Customer Stories

Mississippi State University

MSU transforms its boardrooms into one-stop-shops for digital resources, empowering more efficient meeting prep, and more productive board meetings.

Mississippi State University


Industry: Higher Education

Campus: Starkville, Mississippi

Board Management Goals

  • Consolidate board materials for easy access 
  • Simplify board management 
  • Digitize creation of board materials 


  • Seamless implementation 
  • Anytime, anywhere access to board information, from contacts to bylaws 
  • 25-30% time savings on creation of board books 


Mississippi State Empowers Board Members with 24/7 Access to Relevant Board-Related Information

The Division of Development and Alumni at Mississippi State University serves the university’s more than 150,000 living alumni and facilitates the majority of fundraising activities for the land-grant institution. The Division is comprised of two interlocking units, the MSU Alumni Association and the MSU Foundation. As administrative assistant to the executive director of development, Lisa Hearn is responsible for organizing board meetings, retreats, events, and other matters involving the 47-member board. 

“The board meets three times each year,” Hearn says. “The board committees also meet at different times throughout the year, so keeping up with members and details for all the meetings is a big challenge.”  

Like most in her position, board matters and meetings are not Hearn’s only charge. “Having to stop other projects I’m responsible for in order to put together separate board books for each member was really stressful,” Hearn says. “It took a lot of time and a whole team of people to make it happen.” 

"My greatest experience with OnBoard is viewing it as a one-stop shop for all board-related information."

— Lisa Hearn
assistant to the executive director of development
Mississippi State University


The Right Time for Digital Transformation

The move toward more efficient digital tools for board management began with a well-timed comment from a board member. “Before he retired, he served as an executive for an oil production company in Texas and asked if we’d ever considered migrating to an online portal,” Hearn says.

“As a matter of fact, we had been considering tools we’d heard about at conferences, but we’d never moved in that direction,” she says. “He told us about his positive experience with these tools and we thought, ‘maybe now’s the time, especially since a board member is asking about it.’”   

Hearn’s division reviewed several board management platforms, but with the input of the executive director of the Foundation’s information services team, chose the OnBoard board intelligence platform.  

Easing the Most Obvious Burden

Naturally, one of the first priorities was to simplify the creation of board books. “OnBoard has replaced the paper board book, which is wonderful,” Hearn says. “The board now has all the material at their fingertips.” As an administrator, she also appreciates the program’s ease of use. “It is very easy to navigate. I like the fact that if I am on the road somewhere and I need to call a board member, I don’t have to carry a directory with me. I can just pull up OnBoard. If I have a meeting halfway across the country and I need to reference our bylaws, I know it’s in OnBoard.”  

From an administrative standpoint, Hearn estimates a 25-to-30%-time savings in board book creation. “When you do it the paper way,” she says, “you have to organize and print the material before binding it into the books. When you are doing it digitally, you just upload to the platform. It’s a very simple, very easy, very seamless process.” 

The ability to access board resources in digital format or even via phone app means members can review their material anywhere, anytime. That helps them stay better prepared and better informed. “Those who are engaged with OnBoard love it,” says Hearn. 

The Right Instruction Maximizes solution value

OnBoard worked with Hearn’s division to ensure a smooth implementation, optimal functionality, and maximum buy-in. They customized the solution to meet the Foundation’s specific needs and helped introduce board members to its capabilities. “During the implementation and with OnBoard’s support,” Hearn says, “we were able to provide board members with 1-on-1 assistance.”  

She also worked with her OnBoard Customer Success Manager to provide an instructional/refresher class for new and returning members. The class was also available to staff and others who have access to the portal. “We had a lot of positive feedback from members,” Hearn says. “I appreciate that the OnBoard customer success manager took the initiative to help us carry it out. I hope to be able to offer the class every year going forward.” 

“We had a very successful launch,” Hearn says. “The team was great, and they made it seem easy.” She looks forward to growing with OnBoard and using more of its features. “Right now, we are comfortable using the survey feature and hope to incorporate e-signatures as needed. So far,” she says, “my greatest experience with OnBoard is viewing it as a one-stop shop for all board-related information. It’s where we have all the board members’ contact information, meeting schedules, and all their reference materials. We hope to reach 100% participation and look forward to all board matters being handled through OnBoard.” 

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