Board of Advisors to champion departments, co-curriculars

by Maya Gacina / Beacon Correspondent • November 2, 2017

Joshua Wachs ‘87 started an initiative last month to allow members from the Board of Advisors, a governing body which aims to connect Emerson students and faculty to outside industries, to self-appoint themselves as ‘Champions’ to an area of study or expertise at Emerson.

The Champions aim to foster engagement and involvement with the students and faculty by selecting an area of study where they see themselves as most effective, Wachs, a member of the Board of Advisors, formerly known as the Board of Overseers, and newly self-appointed esports champion, said.

“I like the word ‘Champion’ because it is both a noun and a verb,” he said. “You are the Champion but you are also championing the cause.”

The basis for creating Champions came from Wachs’ ties to esports at Emerson, which combines communication studies with the competitive video gaming program, and the Board of Advisors’ desire to work more directly with the Emerson community, Wachs said.

“We were thinking of what was going to be the best way to match the passions and interests of different board members with different areas at Emerson and of Emerson communities,” he said. “How do we get those [board members] wanting to do more and be recognized as an area of expertise and resource for students and faculty to use?”

Wachs works closely with the co-presidents of Emerson’s esports organization, juniors Aaron Van Leesten and Josiah Seet.

“It’s really good that [the Board of Advisors are] allowed to be champions in different skills and industries,” Seet said. “I think a lot of people think the Board of Advisors is like this nebulous presence that makes decisions, but it’s cool to see the personalities and passions of each Board Advisor sort of reflected in what they are championing.”

Member of the Board of Advisors and newly appointed Innovation Champion Mark Donovan ‘89 has been building new businesses for the past 25 years, he said, and over 15 years of executive-level leadership in innovation experience. As the Innovation Champion, Emerson is the perfect platform to teach and guide students through the innovation industry and the problem-solving process, he said.

So far, Champions have been appointed to areas including esports, innovation, public affairs, social media affairs, marketing, and entertainment. Advisors can champion multiple fields too, Wachs said. He does not want to give each Champion out by name yet as the Advisors are still in the early stages of transitioning to those roles, he said.

As a member of the Board of Advisors, Wachs advocated for the esports organization and program. He helped launch the esports newsletter and aided the student organization in presenting their accomplishments to the Board of Trustees, the President, and admissions, Seet said.

“In the past, because his role wasn’t so well defined, I don’t think [Wachs] was as nearly as effective as he currently is in advocating for us,” Van Leesten said.

Last semester during the production of an esports event called the Super Smash Brothers Tournament, Van Leesten and Seet became the main point of contact for industry professionals interested in working with the student organization, Van Leesten said.

“It was just Josiah and I struggling to pull everything together for months, with anything from trying to get sponsored for food, trying to get the venue, to trying to work with different partners to make sure everything was working,” he said. “It was an interesting role to play, but I don’t believe it would be appropriate for most students to play and I think that’s where Champions could be most effective.”

Wachs expects to have a solidified list of Champions in the next four weeks, he said. Interested students and faculty will be able to get in touch with Nicole Sullivan, office of communications assistant director of media relations, to connect with Champion board members.

Deputy News Editor Max Reyes did not edit this article.