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:
- Take time to reflect both on your personal experience (including the Principles of Trusteeship) and whether your board has made progress on its strategic goals.
- Read David Moore’s recent article in Trusteeship on developing a personalized development plan that offers strategies for self-reflection.
For board and committee chairs:
- Schedule time to discuss group goals for the next one to three years, as well as action plans to address these outcomes.
- Schedule time to plan a board assessment, and potentially committee and individual board member assessments.
- Review this complimentary step-by-step guide to shape your next board assessment.
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.
- On June 17, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is hosting a summer roundtable on “Strengthening an Institutional Culture of Quality Assurance,” and will include two AGB consultants as panelists.
- On June 18, the Transformational Partnerships Fund is hosting a webinar describing how some institutions faced with resistance to significant, even transformational, change such as mergers, asset sales, and discontinuing programs, have leveraged the state attorney general’s office as a strategic ally in their institution’s transformation.