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 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.
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
- 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
Learn more about the award and how to apply.
The application window for the John. W. Nason Award for Board Leadership is now closed. Check back in Fall 2020 for information on 2020-2021 applications.
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.
Materials may be submitted via email to email@example.com or paper copies sent to:
Association of Governing Boards
John W. Nason Award
1133 20th Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC, 20036
The deadline for completed applications was November 1st, 2019. If interested in being notified when the next award cycle opens, please submit your email here:
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.
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.
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.