Making Metrics Matter: How to Use Indicators to Govern Effectively, January/February 2011

Trusteeship Magazine Cover image

The January/ February 2011 issue of Trusteship covers a variety of topics concerning governance: from how metrics can be a vital tool to the importance of keeping board-president relationships fresh to the future of online education. For the cover story, Trusteeship tapped three leaders of prominent institutions to discuss how they use metrics to govern. "Board Complacency and the Experienced President" and "Freedom to Fail? The Board's Role in Reducing College Dropout Rates" tackle the issue of pursing excellence both in the board room and around campus. "Online Education: Where Is It Going? What Should Boards Know?" explores the evolution of online learning and "Board Budget Decisions: Protecting and Building Your Institution's Assets" covers ways boards can be more strategic about the evergreen issue of spending.

Making Metrics Matter: How to Use Indicators to Govern Effectively

Lawrence S. Bacow, and Laura Skandera Trombley

Many institutions develop specific measures or indicators— often called "dashboards"—to inform boards and top administrators about the college or university's current situation and performance and assist them in moving the institution ahead strategically. And, increasingly, institutions are using metrics not only to assess internal progress but also to respond to external calls for greater accountability from policy makers and the public. To explore the various methods in use, Trusteeship asked three college leaders how they use indicators to govern their instititutions.

Board Complacency and the Experienced President

Steven C. Bahls

College and university boards, and their presidents, are particularly at risk for a culture of complacency when a president has served his or her initial term and has been appointed to a new term. The antidote to an arrogance of excellence is continued (and revived) board engagement.

Freedom to Fail? The Board's Role in Reducing College Dropout Rates

Stan Jones

Today more than 70 percent of young Americans enroll in some type of advanced education and training within two years of graduating from high school. But only about half of those who pursue a four-year degree full-time finish it within six years. Worse yet, little more than two in 10 students pursuing an associate degree fulltime make it to graduation day in three years. Part-time students fare even worse.

Online Education: Where Is It Going? What Should Boards Know?

Kenneth C. Green and Ellen Wagner

Nearly a third of all students at colleges in America took one or more online courses last year. Online learning has slowly but steadily re-emerged from the ashes of the overhyped capabilities and unrealistic expectations of the era a decade ago.

Board Budget Decisions: Protecting and Building Your Institution's Assets

Dennis Jones

If ever there were a time for college leaders to think creatively about allocating their resources, it is now. The pressure to graduate more students is relentless. The situation demands that institutions be more focused on goals and make much more strategic use of their available resources.

Autonomy and the Pursuit of Innovative Solutions

Susanne Svizeny and Eleanor V. Horne

Answering to autonomous boards assures that each college’s most important decisions are approved by an independent group that seeks to support the needs of the state, informed by a full appreciation of the particular institution’s mission and strengths.

Why Do the New Financial Industry Regulations Matter to Higher Education?

Pamela J. Bernard

Although the Dodd-Frank Act’s new provisions apply to securitieslaw violations, college and university boards should understand the increasing Congressional intolerance for regulatory noncompliance.

Do Ask, Don't Tell-The Proper Board Recipe

Edwin H. Welch

How can board members find the proper balance between taking no personal collective responsibility under the guise of leaving administrators alone to do their jobs and dictating institutional decisions?

The Impact of State Disinvestment on Board Responsibilities

David Miles

Prolonged state disinvestment from public higher education has important implications for governing boards. It is more crucial than ever to work effectively with governors and state legislators.

Higher-Education Chief Executives and Service on Corporate Boards

Merrill P. Schwartz

AGB conducted a survey of 1,298 chief executives of member colleges, universities, and systems regarding their service on for-profit corporate boards. Chief executives found great value in service on corporate boards, including enhanced understanding of board members, improved governance practices, opportunities for fund raising, and better management, finance, and investment strategies.

What Should Boards Know About the Common Core State Standards?

Michael Cohen

Starting in 2009, under the leadership of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), states convened to create K–12 academic standards in English and mathematics. Since then, 43 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Michael Cohen, whose organization, Achieve, was instrumental in the effort, talks about the standards and their implications for higher education.