“alumna” vs. “alumnus” vs. “alumnae” vs. “alumni”:

  • “Alumna” traditionally refers to a woman who graduate from or formerly attended the GC.
  • “Alumnus” traditionally refers to a man who graduate from or formerly attended the GC.
  • “Alumnae” is the plural of “alumna”.
  • “Alumni” is the plural of “alumnus”.
  • When a group of women and men are involved, many institutions will use “alumni” in reference to that group of graduates or former students.  Some will use “alumnae/i” or “alumnae/alumni”.
  • The words “alum” and “alums” are slang terms, which should only be used in appropriate circumstances.
  • In certain situations, the term “alumna/us” may also be used in documents addressing an individual in more generic terms.
  • One should never say, “I am an alumni,” or “As an alumni of the GC…”

Positive Terms

If you are planning alumni-engagement or fundraising activities, please use positive or neutral terms when you talk about them.  For example, when referring to alumni engagement and/or fundraising, refer to them as a “responsibility” or an “opportunity” rather than a “burden”.


With terms like “tax deductible” vs. “tax-deductible”, when should you hyphenate?  If the terms are used to modify a noun—“Your tax-deductible gift was mailed in last week.”—then you should hyphenate.  If not, then you should not—“The gift you made was tax deductible.” The same is true for “alumni engagement” vs. “alumni-engagement”.  You would hyphenate with: “This alumni-engagement event is planned for March.”   You would not hyphenate with:  “The students wants to promote alumni engagement within their program.”  For more specific details, check out the excerpt form the Chicago Manual of Style below.

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