The AGB John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership

Now, more than ever, we need boards that provide effective, thoughtful, and courageous oversight that advance their institutions in ways that truly matter.
The application deadline for John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership is November 1, 2019.

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges seeks to recognize governing boards that have demonstrated innovation and exemplary leadership by rewarding them with the AGB John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership. Serving at the pinnacle of excellence, these are boards that go above and beyond what boards should do, and instead take board-driven measures to advance their institutions in ways that truly matter.

Recipient boards demonstrate:

  • Exceptional leadership and initiative;
  • Distinct contributions to strengthening governance and trusteeship;
  • Unusual courage in the face of difficult circumstances; or
  • Significant achievement that benefits the institution, system, or foundation.

Governing and coordinating boards—not individual board members—may claim eligibility. Any AGB member college, university, foundation, system, or coordinating board is eligible. The award will be given to up to three public and three private boards.

The recipients will be honored during a special visit to their institutions by AGB’s leadership during their spring board meetings and will receive an elegant keepsake for display. Recipients will receive three free registrations to the National Conference on Trusteeship in April, where they will also be recognized at a plenary session. The good work of the recipient boards will also be highlighted across AGB’s publications, including features in Trusteeship magazine and on AGB.org.

Nominations will be judged by a distinguished panel, which includes current and former public and private institution presidents, board members, and foundation leaders.

The John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership is exclusively sponsored by

How to Apply

Entry Guidelines
To be considered, boards should submit up to a five-page narrative describing a significant role they played in shaping their institution, system, or foundation. The narrative should focus on the board’s active role and involvement. Please include:

  • The difficult circumstances or significant opportunities that the board faced.
  • The plan the board designed within that climate.
  • The execution of this plan, including any additional challenges that arose.
  • An assessment of the board’s contributions.

Submission Process
Materials may be submitted via email to awards@agb.org or paper copies sent to:

Association of Governing Boards
John W. Nason Award
1133 20th Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC, 20036

Deadlines
Complete applications must be received by November 1, 2019.

Eligibility and Selection

Eligibility
Governing and coordinating boards—not individual board members—may claim eligibility. Any AGB member college, university, foundation, system, or coordinating board is eligible. Either a current member of the board or a professional administrator who works with the board may submit an application.

Selection Process
In December, AGB will convene a panel of judges consisting of current and former public and private institution presidents, board members, and foundation leaders. The distinguished panel will review qualified applications, evaluate them based on the provided criteria, and select winners.

Winners will be notified in late January or early February, and a public announcement will be issued.

Award Details

Awards are given annually to up to three public (including institution, system, and foundation) boards and three private or proprietary boards.

Winners will be:

  • Honored during a special visit by AGB’s leadership at their spring board meetings and given an elegant keepsake for display.
  • Recognized at a plenary session at AGB’s National Conference on Trusteeship in April, attended by hundreds of board members and top administrative leaders from around the world, and will receive three free registrations to the conference.
  • Highlighted across AGB’s publications, including features in Trusteeship magazine and on AGB.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Who may apply for this award?
Any board that is a member in good standing with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges is encouraged to apply for this award.

How can a board submit an application?
There are two options for submitting an application: by mail or electronically.

  • By mail: Please send complete applications to:
    Association of Governing Boards
    John W. Nason Award
    1133 20th St. NW, Suite 300
    Washington, DC 20036
  • Electronically: Please submit complete applications via email to awards@agb.org

What are the formatting requirements for the application?
Cover page (including name and address of the board as well as contact information for the board professional) and a five-page maximum narrative (please include the board name on each page of the narrative).

What information should be included in the narrative?
The narrative is your opportunity to describe how your board played a significant role in shaping your institution, system, or foundation. As such, please include the following:

  • The difficult circumstances or opportunities for significant achievement that your board faced.
  • The plan your board designed within that climate.
  • The execution of this plan, including any additional challenges that arose during that time.
  • An assessment of how the steps taken by your board have contributed to your institution, system, or foundation.

What if our application exceeds the five-page limit?
Judges will only be permitted to read the first five pages submitted. In order to ensure that your whole application is reviewed, please limit your narrative to five pages.

About John W. Nason

John W. Nason (1905–2001) was a higher education leader who served as a pioneer on behalf of the importance of effective good governance. He began his professional life as a philosophy professor and went on to serve as president of Swarthmore College and Carleton College, as well as the president of the Foreign Policy Association. He honored AGB by serving as the director of its Commission on the Future of College and University Trusteeship and made immense contributions to the field of higher education governance and boards, including authoring seven books—two of which are seminal works on the role and responsibilities of college and university board members. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was serving as chairman of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council during World War II. Resisting widespread prejudice and rejecting the disruption of higher education for thousands of students, Mr. Nason negotiated the release of interned Japanese-American students and persuaded higher education institutions to allow them to continue their studies. Under his guidance, the council matched more than 4,000 students with campuses across the nation.