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Friday, June 4, 2010

Invasion of the Board of Trustees

Friday isn't normally a necktie day at the Miller-Ward Alumni House (MWAH), but when the Board of Trustees (BOT) is meeting 40 feet from your office, it's important not to look like someone who should be escorted from the building.

A quick glance at the University's organizational chart gives you an idea of the BOT's importance. It's at the top. In a really big font.

When the BOT is here, we act accordingly.

Emory's BOT meets three times a year and--unless there is a specific reason, like a tour or retreat or something--they meet here at MWAH. And we do our best to be gracious hosts. Members arrived on Thursday morning and their meetings have continued through this afternoon. Last night, they took time out for dinner at Lullwater.

Many members of the BOT are alumni (between 9 and 11 positions on the 40-member board are specifically for alumni), others are community, business or educational leaders. No matter their background all share a love of Emory and a deep interest in its success.

The University, understandably, takes BOT meetings pretty seriously. Throughout the day, Emory's leaders shuttle in and out of our conference rooms, going to and from meetings with BOT members. In those meetings, a lot of very important decisions are made.

That's probably why I've never been in one.

Those of us at the EAA ... we try to go about our business as best we can (unless we have a presentation to make, which happens every once in a while ... you can tell who's in that boat ... they are generally a little tense ... or too casual ... that's a way to hide the tension).

One great bonus of the BOT visits is the food. There is always a little bit extra. Yesterday it was BLTs and orzo salad. Today--red velvet cupcakes. I apologize for any crumbs on this post.

I have only spoken to trustees a couple of times. Mainly to provide directions around the house. They are always perfectly nice and professional, but also carry with them an air of preoccupation. I can understand that; I'm sure they are probably thinking about 22 different things at any one time. And it can't be easy to navigate the administrator parade while you're thinking about those 22 things.

I talk to the staff quite a bit, though. I've known Kim and Cindy and Joan and Andrew (who works in the University Events office) for a long time. From their table in the MWAH foyer, tucked under our spiral staircase they somehow seamlessly manage all this activity and they have smiles on their faces when they do it, too. It's pretty remarkable.

Even when I saunter up to Kim and talk about something totally irrelevant to what's going on. Today it was tennis. Usually it's movies she hasn't seen or music she doesn't listen to.

Most importantly, the staff also politely looks the other way when I drink coffee from the fancy decanters outside Governors Hall. So much better than the office brew.

It's the little things you appreciate the most.

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

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