For Alumni Association President Julia Farr Connolly (CAS ’88), her role as Board of Governors chair is a far cry from her grade-school days of stuffing and labeling envelopes for the Annual Fund efforts.
Elected by the Alumni Association to chair the 120-member group, which consists of alumni, faculty and student governors, Connolly has served half of her three-year term as chair. Today, Connolly spearheads a body charged with a daunting task: cultivating a relationship between the university and its 10s of thousands of alumni, all the while securing the school’s placement in the top tier of universities worldwide.
“The association provides more than 160,000 alumni with programming and events that advance our core mission — to serve all alumni by connecting them to the university and each other, today and throughout their lives,” Bill Reynolds (CAS ’79), executive director of the Alumni Association, said in an official letter to alumni.
For Connolly, this connection reaches deeper than her posting. Connolly has long been attached to the Robert and Bernice Wagner Alumni House, where she developed her first memories of developed her first memories of Georgetown. Because her mother worked as the Alumni Association’s secretary and later an editorial assistant, Connolly soon became a favorite of former Director of Financial Affairs RuthKetterman.
“When we were old enough, Ruth would bring my brother and sisters to work with her on school holidays and breaks to help out with stuffing and labeling envelopes for association mailings, opening the Annual Fund checks and running errands on campus. Through high school, I spent many school breaks and summers as a student worker-in-training at the Alumni House,” she said.
Connolly’s experience reflects the value the Alumni Office and Board of Governors holds for student input.
“The fundamental goal of the Board of Governors is to make connections — connections between alumni, the administration and students,” student governor Shuo Yan Tan (SFS ’12) said.
Appointed by the Georgetown Undergraduate Student Association, Tan and his three fellow undergraduate colleagues are considered “working governors” because they are not granted a vote within the board’s general assembly but are able to vote within the subcommittees. Nine graduate students, appointed by the Graduate Student Organization, also serve on the board.
In addition to the student governors, 42 alumni governors are elected to serve three-year terms. The rest of the greater board is comprised of senators — former governors who have reached their two-term limit but remain involved with the Alumni Association.
According to the Board of Governors Statement of Responsibility, the body’s main goal is to protect and preserve Hilltop traditions and encourage support for the university. The guidelines do not shy away from strongly encouraging financial donations from governors.
“Governors have a responsibility to support Georgetown, both with their financial support and in their local communities. Governors have the responsibility to participate in the annual funds each year and are often asked to provide financial support for other initiatives of the alumni association,” the document reads.
Reynolds believes the organization is the best outlet for alumni to stay tied to Georgetown.
“I encourage you to connect with each other, give back to the university and current students and take advantage of the opportunities Georgetown continues to offer,” he said in his letter.
And according to Tan, giving back is what it’s all about.
“I always believe that the student voice is very valuable for balancing out other opinions and providing a different, informed perspective on how certain university policies can affect students,” he said.
But for Tan, his role comes down to working with the community of Georgetown past and present.
“If the role of alumni is to remember, then the job of us students is to remind them,” he said.
Correction: The article originally stated that all 13 student members of the board are “working governors” and are appointed by the Georgetown University Student Association. The four undergraduate members are “working governors” and are appointed by GUSA, while the nine graduate student members are appointed by the Graduate Student Organization. The article has been fixed to reflect this change.