AGB President & CEO Update: Colleges and Universities Cannot Be Better Than Their Boards

By Henry Stoever June 3, 2021 Blog Post

As we recognize the end of the academic year, many boards and leaders are deep in preparation for the fall and for the years that follow. They are considering what they have learned from the pandemic and how that will influence their institution’s strategic priorities. For example, even as many board members, administrators, faculty, and students are eager to get back to working, teaching, and learning in person, others have found value in the strategic use of virtual engagement.

Higher education is at an important inflection point. In reviewing the past year, I encourage you to consider not only your institution’s opportunities and challenges, but also the performance of your board. Summer is an ideal time to initiate an assessment to evaluate the performance of your board and individual trustees.

Board assessments provide the chance to think about progress in a holistic fashion and to discuss goals and key milestones. We at AGB strongly encourage boards, presidents, and leadership teams to discuss progress toward key outcomes that your institution has established, and what issues require additional discussion.

In undertaking a meaningful assessment, boards and presidents may reflect upon what they have learned about student success that will benefit students going forward. They may also consider how effective their crisis leadership strategy has been in the context of COVID-19, social unrest, and concerns around free speech and inclusivity. I specifically encourage you to consider how effective the board has been in elevating justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the campus community.

We at AGB also believe it is imperative that board members consider their own individual progress. AGB’s Principles of Trusteeship offers insights into the attributes and characteristics that define exemplary board service, and this resource will assist board members in sharpening their effectiveness in the boardroom.

As you reflect on your individual and collective effectiveness, AGB offers several additional suggestions for board members and institutional leaders to consider:

For board members:

For board and committee chairs:

For presidents and leadership teams:

  • Consider how to support development of board members’ engagement and effectiveness.
  • Use this complimentary guide to discuss your onboarding process for new board members, as well as continuing education opportunities with board members to align needs and expectations.

In addition to AGB’s offerings, other organizations are holding events to educate and prepare board members to oversee academic excellence and innovation.