AGB Receives Grant to Study, Improve Board Oversight of Student Learning

Washington, D.C. – The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) has received a $200,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation for its project “Improving Board Oversight of Student Learning,” a two-year project in which AGB will develop a  set of tools and resources for  college and university boards to work more effectively with campus leaders and the faculty on monitoring the  assessment and improvement of student learning.

The project’s primary goal is to help strengthen boards’ abilities to more effectively fulfill their responsibilities related to the oversight of educational quality and student learning. Working with an advisory committee and teams from a range of diverse institutions, AGB will develop a suite of resources—recommended protocols and practices, metrics and dashboards, and case studies—that can be used at institutions of all types to help improve board engagement with these issues.  

“Through this improved engagement, boards will be able to serve as catalysts for continued improvements in educational quality at their institutions,” said AGB President Richard D. Legon. “The project will strengthen boards’ abilities to more effectively fulfill their responsibilities.”

AGB conducted a survey in 2010 on the level of board engagement in the oversight of educational quality and determined that boards are not as engaged as they should be in this important area of oversight. Among the survey results, AGB learned that:

  • More than 20 percent of all respondents said that monitoring student-learning outcomes is not a board responsibility.
  • 40 percent of respondents reported that the board does not understand the process of student-learning assessment at their institutions.
  • Less than one-quarter of respondents reported that the board uses information about student learning to inform budget decisions.

“It is critical for boards to engage in conversations about student-learning outcomes and to understand the implications of these assessments,” said AGB Executive Vice President Susan Whealler Johnston, who authored AGB’s 2010 report, How Boards Oversee Educational Quality: A Report on a Survey on Boards and the Assessment of Student Learning. “This oversight of educational quality is part of a board’s fiduciary responsibilities, and done in collaboration with institutional leaders, it contributes ultimately to greater institutional vitality and effectiveness.”

As a follow up to the 2010 survey on the level of board engagement in the oversight of educational quality, AGB issued a statement, the AGB Statement on Board Responsibility for the Oversight of Educational Quality. Released in 2011, it offers specific principles to help guide board oversight of quality and student success. Both the report and the statement are available on AGB’s Web site,


The Teagle Foundation provides leadership for liberal education, mobilizing the intellectual and financial resources that are necessary if today’s students are to have access to a challenging and transformative liberal education. The foundation’s commitment to such education includes its grant making to institutions of higher education across the country, its long-established scholarship program for the children of employees of ExxonMobil, and its work helping economically disadvantaged young people in New York City—where the foundation is based—gain admission to college and succeed once there.

For 90 years, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) has had one mission: to strengthen and protect this country’s unique form of institutional governance through its research, services, and advocacy. Serving more than 1,200 member boards and 36,000 individuals, AGB is the only national organization providing university and college presidents, board chairs, trustees, and board professionals of both public and private institutions with resources that enhance their effectiveness. AGB advances the practice of citizen trusteeship and helps ensure the quality and success of our nation's colleges and universities. In accordance with its mission, AGB has developed programs and services that strengthen the partnership between the president and governing board; provide guidance to regents and trustees; identify issues that affect tomorrow’s decision making; and foster cooperation among all constituencies in higher education

December 21, 2011