Origins of the Board of Governors

The Georgetown University Alumni Association (GUAA) was founded in 1881. For the first six decades, there was no elected leadership. The title of GUAA President was an honorific, generally given to a prominent elder graduate. Its first president was Washington banker and philanthropist William W. Corcoran; his successor, former U.S. Congressman Charles J. Faulkner (C'1822).

Following a series of alumni reunions around the sesquicentennial of the University in 1939, GUAA President Frank Hogan (L'1902) was asked to convene a convention of regional alumni leaders to draft a constitution to revitalize the GUAA. Representatives from 33 clubs met at the 1940 reunion to draft a constitution and elect a standing Board to oversee GUAA and drive the collection of annual dues, set at $3.50 per year. The initial request garnered 236 dues paying members, a modest but encouraging start.

The were 18 initial members of Board of Governors, along with a treasurer, vice-president, and a new president, New York attorney Martin Conboy (L'1898). Faculty representatives Vincent McDonough S.J. and James S. Ruby (C'27), and Georgetown University President Arthur O'Leary S.J. were selected as ex-officio members. The combined Board represented 10 different states and five of the six schools of the University.

The first meeting of the Board took place in February 1941. The Board met three times annually, including during wartime, despite Ruby being absent due to military service. Following the war, efforts were made to further bolster GUAA through the Governors, with the incorporation of the Association in 1947, the fundraising campaigns for Alumni House and McDonough Gymnasium, the inauguration of the John Carroll Awards dinner in 1952, and the first Alumni Annual Fund in 1954. From its outset, Governors were elected by alumni at-large, which remains the only University-wide election of its kind today.

Many of Georgetown's most prominent alumni of their eras have been elected to the Board, including Thomas Leavey (1952-55), Richard McCooey (1958-61), Edward Bennett Williams (1965-68), Paul Tagliabue (1970-73) and Bill Clinton (1971-74).

Nearly 900 men and women have served as members of the Board of Governors, representing 43 states, five countries, and each of the University's undergraduate and graduate schools.

GUAA Historian, John Reagan (B'84)