The word “alumni” (pl/m, s/m: alumnus, s/f: alumna, pl/f: alumnae) comes from Latin and means “graduates.” All graduates with a university diploma automatically become lifetime members of the alumni network of their alma mater (“nourishing mother”): Tilburg University. The first three students graduated on the 5th of April 1933: Chr. L.H. Truijen, P.P. van Berkum and G.J. Frohn. All three received their degrees, were entitled to hold the title of doctorandus (drs.) and were from then on alumni. Meanwhile, 84 years on, the alumni population comprises well over 65,000 former students. This number goes up, of course, as every year approximately 2,000 Master’s degrees and 1,500 Bachelor’s degrees are awarded to students, the new alumni. The University also considers its PhD students alumni, and, at a membership fee, professors and members of staff who were not students at Tilburg University can also join an alumni network: the Friends of Cobbenhagen. The 2,500th PhD student is expected to take his/her degree in the University’s 90th year. With the worldwide Tilburg University alumni network counting some 124 different nationalities, the alumni population is becoming more and more international.
First graduates' society
Right from the start, alumni have played an important part in Tilburg University life. In 1934, Cobbenhagen, the University’s founding father, also founded TAEK, the first graduates’ society. This society presented the University with the wall relief that adorns the inner garden of the Cobbenhagen Building. The relief shows the parable of the five wise and the five foolish virgins, a lesson in economy. Right up to the present day, the alumni are a vital network for Tilburg University: they establish important links with society and are the best ambassadors a knowledge institution could wish for. They are often role models for present-day students, or become advisors, coaches, mentors or supporters of the University.
The University’s first three alumni; in the middle, the later Professor and Rector Magnificus Van Berkum. On the left: Truijen, on the right: Frohn.