Making a lasting difference
"It was an eye-opening experience to see how student government really worked on this campus, and the differences between graduate students and undergraduates."
At the start of the 2016-17 academic year, change was exactly what the Emory Student Government Association needed. Turns out Jared Greenbaum 17MBA was in the right position to modernize the 50-year-old governing body that is responsible for representing a growing student body to all stakeholders of the university.
After being elected as president of the Graduate Student Government Association, Greenbaum immediately realized that graduate students accounted for 48 percent of the Emory University student body. Yet, they lacked fair representation in the undergraduate-led SGA.
Greenbaum saw this as an opportunity and knew that a change in the structure of SGA would ensure success for Emory University’s entire student body for decades to come.
Prior to Goizueta, Greenbaum built a diverse resume that touted production stints at Nickelodeon and talent management work at one of the top management firms in Hollywood. Familiar with the importance of relationship-building, collaboration, and fast-paced work environments, he knew what it would take to transform the outdated governing organization into a streamlined network of diverse leaders that could work together as equals across the university.
“It was an eye-opening experience to see how student governance really worked on [Emory’s] campus, and understand the vast differences between graduate students and undergraduates,” he said.
“Jared is the living embodiment of our core values at Goizueta and a testament to how one student’s passion can positively impact current and future generations of Emory students."
After his election, Greenbaum laid the groundwork for his big idea: a government that provided equal representation for undergraduate and graduate students. With a modern structure, similar to ones at many of Emory’s peer institutions, both the graduate and undergraduate perspectives could inform future policies, initiatives, and programs that impacted students across the university.
His process began with a listening tour across campus to better understand the views of graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and university administrators, which provided him with a full view of the situation at hand. He then authored the bill and strategic implementation plan that would separate student governance at Emory into two separate governing bodies: SGA, which would represent Emory’s 7,800 undergraduate students, and GSGA, which would represent 7,200 graduate students.
The bill was presented to the student body and passed with 91.2 percent of voters in favor of the new structure. As of Feb. 1, 2017, the new structure was put into place and now Emory has two separate governing bodies, SGA and GSGA, each governed by and for their respective constituents, with the individual school level student governments (e.g. BBA Council, Medical School Senate, etc.) reporting to SGA or GSGA, respectively.
“Graduate students attend [Emory] with the mindset of going to work,” Greenbaum said. “Undergraduates have a residential relationship with the university, their lives are centered around campus because they live here. For graduate students, it’s more of a transactional relationship — if we don’t need to be [on campus], we’re usually not.”
Because graduate students may have spouses and children while pursuing their degree, their priorities are different than undergraduates and events like Dooley’s Week might not be as high of a priority for them as it is for a student in the college.
Greenbaum’s work and dedication to restructuring student governance at Emory, which in turn restructured the governing system for the entire university reaching from the Board of Trustees to individual undergraduate and graduate schools, earned him the prestigious Marion Luther Brittain Award. This award is presented each year to two graduating students, one undergraduate and one graduate, who have performed the most “significant, meritorious and devoted service to Emory University, with no expectations of recognition or reward.”
Greenbaum was the first student from Goizueta Business School to win in 20 years, and only the second winner ever from the school.
Greenbaum’s bold vision truly represents the Goizueta spirit — a reminder of what a clear vision and commitment to positive change can do for our society and world.
“Jared is the living embodiment of our core values at Goizueta and a testament to how one student’s passion can positively impact current and future generations of Emory students,” said Corey Dortch, senior director of engagement and community at Goizueta.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In 2019 Greenbaum began working for Keeling & Associates, a boutique higher education consulting firm that does strategic planning, program review, and executive search for colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. He reports his portfolio of projects focuses on student voice and improving student experience.