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ERIC Number: ED505828
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Pages: 29
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
The New Ethics of Trusteeship: How Public College and University Trustees Can Meet Higher Public Expectations
Leslie, David; MacTaggart, Terry
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
Expectations of trustees have undergone a dramatic change in the wake of the Enron debacle, the new strictures of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and several new state policies, laws, and executive actions. Additionally, well-publicized examples of inadequate trustee oversight have affected the public's and policymakers' perceptions of higher education. As a result, it is increasingly clear that the public and their representatives expect college and university trustees not to merely avoid irresponsible behavior, but to take positive, systematic actions in the interest of the institutions they oversee. This "new ethic of trusteeship" continues the trend of expecting boards to be more deeply engaged in their governance role. This paper summarizes the time-honored fiduciary responsibilities of trustees and suggests how the world of trusteeship has changed since Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. Although the law does not apply to nonprofits, which includes colleges and universities, virtually all boards are aware of its implications, especially how it influences the interpretation of fiduciary responsibilities. The cumulative effect of public concern over failures of boards, both corporate and academic, to honor their fiduciary obligations should lead trustees to pursue a proactive agenda. While this paper focuses primarily on actions by states and public college and university governing boards, many of its suggestions also apply to independent college and university boards. One appendix is included. (Contains 33 footnotes and a selected bibliography.) [This report was prepared by the Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.]
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. 1133 20th Street NW Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-356-6317; Tel: 202-296-8400; Fax: 202-223-7053; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance