Advisory Committee Toolkit Maintenance


Advisory Committee Toolkit

IV. Maintenance of Advisory Committees

This section provides information on ways to keep your advisory committee in good working order.


Communication with members will occur in both:

  • formal settings and
  • informal settings.

Resource  Use Resource 4.1 to identify the best ways to communicate with your members.

Advisory committees should strive to streamline formal face-to-face meetings as much as possible. Business will balk and drop out of the advisory committee if they perceive that you are wasting their time with unproductive meetings. Providing materials for review in advance, either by email, regular mail, or other digital technologies, can ensure that meeting time is reserved for interactive discussions and decision-making. Tours and lectures should not be scheduled during a regular meeting.

Resource  Use Resource 4.2 to brainstorm ideas for streamlining meetings.


Meeting discussions should focus on the agenda, and every attempt should be made to involve each member. Time should be allowed for open, free discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the program. The committee chair should be able to draw on the expertise of individual committee members and not let any one member or school official dominate the discussion.

The committee should establish meeting ground rules. These rules could include the following:

  • Encourage everyone to participate equally.
  • Share ideas freely.
  • Provide constructive suggestions rather than negative criticisms.
  • Stay on track and on time.
  • Be concise.

Resource  Use Resource 4.3 to establish ground rules for meetings.

Effective Meetings

Well-organized meetings add to the advisory committee's effectiveness. Busy committee members are more likely to remain involved when their time is used well.

Resource  Use Resource 4.3A to determine how well your committee is satisfying the criteria for effective meetings.

Structure of Meetings

  • Frequency of Meetings
    Each committee must meet a minimum of two times annually. (Electronic meetings are acceptable). The work plan will dictate the number of meetings. Meetings should NEVER be called simply for the sake of holding a meeting.

  • What Time to Meet
    Meeting times should be convenient for the business/industry members. Regardless of what time a meeting is scheduled, most members will appreciate refreshments.

  • Where to Meet
    Meetings can be held at educational institutions, a local restaurant, or the company. Regardless, the location should be whatever is most convenient for the majority of the committee’s members.

  • How Long to Meet
    A meeting does not need to be long to be effective. The constant should be quality of content, not time. Most meetings will last one to two hours.

Resource  Use Resource 4.4 to determine when, for how long, and where your committee will meet.

Organized meetings are one of the keys to a successful advisory committee. Establishing a meeting schedule at the beginning of the academic year will allow committee members to plan their calendars accordingly.

Meeting Correspondence Steps

  1. Establish meeting date

  2. Save-the-date(s) notice sent

  3. Invitation and proposed agenda (2 weeks prior)

  4. Remind to attend (1 week prior)

  5. Meeting

  6. After meeting (thank you, minutes)

Resource  See Resources 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, and 4.8 for sample letters.

Use Resource 4.9 to determine the who, when, and how of carrying out tasks such as establishing meetings times and places, developing meeting agendas, and communicating with members.

Meeting Agenda

Agenda topics will be dictated by the program of work, but sample agenda topics could include:

  • Academic preparation of students
  • Labor market trends
  • Impacts of federal and state legislation
  • Emerging fields and potential new courses and programs
  • Curriculum development (academic, technical, and essential skills)
  • Instructional development
  • Facilities requirements
  • Recruitment of students
  • Marketing of programs and graduates
  • Work performance of graduates
  • Program review processes and outcomes
  • Equipment
  • Staff development for instructors

Resource  See Resource 4.10 for sample meeting agenda items.

Meeting Minutes: It's a Process

All advisory committees and subcommittee meetings must have written minutes. Minutes are the official record of the committee's activities. They help members understand the group's progress, concerns, decisions, and actions. Copies of all agendas and past meeting minutes should be on record with the secretary, with the department head, and/or on the advisory committee's or educational institution's website.

Step 1: Advisory Committee Meeting
Support Staff—The advisory committee's support staff records minutes. It is not necessary to record all discussions. Minutes generally include a listing of those who attended the meeting (name, occupation, and organization); a summary of each issue that was discussed; and any decisions, assignments, or recommendations that were made.

Step 2: After Meeting
Committee Chair—Written minutes should be submitted to the committee chair for review and signature.

Step 3: After Meeting
Secretary—Secretary sends out minutes. The minutes should be sent out in a timely fashion (1–2 weeks) after the meeting. In addition, previous minutes may be sent with the notice for the upcoming meeting.


Date of Meeting:

Members present: (List)

Members absent: (List)

Others present: (List)

Call to order—Committee Chair Keith Johnson called the meeting to order at 7:00 a.m. and expressed appreciation for attendance and participation. Johnson stressed the importance of the committee's continuing support and assistance on developing career ladders with industry recognized credentials. Dr. Jane Doe, College President, greeted the committee. She stressed the college's work in the addition of more certifications.

Minutes—Minutes of the last meeting were approved as submitted.

Unfinished business—No unfinished business was brought before the committee.

New business—Chair Johnson asked the committee to make suggestions concerning "What entry-level certifications are needed by industry?" Ben Martinez indicated that a computer background would be helpful for employees. Eva Johnson further emphasized the need for computer training. She indicated that a job applicant with computer knowledge has an advantage. It was the consensus of the committee that expanded computer training should be added to the program as soon as possible. The chair was asked to appoint a subcommittee to investigate several kinds of computers and software for possible purchase. It was agreed that the subcommittee would report to the committee at the next meeting.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 a.m.

______________________, Secretary

Resource  Use Resource 4.11 as a template for taking minutes.

Other Communication Strategies

Advisory committees should create communication channels that help to maintain close employer-educator relationships that go beyond those established through formal meetings. The ability of the committee to make decisions during meetings will depend to a large extent on how well the members communicate between meetings.

Communication Strategies
Strategy Description Characteristics Uses
Impact documents One-page snapshots that keep the committee updated on current events Informal; compact, typically one-page, shared through email or posted on website Internal press releases; updates on new activities, processes, and/or results
Periodic highlights These are one-page summaries of major activities and accomplishments during a specific time period. The person who writes the highlights should be careful in distinguishing between confirmed results and anticipated or projected results. Typically one-page; covers a time period (month or semester) Summary of major activities or accomplishment
Annual report(See Resource 4.12A for a sample.) The report does not need to be lengthy. Information from the periodic highlights can be used as the basis for the annual report. Be sure to include general student outcome data (how many students are in the pathway, how many graduated, etc.). Concise information on significant program and committee accomplishments Disseminate to members and the community
Letters Impact documents such as periodic highlights and annual reports can be distributed in the form of newsletters. Assembly and layout of the newsletters could be assigned as student projects

Resource  Use Resource 4.12 to help determine which communication strategies your committee will use.

Resource  Use Resource 4.12A as a template for developing an annual report.

Resource  Use Resource 4.12B as a template for writing a press release.

Using Technology for Communication

Most people conduct meetings as the prime way to communicate because a face-to-face meeting is comfortable for them, but that method may not be the best for using the committee's time wisely. Listed below are categories and descriptions of connective technologies that you might consider using in communicating with your advisory committee.

Using Technology for Communication
Technology Description Examples
Blogs A blog is an online journal that you share with other people. People can post entries and others can read, write, or edit this journal. You can develop a blog for your existing website or there are several sites that offer free blog hosting.
Collaborating and file sharing Allows you to create and share your work online. Applications include documents, spreadsheets and presentations. You can upload from and save to your desktop, edit anytime and from anywhere, and choose who can access your documents.
Groups and listservs/email The Internet provides a fast and efficient medium for communication between committee members and for committee management. Groups allow groups of people have discussions about common interests. Groups can discuss, upload, and share files.
Meeting schedulers and invitations A meeting schedule is an online productivity tool that allows you to arrange and schedule meetings (and other events). Usually the tool sends out invitations to participants proposing times; summarizes their responses; updates you on the results; sends confirmations and reminders prior to meetings.
Online surveys, polls, and registrations You can create and publish customized surveys in a short amount of time. You send out invitations to the survey via email and the participants can go online to take the survey. Services allow you to collect, sort, and analyze the responds. This would be an excellent tool to survey your business partners on hiring trends, skills need, or just about anything related to information that you need from them. (Google Docs and Forms)
Podcasting Podcast is a buzzword to describe downloading audio or video files from the Internet to a portable device (IPod or MP3 player). You might wish to video a meeting or a workshop so that others who could not attend can see it in a podcast form.
RSS news feeds RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It's an easy way for you to keep up with news and information that's important to you, and helps you avoid the conventional methods of browsing or searching for information on websites.
Social networks A social network site is an online community of people who have a common interest. Your advisory committee could build a profile (who, what, where, why) and then share files, have a discussion, and even have subgroups (subcommittees).
Teleconference Teleconference is a telephone between participants in two or more locations. Teleconferences are similar to telephone calls, but they can expand discussion to more than two people. This works well for small subcommittee meetings.
Text messaging Texting is the common term for sending a brief text message over cell phones. This would be a great way to remind someone of a meeting on the day of the meeting. Individual cell phone plans
Video sharing/video blogging Allows you to post and download videos.
Web conferencing or videoconferencing and VOIP Web conferencing tools allow you to meet online rather than in a conference room. A webinar is a neologism to describe a specific type of web conference. It is typically one-way, from the speaker to the audience with limited audience interaction, such as in a webcast. A webinar can be collaborative and include polling and question-and-answer sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter. VOIP technology allows you to make telephone calls over the Internet (converts voice signals into data streams that are sent over the Internet and converted back to audio by the recipient's computer).
Web site If the program has a link on the institution's website, the committee should be able to make good use of it. Ideally, it would provide at least two links:

Public access link—This link would lead the viewer to information that is of interest to the public, such as general information on the program and the activities of the committee.

"Committee members only" link—This link would provide a connection point for committee and subcommittee members. This is the equivalent of the "back office" area reserved (by password protection) exclusively for authorized personnel.
(Google Sites)
Check with your institution
Wikis A wiki is basically a website that allows everyone who registers to add and change content. The most common wiki application is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. Wikis are easy to use as all you need is a computer, a web browser, and an Internet connection—no software, no website skills—to begin having very interactive communications with many people simultaneously.

Resource  Use Resource 4.13 to determine how your committee will use technology.


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