The GW Alumni Association is exploring a broad restructuring of its board of directors to better represent minority groups.
Positions on the voluntary board correspond with GW’s various schools and colleges, leaving about 20 subsets within the Alumni Association underrepresented, including the GW Black Alumni Association, the GW Hispanic Alumni Association and the GW Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alumni Association.
“We’ve had the same structure for a number of years and that structure is focused on school representation,” Alumni Association President Laura Downs said. “We’re realizing that that is not really representative of us as a whole.”
Downs created a working group of 10 board members to look at alumni boards at universities across the nation, specifically those similar to GW. The group will present its findings and a potential proposal for restructuring in April.
Downs said she would like to see more at-large positions created on the board to represent different attributes of the members and increase the board’s diversity. School representation will not be forgotten, she said.
“Every school will always have a voice, we’ll make sure of it… It would be just kind of expanding our board so we have more of a representation of those 220,000 alumni.”
Because the Alumni Association is a separate, nonprofit corporation with its own budget and all of its members functioning as volunteers, the idea formed within the association, rather than among University administrators. The University is also in the midst of a major push for more diversity on campus, including last year’s formation of a Council on Diversity and Inclusion and the recent hiring of a new vice provost for diversity and inclusion.
“Even though we’re independent from the University, we’re very close,” Downs said.
Matt Lindsay, communications director for the Office of Alumni Relations – the University’s alumni arm – described his office’s “mutually beneficial relationship” with the Alumni Association.
“We’ve been involved in conversations… It’s a good mutual exchange of ideas,” Lindsay said.
If the board passes the restructuring proposal in April, actually changing it would be a gradual, 1 or 2-year process, Downs said.
“I kind of think of the Colonial Cabinet. It has students from all over… We want a very representative group,” Downs said.