About the Group on Institutional Advancement (GIA)
The Group on Institutional Advancement (GIA) is one of 15 professional development groups within the AAMC. Its membership is composed of more than 700 alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and public affairs professionals at AAMC-member institutions.
The GIA fosters the professional growth of its members in their endeavors to enhance awareness, understanding, and support among the public, the media, alumni, policymakers, and donors for medical education, health care, and biomedical research.
The group now known as the GIA began meeting informally in the 1950s when the AAMC governance asked the few existing medical school public relations people to staff the press room at the AAMC Annual Meeting. In the following years, the group elected its first chair (1962), began holding regular meetings in conjunction with the AAMC Annual Meeting (1950), wrote bylaws (1968), and was formally organized as the Section on Public Relations (1968). In 1972, the AAMC Executive Council recognized them as the Group on Public Affairs. In the late 1970s, the group expanded its mission and membership to incorporate medical center alumni and fund-raising professionals, and in 1981, the name was changed to the Group on Public Affairs to recognize the new diversity of the membership. In the early 1990s, programming increasingly focused on helping members collaborate for the advancement of their institutions. In 1993, reflecting the common goals that join its diverse membership, the group changed its name to the Group on Institutional Advancement.
The purpose of alumni relations as an institutional advancement discipline is to encourage and foster the involvement of alumni in the life of their alma mater as ambassadors, advocates, advisors, benefactors and educational partners. As alumni relations practitioners, our role is to respect, inform and involve alumni, while also seeking to champion the role of alumni relations as a professional discipline in partnership with and in service to our academic medicine institutions and our alumni associations.
Communications is the practice of conveying messages to the public through a variety of means on behalf of a client (internal or external), with the intention of changing the public's actions by influencing their opinions. PR practitioners usually target only certain segments of the public or "audiences," since similar opinions tend to be shared by a group of people rather than an entire society. However, by targeting different audiences with different messages to achieve an overall goal, PR practitioners can achieve widespread opinion and behavior change.
The development discipline is rooted in the practice of establishing relationships with individuals, corporations, foundations and other giving entities for the purpose of soliciting philanthropic support for an institution's funding needs. Development practitioners focus on identifying a potential donor's areas of interest and advancing the relationships through a series of strategic contacts, using a variety of methods. The goal of development is to create a long-term bond between a donor and the institution that will result in repeated and/or increased giving over time.
From academic accomplishments to clinical achievements, academic medicine marketing professionals are challenged with increasing marketing share and developing strategies that positively affect consumer preference. Using such tools as market analysis, customer satisfaction surveys, strategic planning, and evaluation, marketing professionals work to advance the patient care delivery goals of their institutions.
Defined as efforts to affect public opinion and public perceptions on policy issues, public affairs builds awareness and shapes public opinion via message development, public opinion research, development of research-tested messages, advocacy advertising, strategic media relations, and grassroots mobilization. By working in tandem with governmental relations, public affairs results in integrated campaigns that enhance an institution's ability to influence key audiences and the public policy process.
The GIA holds two meetings a year-the national meeting, in conjunction with the AAMC Annual Meeting that is held in the fall, and the National Professional Development Conference, held in the spring. Both meetings provide the latest information on broad institutional advancement issues as well as skills-building workshops in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and public affairs.
The GIA officers shall include a chair, chair-elect, vice chair for communications/marketing/public affairs, vice chair for alumni/development, and an executive secretary. The executive secretary also serves as treasurer of the group.
Members of the AAMC Group on Institutional Advancement (GIA) have made significant contributions to the communities in which they visit, through volunteer service projects and other charitable activities. It is this unique spirit of giving—in addition to valuable networking and professional development opportunities—that sets GIA apart from other national membership groups and organizations.