What post-pandemic higher education will look like was the thread running through discussions that took place during the December 15 meeting of AGB’s Council of Presidents. The pedagogy will almost certainly be different but how, exactly? How much education will be virtual? How much face to face? Will academic programs be revised and if so, how significantly? How will program changes impact faculty? What will a new pedagogy mean to higher education now and in the future?
And what about the business model and all of the aspects that entails? What challenges—and opportunities—will the spring 2021 semester present? Or the 2021-2022 academic year?
One point that resonated with participants was “the sense of campus” that students are seeking, whether they are residents on campus or commuters. There is greater optimism around student interest in a post-pandemic in person college experience. How will residential colleges and universities reshape themselves, or will they?
Much remains unknown. For example, when will the COVID-19 vaccine be available and how quickly will its impact be felt? What will the “new normal” of higher education look and feel like once we have worked our way through this crisis?
An important point to bear in mind is that as presidents, boards, faculty, and students grapple with the challenges that the pandemic has heaped upon higher education, shared governance practices have become more important than ever. But remember: Shared governance is about more than who is responsible for what. It is about achieving a commonly supported mission. A significant component of achieving the mission, now and post-pandemic, will be placing a new emphasis on justice, equity, and inclusion—on creating communities in which every individual is valued, is treated with dignity and respect, and is provided an opportunity for full participation and success. Our higher education institutions must mount a concerted effort to ensure that the principles of justice, equity, and inclusion are interwoven throughout our governance, our academic programs, and our communities.
AGB’s recently launched Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative is designed to support and assist higher education’s efforts to foster JDE&I.
The meeting also included discussion of how participants are coping with the sustained demands on leadership and how boards might best support the “self-care” of presidents in the months to come.
The AGB Council of Presidents will meet again next quarter and AGB will have the opportunity to delve further into these topics during our upcoming Foundation Leadership Forum (January 25-27, 2021), Board Professionals Conference (April 6-8, 2021), and National Conference on Trusteeship (April 12-14, 2021).
- The AGB Board of Directors’ Statement on Shared Governance
- A survey report: Shared Governance: Is Okay Good Enough?
- An essential book on this subject by Augustana College President Steve Bahls, Shared Governance in Times of Change: A Practical Guide for Universities and Colleges (now a free download for all members)
AGB thanks our partner AIG for its support of the Council of Presidents.