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Accreditation Resources

About Community Advisory Boards

Community advisory boards provide an opportunity for external stakeholders (e.g., employers, alumni, clinical site supervisors, etc.) to guide and counsel you as you continually improve your program. Your curriculum, technology, learning experiences and community partnerships benefit from an active advisory board. 

Getting Started

  • Budget funds for this strategy. 
  • Identify three to five people and invite them to join your advisory board. Use LinkedIn as a resource. Resist the temptation to only tap your personal network. Aim for a diverse representation of individuals.   
  • If possible, ask individuals who will give you a wide breadth of your profession in your state. Consider people from a variety of organizations (e.g., nonprofit, healthcare, research organizations, industries, etc. (For example, PT identified people from pediatric care, adult cart, managers/administrators, those in private practice and major hospitals, etc).  
  • Create orientation materials (e.g., share contact list, expectations, program information, etc.). 
  • Meet each board member in-person prior to their first campus meeting.  
  • Send clear directions, meet in places that showcase your program, and greet people as they arrive. Breakfast or dinner meetings work well.  
  • Welcome each person as part of the meeting opening. 
  • Meet at least twice a year (e.g., spring/fall). Schedule dates and send invites in advance. 
  • Review your association/accreditation guidelines/requirements for advisory boards. The documentation may specify how often the board should meet, the professional areas that must be represented, and the role of the board. 
  • Keep meeting records (e.g., agenda, minutes, handouts). Consider adding a column to your minutes where you indicate the professional standard to which the conversation is related.  
  • Please this activity on your School Strategic Plan Initiatives and link to the University Initiatives (e.g., can assist with university brand as well as faculty and student success).  
  • Understand the accreditation standard associate with the advisory board (if applicable) and communicate with the accreditation body if the intended purpose or requirements of the standard are not clear.  

Successful Advisory Boards

  • Provide access to local employers and other community resources (e.g., potential adjuncts, clinical placements, guest lecturers, grant partnerships, etc.). 
  • Aim for diversity. For example, you might invite: 
    • Professionals from organizations that can hire your grads. 
    • Representatives from other higher education institutions. 
    • Members from your field’s professional association(s). 
    • Industry specialists or innovators. 
    • People who believe in the mission of the university, school and program. 
    • Be sure to consider a culturally diverse representation of individuals. 
  • Discuss current priorities, and ask at least one challenging question.  
  • Follow the agenda, keep the meeting moving (e.g., start and end on time). Make sure the board chair is an effective facilitator. Send individual thank you notes after meetings. 
  • Involve the board in assessment (e.g., review program outcomes, mission, and syllabi. Present data and discuss how to “move the needle). 
  • Record all board recommendations in the minutes AND in a worksheet. Give the worksheet to each advisory board member prior to the next accreditation site visit. The list will remind them of their contributions.  
  • Actively ask for feedback and perspectives from the board members. 
  • Share periodic updates about the program and university; especially student achievement.
  • Assure the makeup of your board satisfies your accreditation standard(s) (example: in occupational therapy the intent of the advisory board is to assure students are receiving education/training on medical/mental health and participation needs of the state’s citizens, so the advisory board members provide details on what assessment/evaluations. interventions, equipment, etc. that students will use in practice in New England and we integrate that into our strategic plan goals and curriculum design strategies). 

Challenges

  • Shifting membership at times to assure that all practice areas in the profession are represented at different times. (Example – currently mental health is a major driving force of healthcare in New England, so we have a higher representation of mental health practitioners on the board). 
  • Ensure a meaningful discussion takes place, otherwise you will lose people after 2-3 meetings. 
  • Keeping advisory board members takes time, like any other important relationship. 
  • Follow-through on recommendations – provide updates at future meetings (e.g., close the loop on important recommendations, decisions, etc.).  

Additional Suggestions from the Academic Leaders

  • Try to make advisory board membership a win-win – provide education, CEUs for licensure, and food at meetings. 
  • Most board members have full-time employment so be wise in thinking about  meeting times. (Monday and Fridays not good, early evenings are best). 
  • Be willing, if asked, to be a board member at organizations where your board members are employed. 
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