During a typical university alumni day, graduates return to see old friends and professors, walk the campus revisiting spots where they forged favorite memories and marvel at the gleaming new buildings and food choices.

But because of travel and other commitments, the vast majority of alumni aren’t able to attend. Thankfully for them, UCLA doesn’t do things in a typical way. This year, for all of the nearly 500,000 Bruins around the world, the UCLA Alumni Association is bringing UCLA to them with its first online Alumni Day.

“UCLA Bruins span the globe, and online Alumni Day provides a remarkable opportunity to have a conversation in a common time zone. No trains, planes or automobiles needed — just wi-fi!” said Julie Sina, UCLA associate vice chancellor for alumni affairs. “We are excited about engaging with Bruins in a common space to share our passion and love for UCLA. Particularly for Bruins have not been on campus in a while — whether from the San Fernando Valley or from Singapore — we say, ‘Welcome home online Sept. 13.’”

Online Alumni Day will take place on a dedicated website that will feature virtual versions of the events and activities that usually take place in person. Alumni will receive an email today with an all-access pass that will enable them to sign in to the site, or they can follow prompts to locate a UCLA ID number to sign in. Visitors without a UCLA degree will be able to log in as guests. 

The schedule includes virtual tours of campus, including stops at the Mo Ostin Basketball Center and the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory; a live chat with fellow Bruins between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. PDT; and nine YouTube Live episodes featuring lectures by a professor and alumni experts.

The discussions begin at 9 a.m. with UCLA psychology professor Alan Castel, who will speak about memory and the myths of aging. Other speakers include blogger Stephanie Be, who graduated in 2012 and will talk about traveling; former UCLA football player Brendon Ayanbadejo, who graduated in 1999, discussing his work advocating for LGBTQ rights; and Nurit Katz, UCLA’s chief sustainability officer who graduated in 2008 with master’s degrees in business and public policy, who will share how UCLA serves as a model of sustainability for other college campuses.

Also featured on the Alumni Day website:

  • original Bruin artwork;
  • music by Bruin artists;
  • coloring book for kids;
  • interactive world map highlighting the locations of UCLA Alumni Travel trips;
  • tribute to UCLA’s WWII veterans; and
  • yearbook entries chronicling UCLA’s first 50 years.

The idea originated about a year and a half ago, said Estellaleigh Franenberg, creative director of UCLA Alumni. Kevin Halladay-Glynn, a UCLA Alumni project manager, led the charge.

“Working within an aggressively tight deadline, the application development team put on a full-court press for more than five months building a 20-plus-page website from scratch,” Franenberg said. “It’s all of the little things you don’t see that make the site work seamlessly, so credit to the app development team’s steadfast work and unwavering support.”