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An alumnus (pl. alumni) according to the American Heritage Dictionary is "a graduate (JC) or former student of a school, college, or university."[1] In addition, an alumna (pl. alumnae) is "a female graduate or former student of a school, college, or university."[2] If a group includes more than one gender, even if there is only one male, the plural form alumni is used.

Contents

Etymology

The Latin noun alumnus means "foster son, pupil" and is derived from the verb alere "to nourish"[3].

Usage

An alumnus or alumna is a former student and in particular a graduate of an educational institution (school, college, university).[1][2] Furthermore, according to dictionary.reference.com and the United States Department of Education, the term alumnae is used in conjunction with either women's colleges[4] or a female group of students. The term alumni is used in conjunction with either men's colleges, a male group of students, or a mixed group of students:

In accordance with the rules of grammar governing the inflexion of nouns in the Romance languages, the masculine plural alumni is correctly used for groups composed of both sexes: the alumni of The University of Texas. Sometimes, to avoid any misguided suggestion of sexism, both terms are used for mixed groups: "the alumni/alumnae of The University of Texas" or the "alumni and alumnae of The University of Texas" coeducational institutions usually use alumni for graduates of both sexes. Some may prefer the phrase "alumni and alumnae" or the form "alumnae/i", which is the choice of many women's colleges that have begun to admit men.[5]

The term is sometimes shortened to "alum", which stands for "an alumna or alumnus."[6]

"Alumni" (a plural form) is often incorrectly used as a singular form for both genders; for example, "I am an alumni of Duke university," as opposed to "I am an alumnus/alumna of Duke University." This usage is erroneous in formal or historic usage. The prevalence of this usage is likely due to an ignorance of Latin grammar and the fact that printed documents and university merchandise almost always use the plural form of the word.

Alumni reunions are popular events at many institutions. They are usually organized by alumni associations and are often social occasions for fundraising.

Contacting alumni is an extremely valuable resource for all universities, colleges and high schools and is heavily promoted in the US, Europe and Asia.

Related terms

At most UK independent schools, New Zealand schools, Sri Lankan schools, a few universities in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Australia and Canada, the phrases old boy and old girl are traditionally used for former school pupils, and old member or member (or "alumnus" in New Zealand) for former university students. At the Royal Military College of Canada, the phrases former cadet and member of the old brigade are traditionally used, as are college numbers. Another example is the term old corps, in reference to alumni from the Virginia Military Institute. Due to this general restriction of the phrase being used in schools for the few the phrase is normally associated with the aristocracy of the UK.

Some schools use a specific term clearly linked to the school name, such as "Old Etonian", "Old Churcherian", "Old Knox Grammarian", or "Old Reptonian" (old boys of Eton College, Churcher's College, Knox Grammar School, and Repton School); or a more obscure one, such as "Old Citizen" and "Old Gregorian" for those of the City of London School and Downside School. Other UK examples include "Old Alleynian" (Dulwich College), "Old Blue" (Christ's Hospital), "Old Dunumian" (Down High School) and "Old Novocastrian" (Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne).

In Scotland the term former pupil (FP) is also used, especially when referring to sports teams of a school. Some US schools, such as Texas A&M University, prefer former student.

The World Student Christian Federation uses the term 'senior friends' for its alumni.

Footnotes

KSA Universities Alumni Association of Jammu and Kashmir (India) www.toalmanar.wordpress.com

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