New Ways to Think

Senior Director of Alumni Relations (pictured at left, alongside Wine Classic co-host and auctioneer Clint Bell)


In the entrepreneurship world, even challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic can be viewed as an opportunity for finding new ways to think. Since mid-March, — when all USD classes were shifted to remote learning — we’ve all had to adjust.

USD’s rapid response is worth noting. Of course, each of USD’s schools have faculty members who teach and use technology differently, but new programs were created to help students become more resilient, examine the job market during uncertain times and gain insights from alumni.

Over the past months, USD’s alumni relations office spent time connecting with Torero alumni in new and beneficial ways. “We had no plans for doing virtual events as of mid-March, but by July 1, we had hosted or partnered on more than 50 events,” says Senior Director of Alumni Relations Charles Bass.

Bass (pictured at left, alongside Wine Classic co-host and auctioneer Clint Bell) recognized that his office needed to deepen alumni engagement by offering remote opportunities to stay connected.

“As much as we love our in-person events, our team looked at the situation and used virtual technology to make virtual programming a thing,” he says. Bass and his staff hosted meetings, discussions and one-on-one conversations with interesting USD alumni. Signature and special events were offered on a variety of platforms.

University Ministry was another key adapter. Sunday night Mass could be viewed on Instagram Live. Multiple events were held that served the faith needs of the student community.

Across campus, popular remote events thrived, including The Brink’s San Diego Angel Conference, the Office of Undergraduate Research’s Creative Collaborations, Honors Program Spring Colloquium, the USD and global finals of the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge, USD Athletics’ Sports Banquet and the 12th annual USD Wine Classic.

One annual spring event, the Venture Vetting (V2) Pitch Competition, postponed its entrepreneurship competition until Spring 2021, but organizers successfully pivoted by creating “The Resilient Entrepreneur” online series.

A collaboration between the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Catalyzer at USD and other campus entities, series programming focused on building entrepreneurial skills essential for weathering uncertain times. Participants could hear from in-the-field alumni entrepreneurs, take part in a workshop on financial literacy, witness students pitching their ideas to judges and join a LinkedIn workshop.

“This was a chance to take a step back, think about things, pivot, be creative and offer students an opportunity to be resilient,” says Regina Bernal, School of Business’ entrepreneurship manager who works in USD’s Catalyzer. “At the core, USD has a strong community. I think this series enabled us to shine.” — Ryan T. Blystone

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