer, and fall was dim. Wheels began turning as Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement Bailey Bundy and Events Manager Taylor Anne Walz ’19 started thinking creatively as to how they could bring alumni together in a safe manner. “We needed a way to connect and engage with our alumni and community all while being virtual,” said Bundy. “We saw a pattern and the reality of events being canceled and postponed due to COVID-19 and the impact it was having on people. There was, and is, a strong desire for networking, socializing, and continued learning.”
Through many discussions and creative collaboration, MORETalks was born. Held virtually through Zoom, these free events allow members of the Thomas More community to come together in place of in-person events. “MORETalks has grown into a successful and sustainable program all on its own,” said Bundy. Since its launch in June, MORETalks has seen a steady increase in attendance.
Similar to TEDTalks, MORETalks features alumni, faculty, staff, and community members through virtual, live discussions ranging in topics. “Ultimately, MORETalks is devoted to the spread of ideas, thoughts, and information in the form of short, powerful talks,” added Bundy. “Whether it’s a message, presentation, panel discussion, or educational talk, these individuals have been invited to share their knowledge, skill or craft with the community. These talks allow for a large number of guests, enhanced engagement through virtual chats, and encourage continued learning.”
Walz facilitates the discussions, while Michael Orr ’15, annual fund officer, hosts and fills in the gaps within the conversations, asking questions, prompting ideas, and managing questions submitted from the virtual audience. “It would be foolish of me to not recognize Michael Orr and Taylor Walz for all of their hard work,” Bundy said. “While I was away on maternity leave this past summer, Michael and Taylor kick-started MORETalks and were champions for the program.”
“MORETalks has taken off in such an astounding way,” said Orr. “It is such a joy to host our alumni and community members and share their expertise and passions. I am so impressed with the breadth of knowledge our community shares in MORETalks. Hosting these events has really reinforced to me the value that the liberal arts has for our community.”
MORETalks has included presentations and discussions that encompass finance experts, research biologists, librarians, artists and directors, coaches, enrollment experts, and more. Alumni such as Brian Ruschman ’00, president of C-Forward, John Bovard ’11, owner of Incline Wealth Advisors, Terry Connor ’92, Thomas More athletic director, Tim Perrino ’78, Cincinnati Landmark Productions executive artistic director, plus more, have given their time to efforts to make the virtual events a success.
“All of [the speakers] have something unique to share with our community, and all of them bring so much passion and excitement to their talks,” said Orr. “As host, I have a unique opportunity to get to know these individuals, and it is a really special experience to build a rapport with them before we host their MORETalk. My hope for the program is to host future live, in-person MORETalks with hundreds of alumni and community members present! Until that day, we will continue to push the envelope by offering interesting, insightful, and engaging MORETalks.”
To view past MORETalks, visit tmuky.us/moretalks.
To see future discussions and register for upcoming MORETalks, visit tmuky.us/moretalksrsvp.