2021 National Conference on Trusteeship: Schedule

April 12-14, 2021 | Virtual Event


Monday, April 12

11:00 AM EDT | AGB Experience Open

AGB’s mission is to help boards govern with knowledge and confidence. Visit us in the AGB Experience to learn about all that is available to you by virtue of membership. Get to know the AGB staff members responsible for the publications, consulting services, online tools, and other member services you rely on, and find out what’s new and what’s coming next.

11:00 AM EDT – 11:45 AM EDT | Community Convenings

Learn the challenges and opportunities you share with peers from around the nation and the world. In the run-up to the formal opening of the conference, participants are encouraged to attend preliminary conversations as an opportunity to hone key questions, share new ideas, and discover essential communities. These sessions are offered in hopes that the connections they foster, and the thoughts they spark, will be instrumental throughout the conference and beyond.


  1. Undergraduate Colleges
  2. Regional Universities
  3. Multi-campus Systems
  4. Research Universities
  5. Community Colleges
  6. Special Focus Institutions (medical, art, graduate-only, etc.)
  7. HBCUs
  8. Catholic Colleges and Universities
  9. Institutionally Related Foundations
  10. LGBTQIA Members
  11. Student Trustees
  12. Presidents

12:00 PM EDT – 1:15 PM EDT | Trustee Essentials Workshops

These extended-time sessions are focused on topics of central importance to the roles of governing board members. Having been immersed in crisis response for a year or more, participate in these sessions to get refocused on fundamentals and first principles.

Strategic Finance: A Vehicle for Self-Determination

In today’s VUCA environment, governing boards and leaders need to be opportunistic in harnessing the tools available to them for plotting an advisable course. In this session, the facilitator will elucidate how traditional strategic finance might be adapted to ensure boards and leaders can avoid organizational vertigo following the disruptions of the pandemic. Come to this session to learn:

  • How might your institution’s financial benchmarks need to be adjusted?
  • How should projections change to account for the impact of the pandemic?
  • How can the board leverage strategic finance to avoid wishful thinking and undue pessimism alike?

Speakers to be announced

Fiduciary Duty: Timeless Advice for Hard Decisions

The first job of college or university board members is to be fiduciaries of their institutions—to hold colleges and universities in trust. A perennial favorite of conference participants, this session provides board members and those who work with them a solid grounding in fiduciary duty, in law and in practice. This year, the facilitator will give special attention to the practicalities of tough decisions and the board’s relationship to various constituencies and stakeholder groups.

Tom Hyatt, partner, Dentons; senior fellow and general counsel, AGB

Risk Oversight in a Post-COVID Environment

Following the example of corporate boards, many higher education boards implemented ERM systems in the 2010s. For most, those systems failed to prevent or seriously mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This is not to suggest these systems have been unhelpful on a net basis, but let’s face facts: Most institutions cannot afford another major black swan event in the coming years. In light of these hard realities, come to this session to examine how boards might best go about upgrading their risk oversight functions.

Speakers to be announced

Ensuring Educational Quality in a Decade of Change

Over the past 20 years, student learning and outcomes assessment have become routine administrative activities, yielding actionable data and analysis. Lay boards have traditionally shown some reluctance to ask deep questions about educational quality; but education is “the business of the business” for colleges and universities, and quality assurance is a core governing board responsibility. Changes now under way—in students, personnel, technology, finances, competition, and more—require that boards become more competent and confident in their oversight of educational quality. Come to this session for a quick start in this vital area.

George Kuh, regent emeritus, Luther College; chancellor’s professor emeritus of higher education, Indiana University

Principles of Trusteeship to Guide Your Service

Much has appropriately been made of the board’s collective responsibility, particularly since the board is only legally empowered to act as a collective. However, more guidance is also warranted to help individual board members render best service. AGB has spent much of the past year developing key “principles of trusteeship” precisely to this end. New and seasoned board members alike will benefit from this session as a venue for establishing fundamentals of good service following a year of crisis response.

Merrill Schwartz, senior vice president for content strategy, AGB

1:15 PM EDT – 2:00 PM EDT | Break

2:00 PM EDT – 3:30 PM EDT | Welcome Remarks and Opening Plenary: “Govern for Transformative Change”

How can boards set the table for transformative change? Come to this session to hear three storied examples of impact-driven innovation as shared by the college and university presidents who led the work; then, a panel of their board members will discuss the roles governing boards played—including key takeaways for others. Participants will engage directly with featured speakers throughout the session.

Henry Stoever, president and CEO, AGB

Michael Crow, president, Arizona State University
Fred DuVal, member, Arizona Board of Regents; member, AGB Board of Directors
Marybeth Gasman, trustee, Paul Quinn College and Morris Brown College; Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education and Distinguished Professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Education
Carrie Besnette Hauser, president, Colorado Mountain College
Chris Romer, chair, Colorado Mountain College Board of Trustees
Michael Sorrell, president, Paul Quinn College

3:30 PM EDT – 4:00 PM EDT | Break

4:00 PM EDT – 4:45 PM EDT | Concurrent Sessions

Board Building for Transformation

The board needed for value-added governance in the 2020s may be quite different than your current one. How can this generation of board leaders and presidents ensure the right talent, commitment, and vision are in place to guide transformative change over the next 8-10 years? Might this, too, be a part of your legacy? Come to this session to think freshly about which skills, experiences, and attitudes need to be cultivated for your board to add value going forward, and what this means for your work today.

Helen Drinan, president emerita, Simmons University; former chair, Simmons University Board of Trustees

Judith Block McLaughlin, educational chair, Harvard Seminar for New Presidents and Harvard Seminar for Experienced Presidents; former chair, Massachusetts Public Education Nominating Council
William E. Troutt, trustee, St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; president emeritus, Rhodes College
Devona Williams, chair, Delaware State University Board of Trustees; chair, Delaware State University Foundation Board of Trustees

Partnerships for New Paradigms

Have you ever wondered: Why are we doing this alone? Frequently considered solutions to business model stress include program building and program acquisition. But just as institutions cannot cut their way to success, most boards cannot bet the future on growth alone. Partnerships and consortia hold promise as the ride sharing apps of our sector. Come to this session for entrepreneurial thinking about how your institution might “split” expenses from key services going forward.

Speakers to be announced

Integrity in Institutional Advancement: What Trustees Should Know

If there was ever a time when the development committee was a cushy assignment, those days are long gone. Today, as a matter of course, governing boards and foundation boards must navigate complex gifts, issues of donor influence and transparency, and a clear imperative for ethical reporting. In the balance is both important financial support and, increasingly, institutional reputation. Attend this session for key insights behind the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s first global CASE Reporting Standards and Management , due out in spring of 2021.

Sue Cunningham, trustee, University of San Diego; president and chief executive officer, Council for Advancement and Support of Education
Matthew Eynon, vice president for college advancement, Franklin & Marshall College
Brian Hastings, president and chief executive officer, University of Nebraska Foundation

Losing Trust: Understanding and Responding to a New Generation of Student Activism

Americans losing trust in social institutions is not a new story, but some are detecting a new twist in that tale: beyond mere public skepticism, student activism and even antagonism is on the rise. The consequences for icy relations between students and their institutions are considerable. How might a student fall in and then out of love with their college or university so fast? More to the point, what are the outcomes the board should seek in these circumstances, and what is its role in achieving them? Come to this session to learn and discuss.

David Maxwellchair, Grinnell College Board of Trustees; president emeritus, Drake University; senior fellow, AGB

Panelists to be announced

Cyber Risk in a Hybrid World

Cyber risk is no longer an IT risk— it is a strategic enterprise risk, and as such it is a board responsibility. But while many institutions’ online services and processes will continue to rival or exceed those conducted on-site, few boards currently steward the digital plant comparably to the physical plant. Boards must grapple freshly with the need to understand and inform decisions affecting institutions’ digital infrastructure. This session will provide a framework for board-level attention with a risk management approach.

Speakers to be announced

4:45 PM EDT – 5:00 PM EDT | Break

5:00 PM EDT – 6:00 PM EDT | AGB 100th Anniversary Happy Hour

Tuesday, April 13

11:00 AM EDT | AGB Experience Open

AGB’s mission is to help boards govern with knowledge and confidence. Visit us in the AGB Experience to learn about all that is available to you by virtue of membership. Get to know the AGB staff members responsible for the publications, consulting services, online tools, and other member services you rely on, and find out what’s new and what’s coming next.

11:00 AM EDT – 12:00 PM EDT | Coffee Chats and Team Meetings

Catching up with old friends? Extending that AGB Experience conversation? Gathering your team on site at the conference? Now’s the perfect time!

Limited space is available for reservation at: registrar@AGB.org.

12:30 PM EDT – 1:30 PM EDT | Stories of Board Leadership: The 2021 AGB John W. Nason Award

Each year, AGB recognizes a few select members with its John W. Nason Award, honoring boards that go above and beyond what boards must do and take board-driven measures to advance their institutions in ways that truly matter. Come to this session to hear reflections and lessons learned by this year’s award recipients, and engage with them to discover what you can do to encourage effective, thoughtful, and courageous leadership by your board.

With thanks to TIAA:

TIAA Logo Sponsor

1:30 PM EDT – 1:45 PM EDT | Break

1:45 PM EDT – 2:30 PM EDT | Concurrent Sessions

Next-Gen Shared Governance

The challenges of COVID-19, unrest related to social justice, and broader economic uncertainties have at many institutions exposed fissures between some faculty and students, on the one hand, and governing boards and presidents, on the other. Some experts also predict greater turnover than anticipated in the presidency. This session will address how in these fraught times, boards can most effectively fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities for oversight, serve as a strategic advantage to their institutions, and work collaboratively with campus constituencies.

Mary K. Hughes, regent, University of Alaska System; trustee, University of Alaska Foundation; lifetime trustee, Willamette University; member, AGB Board of Directors
Meyer Koplow, chair, Brandeis University Board of Trustees
Susan Resneck Pierce, president emerita, University of Puget Sound

Closing with Grace

What can we do if institutional survival is no longer realistic? A growing number of boards and presidents have had to grapple with that question urgently, whereas prudent steps would have readied them to meet the moment with knowledge and confidence. This year’s virtual conference provides an unusual opportunity to attend a session on this topic with anonymity, ensuring that if your institution is faced with the prospect of closure, then someone has a sense for what should happen next. Learn how to support institutional leaders through this process, provide softer landings for students and employees alike, and even think differently about leaving a lasting institutional legacy.

Arthur E. Snyder, president emeritus, Indiana Institute of Technology

A Fresh Look at Federal Policy

With the 2020 election now in the rearview mirror, a new chapter in federal policymaking and its impacts on U.S. higher education is coming into focus. Come to this session to better understand the status of key legislative, judicial, executive, and regulatory action affecting higher education. Top policy experts from AGB and our partners will lead the conversation and answer your questions.

Speakers to be announced

Board Best Practices for Addressing Campus Racial Inequities

The roiling of communities around the U.S., sparked by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, has not spared campuses. Boards have been engaged in monitoring institutional responses, while also taking a hard look at their own agendas for opportunities to root out systemic bias. As the 2021 academic year comes to a close, what have boards learned from this experience, and how can, should, and must board focus change going forward to ensure equitable experiences for students, faculty, and staff?

Speakers to be announced

Shaping Extraordinary (Virtual) Student Experiences

Description and speakers to be announced

2:30 PM EDT – 3:00 PM EDT | Break

3:00 PM EDT – 4:00 PM EDT | Peer Exchanges

Peer exchanges are offered for small-group, peer-to-peer learning. Facilitators are selected for relevant expertise, but rather than presenting, they will frame and guide productive question-and knowledge-sharing among conference-goers. Come prepared to participate in a rare opportunity for cross-sector learning about specific issues.


  1. Getting Along to Go Along: Constructive Approaches to Difficult Decisions
  2. Board-Student Relations
  3. Board-Foundation Relations
  4. Board-Faculty Relations
  5. The Board’s Role in State Relations (Public Boards)
  6. Board Member Recruitment and Selection (Independent Boards)
  7. Raising Board Member Awareness about Higher Education
  8. Getting Executive Search Right (Public Boards)
  9. Getting Executive Search Right (Independent Boards)
  10. Strategic Planning in an Evolving Normal
  11. Board Approaches to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  12. Board Information-Seeking and Board Member Discipline (Public Boards)
  13. Board Information-Seeking and Board Member Discipline (Independent Boards)
  14. Student-Centered Decision-Making
  15. New Approaches to Career and Lifelong Learning
  16. So You’ve Got a New Program
  17. Board Oversight of Industry-Relevant Education
  18. Institution and Program Right-Sizing (Private Institutions)
  19. Institution and Program Right-Sizing (Public Institutions)
  20. Post-Pandemic Capital Campaigns
  21. Endowments: Adjusting Investment and Spending Policies
  22. Presidential Assessment and Development
  23. Board Assessment and Development
  24. Addressing Faculty, Staff, and Student Morale
  25. All Things Accreditation

4:00 PM EDT – 4:15 PM EDT | Break

4:15 PM EDT – 5:00 PM EDT | Concurrent Sessions

Rebooting Institution-Workforce Connectivity

Divisive rhetoric about the value of colleges and universities has been standard fare in recent years, but one thing on which many stakeholders can agree is a college education should be preparatory for career success. National polling tends to show substantial disagreement among trustees, employers, and academics about the readiness of today’s graduates for employment. Come to this session to learn and discuss what we know on a national level, and what higher education boards and leaders might do well to explore locally.

Beverly Seay, chair, University of Central Florida Board of Trustees; vice chair, AGB Board of Directors

Brandon Busteed, former trustee, Duke University; president of university partners and global head of learn-work innovation, Kaplan
Anthony Carnevale, director and research professor, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
Lynn Pasquerella, president, Association of American Colleges and Universities; former president, Mount Holyoke College

Reimagining Public Institution Business Models

In recent years, public colleges and universities have at turns experienced growth, reductions in force, mergers, multicampus system creation, and system dissolution. The one constant seems to be fundamental dissatisfaction with current business models. Fiscal austerity is threatening to narrow the options for many institutions and systems, and boards are now pressed to shape change rather than wait to be shaped by it. As we look ahead, come to this session to examine what constitutes worthy board-level opportunities to improve public institution business models.

Noah Brown, president, Association of Community College Trustees
Ellen Chaffee
, former trustee, Des Moines University; former president, Valley City State University and Mayville State University; AGB Senior Fellow

Reimagining Private Institution Business Models

For many private colleges and universities, reduced student revenues are today—and will increasingly be going forward—the single greatest threat to institutional vitality. The primary difficulty is quite simple, but the contributing factors and solutions required are multifaceted. How can boards ensure their institutions exit the current crisis with momentum, and in position to move swiftly on strategies to meet impending challenges on their own terms? Attend this session for a jump-start where others are currently stalled.

David Rowe, interim president, Lancaster Theological Seminary; former president, Centenary College of Louisiana

Reflections on Board Leadership Before and After COVID-19

For many, the old caricature of a board that listens to presentations, sips cocktails, and stays home until the next meeting no longer even hearkens to memory. The extraordinary challenges facing our sector in the 2020s are more likely to yield board overreach than passivity, and in the near term many are wrestling with whether, where, and how to refocus on oversight and strategy following a year of heightened board activity. Come to this session to hear from seasoned observers where those opportunities reside and how your board might take advantage.

Lynnette M. Heard, former executive director of board relations and secretary of the board, University of Cincinnati Foundation; council of board professionals ambassador, AGB

Terry MacTaggart, former chancellor, Minnesota State and University of Maine Systems; senior fellow, AGB
Richard Y. Uchida, trustee emeritus, Colby College; vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the college, Colby College
Nicole Washington, trustee, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Miami Dade College

How to Catch a Sexual Predator

Campuses can be magnets for bad actors, and the harm predators inflict upon our sector can be particularly destructive—especially when it involves sexual misconduct. Scandal after scandal has raised your concern, hoping your institution will not be next, but what’s a board to do? Boards are ultimately responsible for ensuring policies and practices shape safe environments for our institutions’ noble work. Today, that includes systems for prevention, detection, and response to predatory behavior. Come to this session to learn what such systems should include and how boards might assess their strength.

Brett A. Sokolow, chair and founder, TNG

Wednesday, April 14

11:00 AM EDT | AGB Experience Open

AGB’s mission is to help boards govern with knowledge and confidence. Visit us in the AGB Experience to learn about all that is available to you by virtue of membership. Get to know the AGB staff members responsible for the publications, consulting services, online tools, and other member services you rely on, and find out what’s new and what’s coming next.

11:00 AM EDT – 12:00 PM EDT | Coffee Chats and Team Meetings

Catching up with old friends? Extending that AGB Experience conversation? Gathering your team on site at the conference? Now’s the perfect time!

Limited space is available for reservation at: registrar@AGB.org.

12:30 PM EDT – 1:15 PM EDT | Conference Keynote: “Govern for Racial Equity: A Board Responsibility”

Most colleges and universities in the United States espouse commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Despite this, far too many fall short in effectively and sustainably addressing longstanding racial problems. Too few leaders, including those entrusted with governance, accept institutional responsibility for racial inequity in higher education. In this session, guidance will be offered on confronting racist institutional histories; repairing generations of racial harm and negligence; and addressing contemporary systems, cultures, policies, and practices that cyclically reproduce racial inequity on campuses. Emphasis will be placed on strategic actions that governing boards can employ.

Shaun Harper, provost professor and the Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership, University of Southern California; founder and executive director, University of Southern California Race and Equity Center; president, American Educational Research Association

1:15 PM EDT – 1:30 PM EDT | Break

1:30 PM EDT – 2:15 PM EDT | Concurrent Sessions

Remote Learning: Assessing and Upholding Educational Quality

Of all their duties, governing boards are often least confident about ensuring educational quality. Yet even those for which this work is a strength may have experienced fresh discomfort following a rapid shift to virtual learning in 2020. While many institutions will eventually scale back online learning, most colleges and universities will continue to offer more online learning than they did pre-pandemic. Participate in this session to learn more about what this “new normal” means for board oversight of educational quality.

Robert Waters, trustee, Eckerd College; vice president for experiential programming and partnerships, AGB

James E. Geringer, former Governor of Wyoming; co-founder and trustee, Western Governors University; senior fellow, AGB
Heather Perfetti, president, Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Katrina Rogers, president, Fielding Graduate University

Unity College: A Case Study in Reinvention

Higher education is due for disruptive change from the inside out. As institutions across the country consider their approaches to securing long-term sustainability, whether it be changes to modality, serving new audiences, a transition to new calendars, use of new technologies, assessing their legacy assets and beyond, it is helpful to consider what it looks like for a board and president to lead change of that scope.  Your board can become an asset to the fundamental reimagination of your institution. The board chair and president of Unity College are ready to share with you how they put this theory into practice with an intentional focus on accessibility, flexibility, and affordability. Learn how they have gone about reinventing their small college with differentiated, responsive, audience-first strategy, including governance lessons and pain points learned along the way.

Melik Khoury, president, Unity College
Sharon Reishus, chair, Unity College Board of Trustees

D-I Athletics: Insights and Advice for Boards

It seems like so long ago that conference movement and student-athlete rights topped the list of hot topics in D-I Athletics. Boards oversaw the reopening of college football as a top strategic priority last fall, and subsequently a pandemic-imbued season of basketball. What is the condition of D-I athletics, financially and reputationally, today? Come to this session for insights into where the field is going, what that means for students and institutional finances, and how boards should consider engaging this consequential area of university business.

Carol Cartwright, trustee, Heidelberg University; former co-chair, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics; president emerita, Bowling Green State University and Kent State University; senior fellow, AGB)

Panelists to be announced

D-II and D-III Athletics: Insights and Advice for Boards

Many colleges and universities rely on athletic programs to drive tuition revenue; and for most, these programs have long offered cocurricular vibrance for the price of major facilities investments. Following a year of subdued athletic activity, how should boards assess the state of their athletics enterprise, and how should they consider questions of strategy and resources going forward? Come to this session to discuss how boards might take stock of athletics as an institutional asset and think through what recovery might look like for—and with the help of—this often quintessential part of an institution.

Speakers to be announced

2:15 PM EDT – 2:30 PM EDT | Break

2:30 PM EDT – 3:15 PM EDT | Concurrent Sessions

Financial Accountability: Creating a New Normal

Boards are often an institution’s most ardent advocates, which makes it hard to see—or accept—when an institution is approaching the edge or has even stepped over it. Which warning signals are boards most likely to miss or ignore, and how can they protect against a natural proclivity for hopeful thinking? Data-based stress-testing, rigorous monitoring, and real board accountability are not optional in this environment. Come to this session to learn what that looks like in practice in 2021.

Speakers to be announced

Oh, the Humanity! Mission Management in Large Universities

Research institutions have a mission to serve the public good by advancing knowledge—often seeding innovation and economic development, and also by producing ethical and competent doctors, lawyers, educators, social workers, engineers, public policy experts, and other professionals. With prominent institutions embarking on graduate admissions pauses and program cuts in the humanities and social sciences, what does the board need to know about the prospect of continued institutional austerity in these areas? Come to this session to think through that question alongside national experts.

Shauna Ryder Diggs, former regent, University of Michigan; chair, AGB Board of Directors

Andrew Delbanco, president, Teagle Foundation; Alexander Hamilton professor of American studies, Columbia University
Thomas J. Hollister, vice president for finance and chief financial officer, Harvard University; trustee emeritus and former chair, Wheaton College Board of Trustees
Paula Krebs, executive director, Modern Language Association

Next-Gen Philanthropy

The greatest intergenerational transfer of wealth in the history of the world is under way, and a new generation of philanthropists is rising, with unique values and interests. These realities set the scene for yet another dynamic shift in higher education over the coming decade. Join this session to gain insights on how your board can ensure sound planning for these changes—how your fundraising will need to change, how this disruption could affect your bottom line, and where new opportunities may reside.

Speakers to be announced

Multi-Generational Board Governance

Governing boards are multi-generational, dominated by Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers, but with some Silents and Millennials. Each board member brings to the task unique generational values, strengths, and shortcomings.  So it’s imperative that boards learn and leverage Generational Strategies to maximize effectiveness. Additionally, given accelerated retirements in senior management positions, it is essential that boards understand generational differences in their institutions’ leaders. Generational Study is now a formal discipline. You will learn – from an original founder of this discipline – successful execution of Generational Strategies (1) within boards and (2) throughout colleges and universities.

Chuck Underwood, founder and principal, The Generational Imperative

3:15 PM EDT – 3:30 PM EDT | Break

3:30 PM EDT – 4:30 PM EDT | Closing Plenary Session: “Understand the Turbulent 2020s: A Business Outlook for Higher Education”

How should expectations for the 2020s be adjusted at this stage, and what does that mean for how boards and leaders might develop strategic paths forward? Forecasters were predicting lean times for our sector well before the global pandemic, stock market volatility, and racial justice issues that have distinguished the American experience over the past year. The hazards many expected to characterize the coming decade are now more numerous, larger, and closer at hand. Come to this session for fresh insights on what’s coming and what you and your board can do to prepare.

Moderator to be announced

Kevin Carey, vice president for education policy and knowledge management, New America
Carol T. Christ, chancellor, University of California Berkeley; president emerita, Smith College; former trustee, Dominican University of California and Sarah Lawrence College
David H. Feldman, professor of economics and public policy, William & Mary

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“AGB is the receptacle for best practices whether you are hiring a new president, getting your cost structures under control, getting a strategic planning process in place to net you the outcomes you need, or determining how you’re going to respond to the challenges and disruptors facing higher education today.”

Katherine Johnson Becklin

Regent, Luther College



AGB is committed to excellence in member service. Should you have questions about registering for the National Conference on Trusteeship, contact the AGB registrar.

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All other inquiries may be directed to the AGB concierge.