Often removed from the day-to-day functions of life at Georgetown, advisory boards across divisions serve an important function in informing the academic life within their respective schools.
Georgetown’s College, School of Nursing and Health Studies, School of Foreign Service and McDonough School of Business boards physically convene twice a year to discuss ongoing projects, offer advice and keep in touch with on-campus activities and students. Specific topics of discussion include strategic thinking about school programs and priorities, the trajectory of the school, new course offerings, program development, student admissions, challenges faced by graduates and alumni engagement.
Although advisory boards are mostly comprised of alumni, parents and some prominent business individuals, each dean places a different emphasis on the makeup of his board.
“I’d say there’s a distinction between the board of past years and the board of current years. I would say that we try to have a more hands-on approach by our board members now,” Senior Director of Development for the College Erin DeLoach said. “I think in years past it was sort of a group of people that would come together to be spoken to about the College, now we really look to the board for expertise in various areas.”
In recent years, the MSB has diversified its board by recruiting more women, minorities and international business leaders.
“Diversity on the board is important to me because of the various perspectives that individuals with different experiences offer,” MSB Dean David Thomas wrote in an email.
Although general topics overlap, each of Georgetown’s advisory boards focuses on different areas or engagement strategies. For instance, both the College and MSB advisory boards established committees in which members can concentrate on certain topics.
“It’s really about engagement, they really want to be involved, they really don’t want us to just come here and talk to them. With these committees, we’re really hoping to take them to a deeper level of involvement with the school,” MSB Associate Dean Chris Kormis said.
Kormis, who heads the committee on branding and marketing, has found these forums to be especially helpful to the trajectory of the MSB.
“I like having them because, for example, when I was struggling with which way to go on a certain situation, I knew there were certain people who came to my information session about my committee, that they were interested in it, so I tapped into them,” Kormis said.
The College Advisory Board is similarly divided into four committees: development, ambassadorship, science and strategic planning.
The development committee is currently focused on the Capital Campaign, while the ambassadorship committee is working with public relations; the strategic planning committee is undertaking various initiatives, including an effort to expand gallery space on campus.
On the other hand, the SFS Advisory Board is currently focusing on fundraising as its chief goal. “Each member of the board is asked to make a contribution each year. It is expected when you’re invited onto the board that you do so, that is obviously we have a number of people who are actively engaged in helping us fundraise for the board,” SFS Director of Outreach Gail Griffith said.
The university’s various advisory boards also differ developmentally.
“Our Board of Advisors is a relatively new model and reflects the merger in 2010 of two bodies: the NHS Parents Council and the NHS Board of Visitors. Since those two bodies often had a shared goal — namely the support of NHS and our faculty and students — the school thought it would be best to combine efforts,” NHS Dean Martin Iguchi said.
Despite differences among the advisory boards, each dean and school finds that the capacity of the board for pertinent advice and experience is critical to Georgetown’s growth.
“Our board members can be extremely valuable and critical. They really are just so important to the workings of the college, they sometimes just help us ask the right questions,” DeLoach said. “Sometimes they help make critical relationships that we might not have natural inroads into. They help on all kinds of different fronts.”