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ERIC Number: ED549853
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 32
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Consequential Boards: Adding Value Where It Matters Most. Report of the National Commission on College and University Board Governance
Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
The value of American higher education faces multiple risks, and changes in governance are needed to address them. At risk are accessibility and degree attainment for current and future students, institutional fiscal sustainability, educational quality, economic development and social equity, service to communities, and knowledge creation. Higher education cannot expect to return to the traditions that worked happily 50 years ago, when mostly honorific boards concentrated on selecting prominent leaders and on fundraising, and in which state and federal governments did not ask many questions about performance. In the future, higher education must be reconfigured to recognize new student populations, altered educational delivery methods, basic changes in financing, and rising expectations from the public. Boards must be at the forefront of those changes, because their fiduciary role requires them to focus on strategic long-term issues and the intersection of internal and public interests. Presidents and faculty will not be able to lead such changes on their own. Boards are not the source of all of the governance challenges in higher education, but they can play a critical role in improving decision making within the sector. This report offers seven recommendations aimed at boards in support of the distinct role only they can play in improving institutional value through more effective governance. They are: (1) Boards must improve value in their institutions and lead a restoration of public trust in higher education itself; (2) Boards must add value to institutional leadership and decision making by focusing on their essential role as institutional fiduciaries; (3) Boards must act to ensure the long-term sustainability of their institutions by addressing changed finances and the imperative to deliver a high-quality education at a lower cost; (4) Boards must improve shared governance within their institutions through attention to board president relationships and a reinvigoration of faculty shared governance. Boards additionally must attend to leadership development in their institutions, both for presidents and faculty. (5) Boards must improve their own capacity and functionality through increased attention to the qualifications and recruitment of members, board orientation, committee composition, and removal of members for cause; (6) Boards must focus their time on issues of greatest consequence to the institution by reducing time spent reviewing routine reports and redirecting attention to cross-cutting and strategic issues not addressed elsewhere; and (7) Boards must hold themselves accountable for their own performance by modeling the same behaviors and performance they expect from others in their institutions. "Fiduciary Duties of Boards of Trustees of Colleges and Universities" is provided in the appendix [Additional funding for this report was provided by the Kendall Foundation of the Montgomery County Community Foundation.]
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: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges