Make Your Alumni Board Effective

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June 9, 2011. During a series of interviews with leaders in alumni relations earlier this year, Academic Impressions found that many alumni relations offices are struggling with their alumni boards or alumni association boards. While a working board can offer institutional leaders partners to aid in achieving institutional goals for engagement and giving, most boards are not filling this role.

Among the common problems:

  • Many boards remain too focused on specific tactics -- such as reunion and homecoming
  • Other boards have grown too large and unwieldy, preventing them from "getting down to business"
  • Boards struggle to ensure that 100 percent of their members give to the institution and that their members model supportive relationships with administration

To learn more about the characteristics of an effective "working board," we turned to Gary Olsen, associate vice president of alumni relations and executive director of the alumni association at Villanova University, and Christine Tempesta, director of strategic initiatives with the MIT Alumni Association. Olsen and Tempesta shared their advice on the qualities to look for in board members and managing the board's scope of responsibilities.

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