In his September update to members, AGB President and Chief Executive Officer Henry Stoever mentioned that AGB is committed to supporting boards as indispensable strategic partners in advancing student success and institutional vitality. To achieve these goals, board members must be appropriately engaged in a host of decisions and policies that govern institutional operations, especially when it comes to the process of accreditation. All of the regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education have particular standards for the governance of the institutions they accredit. On occasion, AGB has been asked why that is the case. Why should accrediting agencies even have governance standards?
Upholding accrediting standards for boards is fundamental to ensuring that colleges and universities can be successful in carrying out their missions. It isn’t that establishing good board governance immediately results in stellar institutional performance. Rather, without good board governance it is almost impossible to achieve superlative results. Since the aim of accreditation is to reaffirm that institutions are fulfilling their responsibilities to students and stakeholders, it is imperative that accreditors have standards that hold boards accountable for those responsibilities.
Discussing this issue is timely because the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), the key advisor to the Department of Education on issues related to accrediting agencies and accreditation, recently established a subcommittee to examine accreditor standards for board governance. For many years AGB has remained a stalwart proponent of governance standards, and so we felt compelled to offer our guidance and testimony to the subcommittee to articulate our position. The letter is available on AGB’s website and we encourage AGB members to read it. Readers may also be interested in our responses to the call for comment from the Department of Education regarding accreditation changes. All AGB letters can be found on our website here.