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Advisory Council Meeting

October 25, 2011

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

Many journalism schools have Advisory Councils composed of distinguished alumni and media practitioners who meet formally or informally on campus two or three times per year.

Our Council meets formally, and that requires advance preparation. Because members live across the country, they like to travel to Ames, Iowa, when the university features alumni events at Homecoming and at our Spring festival.

The Homecoming meeting requires three levels of administrative preparation, which is what I am finishing up today.

First, there’s the meeting itself, which requires the director to report to the board on such matters as enrollment, recruitment, fundraising, graduation rates, research productivity and more. Only yesterday did I and our program coordinator, Kim McDonough, finish a 19-page booklet laden with data and statistics. We had worked on it for about a week.

Second, there is Homecoming itself, which is more than a football game for administrators. We must attend and sometimes emcee award ceremonies and alumni receptions. We schedule time for benefactor visits, updating their accounts and sometimes writing brief reports.

Third, we have scheduled panel discussions throughout the day. We call these our “Futures Forum,” meant to provide career advice for students. With so many distinguished alumni on campus, we like to share their expertise with faculty, too.

Kim McDonough handles much of the event planning for these. As Iowa’s Jan. 3 precinct date is rapidly approaching, we have slated a major two-day mini-conference, “Covering Politics,” with such journalists as Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times; John McCormick, Bloomberg; and Chuck Todd, NBC News.

Also, this is a special occasion for our Futures Forum. Earlier this month we secured an endowment for the events, enabling us to continue bringing top-name journalists to campus at every Advisory Council meeting. Our benefactors will be in attendance, and I’ll be announcing their gift on Thursday and Friday.

I’ll also be introducing two of the forums, putting finishing touches on speeches today as well as being on the lookout for last-minute changes in meeting agendas, award ceremonies and other special events.

On Thursday and Friday, I can anticipate back-to-back 12-hour days at the Greenlee School. During much of that time, I will be on the public stage or working with high-level benefactors and supportive alumni. It will be exciting, but also tiring, if I don’t finish work early today and head home to relax in the hours before our happy madness begins.

And that’s the real lesson of this post. Preparing for meetings is also a physical consideration that requires relaxation beforehand to muster the requisite energy to perform well and enjoy the festivities.

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