Beyond Recognition: The Value in Volunteering for AACSB
AACSB shows us that we are in this effort to advance business education together, and often an outside perspective is just the perspective we need to see how we are part of a larger movement.
I think all of us would agree that you cannot be in higher education without having a passion for serving. In fact, our motto at East Carolina University is servire, “to serve.” At ECU, we are dedicated to serving eastern North Carolina and all those who have supported us over the years.
AACSB has been supportive of our school’s efforts since we gained our first accreditation more than 50 years ago. It should be no surprise, then, that part of my service to ECU and the college of business is to be an active AACSB volunteer. I have served in various volunteer roles for more than a decade. I am an ardent supporter of the association’s mission of fostering engagement, and I encourage anyone involved with AACSB to engage with the organization because the benefits are numerous.
How It Began
My volunteer involvement with AACSB started with the Associate Deans Affinity Group. This relationship enabled me to engage with colleagues around the world who were facing many of the same issues that I also faced, both personally and professionally. I helped organize network dinners, develop sessions focused on key topics, and promoted the value of involvement. What was my ROI? I created connections worldwide. I now regularly interact with colleagues and share advice, experiences, challenges, and successes. What other industry does that? AACSB shows us that we are in this effort to advance business education together. Each of us works hard to accomplish our unique school mission, but often an outside perspective is just the perspective we need to see how we are part of a larger movement.
Recently I was asked to facilitate AACSB’s Volunteer Advisory Group. The purpose of this group is to help AACSB better engage, train, deploy, and recognize organizational volunteers. As is typical with AACSB, the group is a cross section of the membership. We have members from every region who perform various roles at their institutions. It is an honor to work with this outstanding group of passionate business education professionals who enhance the volunteer experience and prove its worth. To date, we have held an organizational meeting at AACSB’s International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) and conducted several virtual meetings. If you were at ICAM this year, you probably saw the volunteer wall.
More than 1,000 people volunteer with AACSB. The group is making good progress, and AACSB is actively listening to our ideas and acting on some of them. Recently, AACSB has sent out letters to supervisors thanking individuals for their efforts.
It’s Not About Recognition
I’ll make an assertion here and suggest that volunteers do not seek recognition, but, speaking on behalf of an institution, we want to celebrate those who have engaged with AACSB. An effort is underway to better recognize volunteers because we understand the value they bring to AACSB and their institutions.
Volunteers also are taking a more prominent place on AACSB’s website and at its conferences and seminars. We are examining ways we can identify school experts who can contribute to various areas of thought leadership, as well as the possibility of providing a database of expertise that can be leveraged for multiple opportunities.
Keep this in mind if you are asking yourself whether you have the time to volunteer; it all depends on how you approach it. I referenced ROI earlier. I believe there is a significant ROI because I come away from each interaction encouraged and with a new perspective. But, to be honest, I don’t track it. My support of AACSB is part of my daily routine here at ECU because I know my experiences and what I learn will only help those we serve.
We have made great strides thanks to our volunteers, but progress doesn’t happen without you. Please share your volunteer interests with us by updating your profile on the volunteer portal. This will enable all of us to be engaged in meaningful ways.
I look forward to connecting with you soon.
Paul Schwager is interim dean at East Carolina University College of Business in Greenville, North Carolina, and chair of the AACSB Volunteer Advisory Group. Follow him on Twitter at @PHSchwager.