For boards that go beyond.
Now, more than ever, we need boards that provide effective, thoughtful, and courageous oversight that advance their institutions in ways that truly matter. The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges seeks to recognize higher education 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.
Demonstrating boardroom excellence.
Each year, recipient boards display one or more of the following actions. Nominations are judged by a distinguished panel, which includes current and former public and private institution presidents, board members, and foundation leaders.
Exceptional leadership and initiative
Distinct contributions to strengthening governance and trusteeship
Unusual courage in the face of difficult circumstances
Significant achievement that benefits the institution, system, or foundation
Additionally, special criteria for 2022 will focus on leadership by the board that has resulted in the advancement of the educational mission in just, equitable, and inclusive ways. For example, boards may have resourced, planned, or otherwise enabled:
- Marked improvements in student success and/or campus climate;
- Demonstrated campus resilience or learning related to unrest or controversy; or
- Initiatives that have yielded beneficial change in local communities.
How to apply.
To be considered, boards should submit up to a five-page narrative describing how their leadership meets award criteria. 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 those circumstances.
- The execution of this plan, including any additional challenges that arose.
- An assessment of the board’s contributions.
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 a nomination.
In November, AGB will convene a diverse panel of judges consisting of current and former higher education governance leaders from a variety of institutions and a variety of backgrounds. The distinguished panel will review qualified nominations, evaluate them based on the provided criteria, and select recipients.
All nominees will be individually notified of their selection status in early December. A public press release of award recipients will be issued shortly thereafter.
Awards are given annually to up to six boards and are typically distributed evenly among public, private or proprietary, and institutionally-related foundation 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, or the Foundation Leadership Forum in January (foundation boards only), attended by hundreds of board members and top administrative leaders from around the world, and will receive three free event registrations.
- Highlighted across AGB’s publications, including features in Trusteeship magazine and on AGB.org
- Trusteeship Article on 2020–21 Nason Award Recipients
- Trusteeship Article on 2019–20 Nason Award Recipients
- Trusteeship Article on 2018–19 Nason Award Recipients
- Trusteeship Article on 2017–18 Nason Award Recipients
- Trusteeship Article on 2016–17 Nason Award Recipients
- Trusteeship Article on 2015–16 Nason Award Recipients
Who may be nominated 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 nominate themselves for this award.
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 are the formatting requirements for the application?
Please include a cover page (with name and address of the board, as well as contact information for the board professional or contact) and a five-page maximum narrative (with the board name on each page) as a single document in submission. Beyond that, there are no specific requirements; we welcome each nominees own take on how they structure their narrative to address the aforementioned criteria and elements of interest.
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.
2020 – 2021
American University of Beirut
Colorado State University Foundation
Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University
University of Tennessee System
University of Vermont Foundation
2019 – 2020
Anne Arundel Community College
Arizona State University Enterprise Partners
Loyola Marymount University
Southern Oregon University
2018 – 2019
Kansas State University Foundation
St. John’s University
Youngstown State University
2017 – 2018
Agnes Scott College
California State University System
2016 – 2017
The College of William & Mary Foundation
The Ohio State University
2015 – 2016
Maricopa County Community College District
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Mitchell Hamline School of Law
University of North Georgia Foundation
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.