Thirty groups keep the blue true.
by Jo Mathis
Lisa R. Tucci is a 1985 U-M grad who runs her own company offering audio guides of Italy. Although she's lived in Italy since 1992, her connections to Ann Arbor run deep--her grandfather emigrated from the mountains of Abruzzi to attend the U-M in 1923. So it makes sense that Tucci now leads the University of Michigan Alumni Association of Italy. Members meet for happy hours in Rome and Milan, Tucci emails, "to share our experiences, and be part of an elite within the Italian legal or business worlds." Their Michigan allegiance, she says, gives them "a sort of pedestal to stand on"--as well as "a place to shout 'Go Blue!'"
The Italian outpost is one of thirty international U-M alumni groups, from Australia to Vietnam. Members are united by the same forces that bond stateside alumni: shared memories, networking, and U-M sports.
When Andy Fletcher moved from Michigan to Texas, he decided to make new friends by looking for people who were true Blue. It worked so well that he's now president of the U-M Austin Spirit Group and working to expand it into a full-fledged alumni club. (The twenty U.S. spirit groups gather mainly for sports events; the sixty-one clubs do more, including community service projects and helping to recruit students.) Ray Yee, president of the 1,000-member University of Michigan Club of Downriver, says his group awards scholarships and sponsors needy families around the holidays. And--never say die--the Downriver alums hold an annual Beat Ohio State Bust, where members cheer on the Wolverines and smash buckeyes.
[Originally published in March, 2010.]