University Speakers Bureau Provides Service, Builds Relationships

Posted: September 28, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Megan McDonnell

Community service has taken on an academic edge, thanks to George Mason faculty, staff, and alumni. The University Speakers Bureau, administered by the Community Relations Office, provides a valuable resource to the surrounding community, and in the process, has proved to be an excellent way for George Mason to gain visibility and build relationships.

The Speakers Bureau has been in existence in one form or another since the 1980s. It was primarily established to educate the community on the role of faculty and the university throughout the region and the state and gain community support on bond referendums. It has developed into a way to assist community organizations in locating Mason faculty, staff, and alumni who are experts in a range of subject areas and who are willing to speak to their members at no charge.

The program as it functions today began in 1993 with 28 volunteers covering 91 topics and has had up to 148 volunteers (1996-97) and 376 topics (2001-02). The program currently has 114 volunteers speaking on 363 topics. During the past 11 years, the Speakers Bureau has filled more than 1,000 speaking engagements.

One of the most popular topics in the program, “Getting to Happy: Seven Practical Steps to a Happier and More Contented Life,” is presented by Robert Rogowsky, School of Public Policy. Other popular topics are “quality of life” subjects, including health and fitness, aging, and communication.

“It is because of the commitment of our faculty, staff, and alumni; their expertise in their fields; and their willingness to share that knowledge with our Northern Virginia community that this program is a success,” says Traci Claar, Community Relations director. “It helps build solid, positive relationships with our community and business leaders.”

Since 1999, groups requesting a speaker have been able to access the Speakers Bureau database and request form online. The database has a complete list of available speeches listed by topic. Both the requesting organization and the speaker fill out evaluation forms, which always come back with the highest marks, according to Claar.

Faculty, staff, and alumni who would like to volunteer to speak to organizations and businesses in the area as part of the University Speakers Bureau should contact Claar at 703-993-8846.

Write to at