Explore our board member spotlight, frequently asked questions, download the Guide to CALS Volunteer Leadership Boards or submit a nomination.
Frequently Asked Questions
What role do volunteer boards play at the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)?
Volunteer leadership boards at the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) provide opportunities for alumni, advocates and friends to work closely with academic and administrative leadership across the College’s divisions and programs. Board members provide expertise, support, and advocacy in service to their school or program’s mission and goals.
Volunteer boards at the College do not have fiduciary responsibility with one exception, the NC Agricultural Foundation, Inc. board. All other boards are advisory/fundraising boards.
Each board has its own set of member responsibilities, but generally members are expected to:
- Attend and participate in board meetings;
- Stay apprised of division/program priorities and challenges;
- Serve as informed ambassadors to fellow alumni, peers and outside constituents;
- Support the College/program financially, including a gift to the board’s priority area (or area of your choice) during the annual NC State Day of Giving campaign (usually held each March) and assist with other aspects of NC State Day of Giving as suggested by board leadership;
- Help identify and cultivate additional volunteers for increased engagement as leaders and donors in service to the College or program mission.
How are boards selected?
Senior leadership (associate deans and program leaders) and bylaws set the requirements for board membership criteria and giving expectations, and maintain a list of interested alumni, friends and industry leaders. The nomination and selection process for board members takes a wide array of factors into account. Each individual’s qualities, accomplishments and contributions are given thoughtful consideration. They are also seen through the lens of how an individual enhances the board as a whole.
- Will the individual bring greater geographic, age, racial, life experience or career diversity to the board’s membership?
- Do they have a skill set or professional network that could be brought to bear on a program’s strategic plan or fundraising efforts?
- Could their business or social connections assist with student recruitment, fundraising and/or hiring efforts?
- How will the individual’s leadership style complement and enhance the current board roster?
- Do they understand and support the dean or program leader’s vision?
- Will they be effective advocates, ambassadors, and champions of the school’s work with peers and outside constituents?
- Are they interested in board service as a means to an end – as a stepping stone to another board, for example, or in hopes that re-engagement with NC State will help their child’s chances in the admissions process – rather than out of a deep commitment to serving as an active, collaborative contributor?
In addition to consideration by associate deans and directors, development officers also provide input into board selection. Many (but not all) boards have nominating committees that review prospective members and make recommendations to board leadership.
Why do most boards at the CALS have a financial giving expectation of their members?
Most nonprofit organizations in the U.S., including public universities like NC State and non-profits like the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., ask their board members to provide some level of financial support. A literal investment in the organization demonstrates a commitment to supporting the vision of the College or program and an endorsement of the College or program’s strategic plans and goals.
Throughout higher education, revenue from tuition and endowment falls short of covering increasing costs related to hiring and retention of top-ranked faculty members, conducting cutting-edge research in well-equipped modern laboratories, providing financial aid to brilliant but underfunded students, and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of students. In addition to managing a program or division of the College, associate deans and directors must also continuously raise money for their people, programs and priorities. Board members support deans and directors through personal donations or company gifts, as well as through assistance identifying alumni, friends and industry connections for whom the College or program’s mission and work could inspire financial support and advocacy.
It is worth noting, however, that board giving expectations vary. Some individuals may be serving on the board as powerful influencers or connectors, accelerating progress toward institutional or programmatic goals. In addition, some boards may invite individuals to participate in shorter-term service on program-specific task forces and steering committees. Participation on the steering committees or councils can serve as a first step on the volunteer leadership path, and/or appeal to alumni or friends who can’t make the time or financial commitment to board membership.
Finally, it’s important to note that board service is only one way that alumni and friends can engage in meaningful ways with CALS. There are many opportunities for volunteer leadership in CALS, most of which have no financial giving component, like volunteering at the JC Raulston Arboretum or at the annual CALS Tailgate.
I want to join a board. Where do I start?
Board membership is not usually the first volunteer engagement experience of an alumna, alumnus, parent or friend has with CALS or NC State. In most cases, by the time an individual is invited to join a board, she or he is known by associate deans, directors, and/or other senior leaders; to development officers and alumni staff; and among other volunteer leaders.
Finding a board that is a good fit may take time. The first step to board participation is understanding the volunteer leadership landscape and deciding how and where you would like to be involved. As volunteers seek higher levels of engagement and philanthropic impact, conversations with development staff can help map out giving and time expectations that come with board service. Development, program staff and leadership can provide additional information about what is required of board service and what the experience provides. Because of the fiduciary responsibilities and bylaws of the NC Agricultural Foundation, Inc., there are many different considerations required for board membership in addition to interest and suitability.
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