Keys to a Productive External Advisory Board, Part 1: Establishing Board Membership

Many of our universities use school- or college-level external advisory boards (EABs) for a variety of reasons. Some departments employ such boards as well. Academically related areas where boards can be particularly useful are providing curricular advice to academic departments, assessing the quality of graduates, and offering employment opportunities and internships or other forms of engagement to students. These board roles are particularly relevant for professional schools (e.g., business) and programs (e.g., IT-related) that prepare students for specific workplaces or positions in which changes in knowledge and skills are anticipated and must be addressed immediately. Other board roles may include providing insight into material and fiscal opportunities, such as the donation of used equipment, industry grants, and contract work that may otherwise be available to outside bidders; assisting with philanthropy, both corporate and individual; offering advice on dealing with the local political environment; providing feedback on new initiatives; and being conduits to their colleagues and other well-placed individuals on the excellence and value of the institution and school (or department).

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