Example of Best Practice 1B

Sonoma State University
Provided by Professor Joseph S. Tenn (joe.tenn@sonoma.edu), 12/05

The Department of Physics and Astronomy of Sonoma State University has been keeping track of its graduates since 1971, (when there were only five). All graduates have been sent an annual questionnaire* and, since 1974, the Department’s annual newsletter*. “Alumnotes” make up the largest single article in the newsletter each year. The current positions* of more than 60% of the Department's 377 graduates are now listed on the web, together with links to most of the graduates or their employers or schools. The questionnaire asks graduates for contact information, their current positions, and for comments on the usefulness of their education as physics majors at SSU, what they find was most beneficial and least beneficial, and any suggestions they would like to make to the Department. Such information is used by the Department in updating its curriculum, and, most importantly, in recruiting new majors. When asked the perennial question, “What can you do with a bachelor's degree in physics?” we can answer by showing what our graduates are doing now. The online list of graduates and the newsletter, along with occasional reunions, help foster a sense of community among graduates, and it is fairly common for seniors to contact graduates when seeking information about employment or graduate schools. On the average, about one graduate per semester returns to speak in the Department’s undergraduate colloquium, “What Physicists Do.”*

*available at http://phys-astro.sonoma.edu/