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.


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

Congratulations to the 2024 award recipients.

Learn more about the award recipients in the press release.

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
AGB Governance Briefings: Institutionally Related Foundations
Distinct contributions to strengthening governance and trusteeship
Unusual courage in the face of difficult circumstances
Significant achievement that benefits the institution, system, or foundation

Learn about 2022-2023 Nason Award Recipient Colorado Mountain College

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.

Submission Process and Deadline

Submission Process

Materials may be submitted via email to


Applications for 2023-2024 are now closed.

Eligibility and Selection

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.

Selection Process
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.

Award Details

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:

Frequently Asked Questions

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 as a single document in submission:

  • A cover page with name and address of the board, as well as contact information for the submission contact, the board professional (if not the same person), and the chief executive.
  • A five-page-maximum narrative, with the board name on each page.

Beyond that, there are no specific requirements; we welcome each nominee’s 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.

Current & Past Recipients

2023 – 2024

Babson College
Oakton College Educational Foundation
Saint Peter’s University
University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire Foundation

2022 – 2023

Colorado Mountain College
Holyoke Community College Foundation
Texas Christian University
Utah State University Foundation
Xavier University of Louisiana

2021 – 2022

Adler University
Community College of Rhode Island Foundation
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education
Southern California University of Health Sciences
The University of Memphis
Virginia Commonwealth University

2020 – 2021

American University of Beirut
Colorado State University Foundation
Diné College
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
McDaniel College
Parker University
Southern Oregon University

2018 – 2019

Furman University
Haverford College
Kansas State University Foundation
St. John’s University
Miami University
Youngstown State University

2017 – 2018

Agnes Scott College
Augsburg University
California State University System
Ohio University
Unity College

2016 – 2017

Beacon College
CETYS University
The College of William & Mary Foundation
The Ohio State University
Whittier College

2015 – 2016

Chatham University
Maricopa County Community College District
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Randolph College
University of North Georgia Foundation

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.