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The National Commission on College and University Board Governance

The value of American higher education faces multiple risks, and changes in governance are needed to address them. The commission examined how well prepared the governing bodies of higher education institutions and systems are to address the myriad challenges confronting the sector.

American higher education faces many challenges, from rising costs and questions about the value of a college degree to growing tensions among constituencies about how to balance institutional self-interest with public purpose.  Formed in 2013, the National Commission on College and University Board Governance was charged with reviewing current governance practices and recommending changes it believes could help boards better meet the financial, educational, and legal challenges that confront higher education.

In its final report – Consequential Boards: Adding Value Where it Matters Most – the commission finds that despite the pace of social, economic, and political change affecting much of higher education, most college and university boards continue to approach governance as they did 50 years ago. Too often, these boards focus on narrow, near-term tactical matters instead of providing long-range strategic direction and policy. Recognizing the crucial role that boards can and should play in guiding colleges and universities, the report provides a series of recommendations to help boards engage in their distinct role more substantively and effectively.

The National Commission on College and University Board Governance calls for measures to address the challenges ahead by improving the vital oversight function of the 50,000 trustees who serve on the boards of the nation’s postsecondary institutions.

Formed in 2013, the commission met over a course of 18 months before releasing its final report in November 2014 at an event at the National Press Club (watch a recording of the event).

The National Commission on College and University Board Governance was supported by the AGB Board of Directors and by grants from Lumina Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Kendall Foundation of the Montgomery County Community Foundation.

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