The Guardians Initiative: Advocacy Resources and Examples

By June 4, 2019 Blog Post

In 2017, AGB introduced The Guardians Initiative, an effort to engage college and university board members as advocates for the enduring societal value of higher education. Since its inception, presidents and trustees across the country have heard the call and communicated that value to thought leaders, policymakers, and the public.

AGB knows that advocacy can be challenging. Board members are busy performing their other fiduciary responsibilities. Other challenges can dominate committee meetings, and it feels as though the news cycle moves faster every month. The Guardians Initiative aims to assist boards by providing information and ideas to make your institution’s trustee advocacy as simple and effective as possible.

As part of that goal, here are some examples of good advocacy and effective resources that other AGB members are exploring and implementing.

  • Op-Eds—As high-profile members of the community, board members can often influence the discussion through the use of op-eds. And while national outlets have a broad reach, regional outlets are oftentimes a more trusted voice. Institutional communication offices often have contacts to the regional or local paper that are worth exploring. See some excellent examples in the Chicago Tribune, Cincinnati Enquirer, South Carolina State, Superior Telegram, or the Oklahoman.
  • Social Media and Advocacy Campaigns—Many institutions are meeting people where they are, engaging in social media campaigns and using information from the Guardians Initiative as part of those plans. On Twitter, for example, the University System of Maryland (@Univ_System_MD) and the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (@MSPublicUniv) are connecting with students, parents, lawmakers, and press, taking advantage of our @AGBGuardians infographics, talking points, and toolkit.
  • Guardians Briefs and Research—AGB is producing an ongoing series of focused publications that explain some of the most fundamental, and most misunderstood, issues in higher education. Thousands of trustees have downloaded the briefs to gain a better understanding of the higher education landscape today. The latest brief on the value of university endowments is available for download here!
  • The Trustee Index—This AGB survey, conducted in collaboration with Gallup, examines trustee opinions from across the nation about the value proposition for higher education and what they see as the major issues on the horizon. Now in its second year, the 2018 Index points to an important issue: that board members recognize that the public has a negative view of higher ed, but that few trustees engage in advocacy.
  • Trusteeship Radio—AGB’s signature podcast allows board members to hear about the latest issues straight to your ears. Trustees like Sandy Baum of Bryn Mawr College are leading the conversation on important topics like the higher education business model. Download the podcast from our website or subscribe through Apple Podcast, Google Play, or Stitcher.

We’re always available to answer questions or help your board establish good advocacy. Reach out to us at guardians@agb.org.