In the nearly 100-year history of the Indiana University Board of Aeons, April 17 marked a first.
Rather than giving their final presentation to IU President Michael A. McRobbie in person, the board presented its findings via Zoom.
"It was definitely different," said Board President Lauren Meadows, who is serving her second year on the board. "But in many ways, Zoom is kind of the great equalizer. Everyone is just a little square on the screen. It made me a little less nervous."
The board is made up of a dozen students who advise the IU president and conduct research on campus issues. They spend months meeting with campus and community stakeholders, surveying students and compiling a report of their findings. They present that information to McRobbie during the spring semester.
Meadows said the experience gives her a better understanding of how important decisions are made across IU's campuses.
"It's definitely given me a lot more respect for what President McRobbie and administrators at IU do, because there's a ton a of interested stakeholders, a ton of people you have to please, all while trying to maintain a budget and be cognizant of student needs," she said.
The Board of Aeons was founded in 1921. Members work discreetly with the goal of improving the university. They've tackled issues ranging from alcohol on campus to managing affordability. Their research and perspectives have resulted in several improvements, including the restoration of buildings on campus and the creation of several programs.
Meadows said the board's role and influence depends on the president who they're advising.
"I think it's really special that President McRobbie is so interested in what students have to say about these topics," she said.
The board's final presentation is often celebrated with a dinner at the end of the spring semester. Meadows said while the pandemic means that won't be possible, she's looking forward to the Board of Aeons centennial in 2021.