'Building a post-COVID strategy' webinar with Jim Husson of Boston College

This post was updated on Aug. 17.

In this webinar, GG+A CEO John Glier was joined by Jim Husson, Senior Vice President of University Advancement at Boston College, for a conversation on “Building a Post-COVID Strategy.”

The conversation explored how Boston College has approached the challenges of the past 14 weeks, and in particular those of the last several weeks since the murder of George Floyd.

“At the university level, we decided to really own the responsibilities that I think universities have to be a resource for both building understanding and bridging divides in our country,” Jim said.

By launching a forum on racial justice in America, Boston College “hope(s) that’s an opportunity to bring different voices to the table and take a hard look at issues and what the path forward is,” he said.

For University Advancement, the focus is on looking inward and building new skill sets in the areas of diversity and cultural sensitivity. Plans call for mandatory training programs for all Advancement staff on cultural awareness and implicit bias, as well as ongoing open forums with common readings and film viewings to stay actively involved in the dialogue.

The webinar also explores the experience of Boston College in launching its last Comprehensive Campaign in the midst of the the Great Recession, and the lessons the Advancement staff took from that experience as they have approached the challenges of the past several months.

We received a number of follow up questions to John’s conversation with Jim Husson. GG+A’s Zak Stambor spoke with Jim and summarizes his response below:

Q. What is the size of BC advancement team?

After the team grew going into the last campaign, it now stands at 225.

Q. Has BC created new initiatives to address DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion)?

In response to the ongoing national expression of anger, concern, and frustration about race-related matters, we’ve rolled out a number of initiatives, including the Forum on Racial Justice in America, which is headed by BC Law School Dean Vincent Rougeau.

Guided by Jesuit social teaching, the forum aims to contribute to the discussion of race and racist behavior in America by exploring compelling contemporary questions and concerns and developing effective responses. We aim for it to serve as a catalyst for bridging differences regarding race in America, promoting reconciliation, and encouraging fresh perspectives.

Q. How does your outreach align with the BC mission?

Every successful advancement office aligns its outreach with its institution’s mission and sense of purpose. For example, at BC we work hard to ensure that our messaging has an authentic BC voice. At BC we urge our students to look inward but always to reach out to develop their minds and talents to the fullest and to use that knowledge and wisdom in service of others. Our outreach is aligned with that value commitment because our donors are aligned with those values.

Q. How has the pandemic altered your approach to planned giving? How are you framing your approach?

We tend to take a tailored approach to planned giving. Depending on where people are in the planning process, we can work with them to address and discuss their needs. Broadly speaking, we’re very focused on increasing number of donors who include BC in their estate planning.

While that approach hasn’t changed as a result of the pandemic, the pandemic has increased our team’s sensitivity to the conversations that they should and shouldn’t have. That’s a good practice at any time, but it is particularly important at this moment.

To hear more of Jim Husson’s insights, watch our webinar below.

Building a Post-COVID Strategy: A Conversation with James Husson of Boston College

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