2024 National Conference on Trusteeship: Schedule

March 26–28, 2024
Hilton Boston Park Plaza
Boston, MA


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Tuesday, March 26

AGB members are invited to join us before the conference begins for the AGB Endowment Governance Workshop, held onsite at the Hilton Boston Park Plaza Hotel from 9:30 AM –1:15PM ET. Separate registration is required for this complimentary event.

7:00 AM – 5:30 PM ET | Registration

7:00 AM – 5:30 PM ET | AGB Experience

1:30 – 4:30 PM ET | Pre-Conference Workshops (complimentary)

AGB Strategy Summit 2024
It is time to do strategy differently. The higher ed industry is disrupted: criticism and concern about the value proposition of a college education are increasing and the traditional business model is unable to generate the sustainable pathway to institutional prosperity it once did. Many boards, presidents, and leadership teams are struggling to keep up and identify the right strategic initiatives and solutions to these problems. What needs to change about the way your board thinks and operates if it is to enable and empower transformational change for the institution itself? The AGB Strategy Summit will elevate the important synergies between trustees who think strategically, the necessity for boards to engage in strategic governance, and the successful identification and implementation of institutional strategies. Using case studies, featured guests who’ve led successful innovative, transformative change efforts will join AGB experts to help equip trustees and presidents to identify key strategies rapidly, engage stakeholders effectively, and respond to new challenges nimbly. Stop adopting yesterday’s plans and start authoring tomorrow’s strategies.

JuliAnn Mazachek
, president, Washburn University
John Dietrick, vice chair, Washburn University Board of Regents
Paul N. Friga, former trustee, Saint Francis University; public higher education practice area leader, AGB Consulting
Sr. Christine De Vinne, president, Ursuline College

Community Convening: Public Multi-Campus System Boards and Leaders
AGB and the National Association of Higher Education Systems (NASH) invite you to gather prior to the start of the conference and:

  • Connect with peers
  • Consider—and inform—forward-looking assessments of opportunities and challenges unique to multi-campus system governance
  • Share interests and concerns directly with AGB and NASH leaders

Wednesday, March 27

7:30 AM – 5:30 PM ET | Registration

7:30 AM – 5:30 PM ET | AGB Experience

8:30 – 9:30 AM ET | Welcome and Opening Keynote: The Changing Landscape for Higher Education Board Governance

This moment, for many boards, requires a cogent level-setting on strategic challenges and opportunities facing higher education, and who better to survey this landscape than a leader whose renown stretches across multiple generations? Under the leadership of Freeman A. Hrabowski III from 1992 until his retirement in 2022, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, rose to national preeminence in the quality of undergraduate teaching, earned an extraordinary reputation for innovation, and established itself as a standard-bearer for what can be accomplished when higher education sets out to change lives. With the benefit of experiential wisdom, this session will address what lies ahead and how boards can, should, and must shape the future.

Beverly Seay
, chair, AGB Board of Directors; immediate past chair, University of Central Florida Board of Trustees
Ellen Chaffee, interim president and CEO, AGB; former trustee, Des Moines University; former president, Valley City State University and Mayville State University

Keynote Speaker:
Freeman A. Hrabowski III
, president emeritus, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; author, The Resilient University: How Purpose and Inclusion Drive Student Success

9:50 – 10:45 AM ET | Concurrent Sessions I

Shared Governance for Agile Institutions

The most fundamental test of leadership is whether anyone follows. Never simple, higher education’s unique decision-making paradigm of shared governance often leaves boards befuddled, frustrated, and concerned about their institutions’ decisiveness and direction. In this session, participants will gain key insights into how the board can strategically account for constituent voices and enable effective leadership.

Steven C. Bahls
, trustee, University of Montana Foundation; vice chair, Capital University; former president, Augustana College; author, Shared Governance for Agile Institutions: A Practical Guide for Universities and Colleges

The Changing Presidency

For a prior generation of governing boards, hiring the right president may simply have been the most important responsibility of the board. Today, hiring, empowering, supporting, assessing, and developing the president are more apt. The role has never been more important, but the job has changed fundamentally. The board cannot execute its most important set of responsibilities without understanding this context. This session will provide an essential level-setting.

Marjorie Hass, president, Council of Independent Colleges; trustee, Brandeis University; former president, Rhodes College and Austin College; author, A Leadership Guide for Women in Higher Education
Kevin Reilly, president emeritus, University of Wisconsin System; senior fellow, AGB

Catholic Universities and Their Changing Governance Structures

Long-standing governance arrangements that connected Catholic universities to the church and protected their faith-based cultures and social commitments are being replaced. Founding congregations are ceding their reserve powers to the board, to local bishops, to international religious bodies, to a newly created replacement entity known as public juridic persons (PJP), or even releasing the institutions fully from church control. Participants in this session will gain awareness of the range and distribution of newly adopted governance structures, and early evidence of their advantages or challenges.

Dennis Holtschneider
, president, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; former chair, Niagara University Board of Trustees; president emeritus, DePaul University

Optimizing Revenue in Higher Education—Taking Your Strategic Planning Process to the Next Level

Smart university leaders are thinking differently about what it means to be “sustainable” today. By aligning your enrollment and academic goals with your fundraising priorities, you can open up compelling and modern “investment” opportunities for your supporters that will benefit the university for years to come.

During this session, enrollment and advancement leaders will share how to align academic planning, strategic enrollment planning, financial aid budgeting, and fundraising to better engage today’s savvy donor investors. They will address student debt load, value proposition for higher ed, and other challenges to donor engagement. Attendees will leave with clear ideas for how to optimize the revenue streams on their campuses to ensure all efforts are driving toward long-term sustainability.

Greta Daniels
, senior vice president, RNL
Alison Morrison-Shetlar, president, University of Lynchburg

Assessing Student Learning: Supporting Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement

A longstanding AGB mantra maintains that student learning is “the business of the business.” Assessment of student learning, therefore, is of critical importance to all institutions, public and private. Yet many trustees remain uncertain about the board’s role in ensuring quality and learning in the educational enterprise. In this session, learn about accreditor expectations regarding the dual purposes of quality assurance and continuous improvement, research-based best practices for assessing student learning and fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, and the role that board members can play in supporting these efforts.

Laura M. Gambino
, vice president, New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

Lisa Ijiri
, NECHE commissioner; senior advisor and clinical professor of higher education leadership, Boston University
Bob Awkward, assistant commissioner for academic effectiveness, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
Mark Nicholas, assistant vice president for strategic planning, assessment & accreditation, Framingham State University
Jeff Van Dreason, dean of institutional assessment, Roxbury Community College

Athletics Transformation and the Role of Trustees

Athletics is at once a mission center, a revenue driver, and the resident location of immense regulatory and reputational risk. Come to this session for an up-to-the-minute overview of:

  • Emergent challenges to long-standing principles underlying college athletics
  • Practical perspectives on where the field is headed, at multiple levels of competition
  • A reset on the board’s role in strategic oversight of athletics

Carol A. Cartwright
, president emeritus, Kent State University and Bowling Green State University; trustee, Heidelberg University; senior fellow, AGB
Judy Olian, president, Quinnipiac University member, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics
Peter P. Roby, former athletic director, Northeastern University; senior consultant, NCAA; member, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics
Jonathan R. Alger, president, James Madison University; chair, AGB Council of Presidents

How Boards and Presidents Are Advancing Student Success

Boards and presidents aligned on equitable student success goals can simultaneously advance their institutional missions and enhance financial vitality. Learn about key tools, data, and best practices to accomplish this essential work from leaders of three institutions immersed in an AGB and Gardner Institute-facilitated, and Ascendium Education Philanthropies-supported, effort with national importance.

Merrill Schwartz
, senior fellow, AGB

Kemal Atkins
, adjunct associate professor of educational leadership, Delaware State University; senior consultant, AGB
Andrew Koch, chief executive officer, Gardner Institute
Judith A. Marlowe, chair, Thomas More University Board of Trustees
Brien Lewis, president, Transylvania University
Raymond Burse, trustee, University of Louisville

Human Resources Strategy for Boards

Forward-looking boards need to ensure human resources strategies, not just fiscal strategies, properly support the institution’s direction. Years ago, this might have been provocative; today, it is fundamental. Come to this session to learn how boards should be thinking about effective value propositions for higher education employees and what every board should know about higher education workforce dynamics.

Anne Ollen
, managing director, TIAA Institute
Lynn Wooten, president, Simmons University

11:05 AM – 12:00 PM ET | Concurrent Sessions II

Getting Your Arms around Student Mental Health

While the mental health crisis extends well beyond higher education, the student mental health crisis poses a particular hazard to institutional performance and reputation. What are the ethical and business imperatives around which boards and senior leaders must develop plans and deploy resources? How might boards assess the effectiveness of student mental health strategies today, and what should all trustees know in the context of escalating costs and financial constraints? Come to this session to get grounded on an indispensable topic.

Kevin Kruger
, president, NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education; member, AGB Council for Student Success

Stepping Down, Stepping Back, Stepping Away … Stepping Up? Leading Board Practices for Facilitating Presidential Transition

This session will feature research‐based insights about what boards should know about why and how presidents, deans, and provosts return to the faculty, as well as which steps boards can take to ensure anyone departing a senior executive post might remain an essential asset to the institution. Participants in this session will:

  • Discover how former presidents, deans, and provosts can add value to their institutions in ways that leverage their unique qualifications and abilities
  • Learn to decode the written and unwritten rules of supporting individual leaders and institutions during and after a period of administrative transition
  • Become familiar with alternative strategies for leadership longevity in the context of shorter average terms in office

Lisa Jasinski
, president, Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM); author, Stepping Away: Returning to the Faculty After Senior Academic Leadership
Leo M. Lambert, president emeritus and professor, Elon University; former member, AGB Board of Directors
E. Thomas Sullivan, past president, University of Vermont; member, AGB Board of Directors
Shauna Ryder Diggs, regent emerita, University of Michigan Board of Regents; secretary, AGB Board of Directors

Evolving Board Roles and Structures to Meet the Moment

From refreshing board officer roles and reimagining attendant duties and tasks to restructuring committees and revising charters, many boards are rightly and understandably grappling with a sense that they are not best organized for the work that needs doing. Come to this session for seasoned advice on meaningful objectives and how to get where you need to go.

Jill Derby
, chair, American University of Iraq Sulaimani Board of Trustees; past chair, Nevada Board of Regents; senior fellow, AGB; ambassador, AGB Council of Board Chairs
David Maxwell, trustee and past chair, Grinnell College; president emeritus, Drake University; senior fellow and senior consultant, AGB

Avoiding a Failed Presidency

Let’s face facts: too many higher education presidencies fail. This panel will first identify the reasons many presidents are serving ever-shorter terms and will then discuss actions that boards can take to foster successful presidencies, particularly when boards have charged their new president with bringing about significant changes. Such actions begin with the search, extend to the presidential transition, and are grounded in the ongoing board-president relationship.

Susan Resneck Pierce
, president emerita, University of Puget Sound; author, Governance Reconsidered: How Boards, Presidents, Administrators, and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive
Vincent D. Rougeau, president, College of the Holy Cross
Helen W. Boucher, chair, College of the Holy Cross Board of Trustees; dean, Tufts University School of Medicine
Daniel Greenstein, chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; trustee, Excelsior University
Cynthia Shapira, chair, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors; vice chair, Brandeis University Board of Trustees; member, AGB Board of Directors

Growing Revenue with Market-Responsive Majors: Case Studies One Year Later

Last year at this conference, Rize Education and Adrian College presented a model that is helping over 85 campuses offer market-responsive majors that grow enrollment without significant upfront investment. Through an innovative collaborative model, these colleges are more quickly and affordably offering degrees in fields such as cybersecurity, digital marketing, and data analytics.

One year later, Rize will share practical case studies of successful innovation in academics and enrollment that could inspire and inform change on all campuses. Beyond sharing how Rize partners are modernizing their campuses, the session will explore the core elements of structural change all institutions must consider to remain nimble and viable.

Jeff Docking
, president, Adrian College
Kenneth Elmore, president, Dean College
Charlie Anastasi, vice president of partnerships, Rize Education

Best Practices in Preparing for Board Meetings

Board preparation is absolutely indispensable, but it’s not necessarily as intuitive or basic as one might think. Come to this session to better understand how seasoned board leaders and professional staff define good preparation, and gain strategies, tips, and hacks to elevate the value you add.

Tom Hyatt
, trustee, Roosevelt University; senior fellow, AGB

Jonathan R. Alger
, president, James Madison University; chair, AGB Council of Presidents
Jeffery S. Perry, board chair, Babson College Board of Trustees; member, AGB Council of Board Chairs
Lynnette M. Heard, trustee emerita, University of Cincinnati Foundation; former executive director of board relations and secretary of the board, University of Cincinnati Foundation; senior fellow, AGB

Leading Change in Public Multicampus Systems

Experienced leaders will help session participants:

  • Understand the important prework system boards must perform to assess their readiness to help identify and lead transformative strategic change
  • Assess where their board resides within a broader typology of system boards, with a focus on its structural capacity for leading change
  • Identify common board strengths and weaknesses that create propensities for effective or ineffective change leadership
  • Learn how to develop action plans to address high-priority gaps in board readiness
  • Reflect on what to do if a board readiness gap cannot be closed

Barbara Brittingham
, former president, New England Council on Higher Education (NECHE); trustee, Wheaton College (Massachusetts) and American University of Kurdistan; author, Assessing Readiness to Lead Change in Public Higher Education Systems
James H. Page, former chancellor, University of Maine System; author, Assessing Readiness to Lead Change in Public Higher Education Systems

How to Protect and Build an Institution’s Reputation during M&A

In a rapidly consolidating higher education landscape, what opportunities do mergers and acquisitions create for financially successful institutions? And how can you change the dynamic of the deal such that the outcome is less about winners and losers and is more about an effective partnership, even when an institution has to close. In this session, we’ll discuss:

  • Establishing evaluation criteria well in advance of identifying potential acquisition opportunities
  • Building a memorandum of understanding that keeps mission and values aligned
  • Protecting the acquiring institution’s reputation from criticism around the deal itself, potential job loss, student displacement, and loss of institutional identity

Simon Barker
, managing partner, Blue Moon Consulting Group
Helen Drinan, interim president, Cabrini University

12:00 – 1:30 PM ET | Luncheon Plenary: Discerning the Role of Tech Game-Changers for Higher Education

The proliferation of ChatGPT over the past year has left many higher education boards and executives with more questions than answers. Yet, artificial intelligence (AI) is not the first tech game-changer to impact our field, and it won’t be the last. In this session, higher education futurist and innovation guru Jeffrey Selingo will lead a conversation with an eclectic, one-of-a-kind panel to help elucidate:

  • The effect AI is already having, and is expected to have, on key operations and outcomes of colleges and universities
  • What boards and leaders should learn from past tech-based disruption, and how they can position institutions advantageously in emerging technological environments
  • Which tech developments hold relevance for higher education and its leaders

Note: Lunch will be available immediately following the preceding block of sessions, and the plenary panel will begin at 12:30 PM ET.

Jeffrey Selingo
, trustee, Ithaca College; special assistant to the president, Arizona State University; author, College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students

Charles L. Isbell Jr.
, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Beverly Seay, chair, AGB Board of Directors; trustee emerita and former board chair, University of Central Florida Board of Trustees
Ben Armstrong, executive director, MIT’s Industrial Performance Center; co-lead, MIT Work of the Future Initiative

1:30 – 1:45 PM ET | Recognizing Recipients of the AGB John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership

Each year, AGB recognizes a handful of governing boards for exemplary leadership with the John W. Nason Award. Their stories are, by definition, inspirational and instructive. In this session, you will hear directly from key leaders in those boardrooms about the way they and their boards went about the work that is being recognized. Session takeaways feature relatable insights about governing for impact and achievement.

Read the press release: Four Higher Education Governing Boards Receive the AGB 2024 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership

1:45 – 2:30 PM ET | Dessert and Networking

Enjoy a sweet treat and a dedicated opportunity to connect or reconnect with peers, colleagues, and national experts gathered at the conference.

2:30 – 3:45 PM ET | Private Meeting of Presidents and Chancellors with AGB Leadership

All presidents and chancellors in attendance are invited to a session with AGB leaders to discuss current issues facing higher education leaders.

2:45 – 3:45 PM ET | Trustee Peer Roundtables

AGB has a strong commitment to peer learning. These role- and issue-specific roundtable sessions are designed as facilitated discussions for the exchange of insights and leading practices among peers.


  1. Governance Committee (Public)
  2. Governance Committee (Independent)
  3. Finance Committee (Public)
  4. Finance Committee (Independent)
  5. Academic Affairs Committee (Public)
  6. Academic Affairs Committee (Independent)
  7. Student Affairs Committee (Public)
  8. Student Affairs Committee (Independent)
  9. Institutionally Related Foundations (Public)
  10. Philanthropy/Advancement and/or Campaign Committee (All)
  11. Investment Committee (All)
  12. Buildings and Grounds (Public)
  13. Buildings and Grounds (Independent)
  14. Search Committee (Public)
  15. Search Committee (Independent)
  16. Committee Restructuring (Public)
  17. Committee Restructuring (Independent)
  18. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee/Task Force (All)
  19. Audit/Risk/Compliance Committee (All)
  20. Student Trustees and Representatives (All)
  21. Faculty/Staff Trustees and Representatives (All)
  22. Women Board Leaders—and Aspiring Leaders (All)
  23. Predominantly White Institution Board Members of Color (All)
  24. Board Members under Age 45 (All)
  25. Mission Committee (Independent)
  26. Board and Committee Vice Chairs (All)
  27. HBCU Trustees (All)
  28. Board Professionals—Board and Committee Staff (All)
  29. Community College Trustees
  30. Multi-Campus System Trustees

4:05 – 5:00 PM ET | Concurrent Sessions III

Presidential Assessment and Development

The relationship between board chairs, board members, and presidents is a leadership compact. Boards must engage presidents in designing assessments and leadership development programs to improve that relationship and lift the performance of presidents and their teams. Come to this session to understand the spectrum of tools for presidential assessment and development and inform practical, value-added improvements to your existing approach.

Mark Heckler
, president emeritus, Valparaiso University; trustee, Elizabethtown College
Terrence MacTaggart, former chancellor, University of Maine System and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; senior fellow, AGB; author, Assessing and Developing College and University Presidents

Managing Culture, Change, and Risks When Executing Merger, Affiliation, and Partnership (MAP) Strategies

Higher education governing boards and leadership teams should proactively develop merger, affiliation, and partnership (MAP) strategies. As part of the strategy development process, boards and campus leaders must understand and plan for the cultural, risk, timeline, and other change related aspects that accompany MAP strategy execution. All too often, potential partnerships and deals break down due to lack of awareness of the various obstacles and challenges that can interfere with implementation. This session will highlight key insights and advice from experts in the field and serve as an on-ramp to a later MAP session that will highlight several success stories from the MAP space.

Paul Friga
, practice area leader for strategic transformation of higher education and senior consultant, AGB Consulting

Ali Malekzadeh
, president, Roosevelt University

Empowering Higher Education: Navigating the Digital Frontier

This session will begin by unpacking what digital transformation is, how to understand its expected impact on your campus, and how boards should position their institutions for success accordingly. Expert speakers will help you connect the dots between changing student populations, the current digital landscape, and the benefits and challenges of digital transformation you may confront at your institution.

Amy J. Hilbelink
, campus president, Pittsburgh Online/South College; senior consultant, AGB
Cynthia Golden, senior advisor to the University of Pittsburgh University Center for Teaching and Learning
Heather Tillberg-Webb, associate vice president of academic technology, Southern New Hampshire University

Leading a Conflicted Board

Intransigence, public disunity, differing views sliding toward personal conflict … What does a leader do when it’s not just a difficult board member stirring the pot but a schism affecting the board? Come to this session to learn from colleagues with first-hand experience in how to manage board conflict.

Ellen Chaffee
, interim president and CEO, AGB; former trustee, Des Moines University; former president, Valley City State University and Mayville State University
Richard D. Legon, former trustee, Spelman College and University of Charleston; former member, Virginia State University Board of Visitors; former president, AGB

Evolutions in Executive Search in Higher Education

Today’s executive search services have been reshaped by a wide array of challenges requiring astute and visionary leadership—with board confidence. A review of fundamental strategies and major components of executive search processes now reveals a number of areas that have evolved in executive searches, even within the past few years, and a wide variety of opportunities for customization. Come to this session to learn about the new leading practices for executive search and how your board can position your institution for success in attracting and retaining top senior leadership. Time will be allotted for questions and discussion.

Kim Bobby
, principal, AGB Search; former chief of staff, Prince George’s Community College
Rod McDavis, managing principal, AGB Search; president emeritus, Ohio University
Melissa Trotta, associate managing principal, AGB Search

Board Frameworks for Transformational Student Success

America’s higher education institutions transform individuals and communities. Over the past three years, AGB has engaged in multiple efforts to advance the capacity for boards to become partners and advocates for improving and sustaining equitable student success outcomes at their institutions. During this interactive session, participants will learn about major issues and trends impacting student success, frameworks and tools for effective planning for student success, and applications for their own institutions.

Kemal Atkins
, adjunct associate professor of educational leadership, Delaware State University; senior consultant, AGB
Lisa Foss, executive director, Council on Higher Education as a Strategic Asset; ambassador, AGB Council for Student Success; senior consultant, AGB Consulting

Campaign Leadership for the Future

Campaigns can have a transformative effect on an institution, fostering a culture of philanthropy, building advancement capacity, and identifying and funding visionary opportunities. Institution and affiliated foundation governing boards play a critical role in campaigns, helping to identify the big, cross-cutting ideas that will galvanize donors, opening doors with prospective funders, and making the case for support as champions and investors. Campaigns can also pose challenges, fatiguing donors, development staff, and campaign volunteers. This session will explore the role of governing and foundation board members in campaigns, the way the philanthropic environment is changing, and ways institutions are adapting campaign strategies at a time when growing non-tuition revenue is increasingly critical.

Trishana Bowden, vice president of advancement, George Mason University; president, George Mason University Foundation
Sergio Gonzalez, senior vice president for advancement, Brown University
William Jarvis, managing director and philanthropic executive, Bank of America
David Bass, executive director of philanthropic governance, AGB

Governing and Leading for Systemness: Leveraging Multi-Campus Collaboration for Resiliency and Student Success

The higher education sector is seeing a significant rise in multi-campus collaborations, from shared services to shared courses to shared leadership. Such collaborations have formed within public multi-campus systems and private consortia arrangements. Across all of these, governing boards need to rethink their role to ensure they can maximize the utility of such arrangements. This session will explore the findings of a recent study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to identify the critical drivers of facilitating and sustaining multi-campus collaborations. Speakers will provide real-world examples of systemness in action and present participants with tools and frameworks to use in their own work.

5:00 – 6:30 PM ET | Evening Reception

Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with national and international peers and colleagues. Indulge in light moments and make lasting connections.

With thanks to AGB Mission Partner TIAA

Thursday, March 28

7:15 AM – 12:30 PM ET | Registration

7:15 AM – 12:30 PM ET | AGB Experience

8:15 – 9:10 AM ET | Plenary: Politics and Poker in the Boardroom

Neither game’s for children; either game is rough
Decisions, decisions, like
Who to pick, how to play, what to bet, when to call a bluff

These lyrics from the musical Fiorello! seem resonant these days for boards of colleges and universities. From partisanship to sheer gamesmanship, boards are hindered by increasingly porous boundaries between higher education as a social institution and broader cultural contexts. This session will consider how trustees should respond when stakes are high and decisions are fraught.

Kevin Reilly
, president emeritus, University of Wisconsin System

Thomas W. Ross Sr.
, former president, University of North Carolina System; co-chair, Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina; former president, Davidson College
Cynthia Shapira, chair, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors; vice chair, Brandeis University Board of Trustees; member, AGB Board of Directors
Margaret Spellings, president and CEO, Bipartisan Policy Center; former U.S. secretary of education; former president, University of North Carolina System; co-chair, Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina

9:25 – 10:20 AM ET | Concurrent Sessions IV

Leading Public Higher Education Boards in a Divisive Environment

Come to this session to gain practical insights to contend with elevated challenges to constructive board governance. The sharpness of divisions in our society is too often reflected in the board’s focus or the conduct of its members. Board leaders at all levels have a responsibility to ensure the board’s work is characterized by integrity and substance. Increasingly, “ready” and “capable” board leaders are those whose skill sets defy on-the-fly learning and should be more intentionally cultivated.

Kevin Reilly
, president emeritus, University of Wisconsin System
Rico Munn, chief of staff, Colorado State University; former chair, Colorado State University System Board of Regents; trustee, Midland University
Nicole Washington, vice chair, Miami Dade College Board of Trustees; trustee, Florida A&M University; member, AGB Board of Directors
Mike Sherman, vice president student affairs, institutional effectiveness, and board professional, Youngstown State University

Presidential Turnover; Presidential Renewal

Boards of trustees should not only be concerned about the retention of their students. They should also be asking themselves how they can retain their capable CEOs. Presidents and chancellors are serving shorter terms in office than ever before, with real costs for colleges and universities. Why are presidents and chancellors departing after only a few years in office? What are some of the leading reasons they choose to leave for another opportunity? What might a board do to avoid this unwelcome, and often unexpected, turnover at the top? And how can a board work with its chief executive to renew their leadership for the increasingly elusive strategic advantage: a presidential second act?

Brian Rosenberg
, visiting professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education; president emeritus, Macalester College; author, Whatever It Is, I’m Against It: Resistance to Change in Higher Education

Calling All Skeptics: Diverse Manager Investing Facts and Myths amid Affirmative Action Ruling

Join this special session on how trustees can fulfill diversity goals in investment management following the Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action in college admissions. Participants will explore whether and how allocating part of the university endowment to investment firms owned by women and people of color can support trustees’ fiduciary duty while juggling competing demands from various stakeholders. Attendees will also hear from peer institutions about how they are navigating this process following the Supreme Court’s ruling on race-conscious admissions and gain insights on its broader implications.

Jasmine Richards
, head of diverse manager research, Cambridge Associates
Omar Sánchez, partner, Endowment & Foundation Practice, Cambridge Associates

Stories from the Field: Successful Examples of Impactful Mergers, Affiliations, and Partnerships

Mergers, affiliations, and partnerships (MAPs) are complex strategic initiatives that require board and leadership alignment in order to successfully execute them. If done well, MAP strategies can resolve financial and enrollment challenges, help sustain and advance mission and brand, and be a critical pathway toward sustainability and future prosperity for the institution. This session will elevate the voices of leaders from several different colleges and universities that have successfully navigated the complexities and challenges of MAP transactions and provide an opportunity for attendees to take away lessons that can help them advance their own strategic initiatives.

Rick Joseph
, senior consultant and MAP strategy expert, AGB Consulting

William Groves, chancellor, Antioch University
Mark Falkowski, general counsel, Lindenwood University

Private Board Leadership for Consistency and Continuity

Come to this session to learn leading practices to position your board as a key asset in extraordinary times. A Jim Collins adage relates to getting the right people in the right seats on the bus; increasingly, prospects for good board governance seem to hinge on getting the right people in the right seats on the space shuttle. Keeping your board or committee focused, engaged at the right level, and moving forward isn’t magic; it relies on learnable skills and competencies.

Cathy Havener Greer
, trustee emerita and former chair, Randolph College Board of Trustees; member, AGB Board of Directors

Theodore E. Long
, president emeritus, Elizabethtown College; former trustee, Capital University; senior fellow, AGB
Debra Meade, chair, Hollins University Board of Trustees
Kenneth Moore, chair, St. Peter’s University Board of Trustees

Marketing Online Programs as a Driving Force for Institutional Viability

In an era of constant change and intense competition within higher education, marketing has evolved into a critical driver of institutional viability, particularly as schools increasingly seek to aggressively grow their online enrollments. In this session, leaders from Unity Environmental University and EducationDynamics will explore the pivotal role strategic marketing plays within an institution seeking to expand online programs while remaining true to its mission and vision.

Discover how today’s visionary leaders are driving institutional strategy through data-driven decision-making and market insights. Learn how effective marketing strategies and branding can elevate your institution’s reputation, grow your program enrollment, and differentiate your institution in a crowded marketplace.

Melik Peter Khoury
, president and CEO, Unity Environmental University
Sharon Reishus, chair, Unity Environmental University Board of Trustees
Greg Clayton, president of enrollment management services, EducationDynamics

How Trustees Can Help Move the Dial on Strategic Issues

Starting now, how can you ensure your board service is defined by impact? Participants in this session will first become familiar with AGB’s 2024-2025 Top Strategic Issues facing colleges and universities. With that framing and context, the speaker will offer insights as to how trustees can elevate their own performance and position their board to add value where it matters most.

Artis Hampshire-Cowan
, trustee, Claflin University; senior consultant and senior fellow, AGB

Promoting Student Success Beyond Completion in Every State

The integration of higher education, workforce development, and economic development is a new core competency that colleges and universities and their governing boards must master. Gone are the days of stakeholder confidence in the benefits of a college education outweighing the costs, including opportunity costs; data-informed strategies to achieve and demonstrate this value are now not optional. Come to this session for firsthand insights on the evolution underway to account—and become appropriately accountable—for employment quality among graduates.

Kristin Hultquist
, chair, Metropolitan State University of Denver Board of Trustees; former senior advisor to the Under Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education; former education program director, National Governors Association
Harrison Keller, commissioner of higher education and CEO, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

10:35 – 11:30 AM ET | Concurrent Sessions V

Board and Trustee Assessment: Getting to Value-Added

The most valuable board and trustee assessments create opportunities for leadership. While assessment can be a distraction (or worse) if done poorly, successful assessments build a common understanding of shared goals, offer insights into problems and obstacles, and establish clear steps to achieve better performance. Learn how you can use board and trustee assessments to promote alignment between presidents and boards and advance institutional goals. Bring your questions, challenges, and concerns for discussion.

Lawrence Schall
, president, New England Commission of Higher Education; trustee, Spelman College; former president, Oglethorpe University
Loren K. Robinson, trustee, Spelman College Board of Trustees
Pamela Reeves, trustee, Brown University Board of Trustees
Cristin Toutsi Grigos, senior vice president and chief content and programs officer, AGB

Board-President Relations for Change Leadership

Change is a nearly universal imperative for higher education leaders today. The urgency and anxiety burdening that imperative sometimes lead to unexpected turns in relationships between boards and presidents. Come to this session for experiential wisdom about where boards and presidents are prone to get out of sync in tumultuous times, and how they can develop intentional partnerships that set the table for necessary change.

Alvin J. Schexnider
, former chancellor, Winston-Salem State University; former president, Thomas Nelson Community College; senior fellow, AGB; author, Confessions of a Black Academic: A Memoir (June 2024).

John S. Wilson
, former trustee, Spelman College; executive director, Millennium Leadership Initiative, American Association of State Colleges and Universities; former president, Morehouse College; author, Hope and Healing: Black Colleges and the Future of American Democracy
Javaune Adams-Gaston, president, Norfolk State University; trustee, University of Dubuque; member, AGB Council of Presidents
Richard D. Legon, former trustee, Spelman College and University of Charleston; former member, Virginia State University Board of Visitors; former president, AGB

Data-Driven Governance: The Power of Social Listening in Strategic Planning

Governing boards and senior leaders face increasingly complex challenges that demand strategic foresight. This session will explore the role of social listening—gathering audience, market, and reputation intelligence from online word-of-mouth and media—in informing and guiding the strategic planning process for public and private institutions. By sharing real-world experiences and best practices in collaboration with the University of Arkansas–Fort Smith, participants will gain valuable insights to empower their boards and presidents to make informed decisions. Attendees will take away strategies to inform and shape their institution’s strategic planning.

Liz Gross
, founder and CEO, Campus Sonar
Blake Rickman, vice chancellor for university advancement, University of Arkansas–Fort Smith; executive director, UAFS Foundation

Margin for Mission: Diversifying Revenue Models with a Common Purpose

Public and nonprofit higher education is undergoing a transformational shift marked by a convergence of financial pressures demanding innovative solutions. Boards often understand the challenges and rightly realize diversifying revenue is an indispensable part of the solution. But how can your board help prevent your institution from grasping at straws? And in that context, how might it provide a voice of reason for optimizing resource allocation on one hand, and maintaining fidelity to the core mission on the other? Come to this session to get under the hood on these essential questions.

Carlton Brown
, trustee, San Francisco Bay University; former president, Clark Atlanta University, and Savannah State University; senior consultant and senior fellow, AGB Consulting

Mergers in Higher Education: Act or React

All too often, when merging may be the answer, the institution doesn’t consider that option until its financial condition has deteriorated to the point that it cannot negotiate from a position of strength. This session will share findings from empirical research with over two dozen private higher education board and executive leaders involved in mergers. Participants will come away with clarity on six “pillars of strength” boards should assess on a regular basis to determine how much runway their institution has when taking action.

Jonathan Wexler
, trustee, Goucher College; vice president for enrollment management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Higher Education as a Strategic Asset: Input on Recommendations from a National Initiative (US)

Over the past year, AGB has convened the Council on Higher Education as a Strategic Asset (HESA), a multi-sector coalition focused on ensuring America’s global competitive position by proposing new models for higher education policy, funding, and collaboration to develop the human capital required to support national interests at speed and scale. During this session, HESA representatives will share the current draft recommendations with the goal of gathering input from participants to inform HESA’s May 2024 discussion and the final report that will be released in June 2024.

Lisa Helmin Foss
, executive director, Council on Higher Education as a Strategic Asset for our Nation (HESA); former vice president for planning & engagement and chief strategy officer, St. Cloud State University; ambassador, AGB Council for Student Success

The Art of Possible: What Can Be If AI and Advanced Data Analytics Are Embraced and Governed with Intention

In this session, experts will explain how artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced data analytics can be used to protect and enhance your institution by driving data-based decisions. The panelists will share past AI successes, anticipated future uses, and AI concepts matured in other industries that are applicable to higher education. They will demonstrate why evolving predictive analytics and forecasting tools are essential to an institution’s sustainability and will provide insights on keys to cost effectiveness and good governance—with practical use cases .

Christine Smith
, managing director – higher education, Baker Tilly

Dave DuVarney
, principal and data analytics services leader, Baker Tilly Digital
Jordan Anderson, director, Baker Tilly Digital
Kate Akers, associate vice chancellor for advanced data analytics & chief data officer, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)

Crisis Leadership

Crises R Us is an apt way to describe the identity of too many boards and presidents these days. The perennial gap between expansive missions and the resources to accomplish them remains a constant challenge. New problems arise almost daily. Colleges and universities are in the crosshairs of political, ideological, and geopolitical disputes while boycotts, strikes, and no-confidence votes are on the rise. Come to this session to learn how others are addressing these challenges and developing new capabilities as crisis leaders.

Terrence MacTaggart
, former chancellor, University of Maine System and Minnesota State University System; senior consultant and senior fellow, AGB Consulting

11:45 AM – 12:30 PM ET | Final Keynote: Govern to Meet the Moment: Student-Centered Governance

Times have changed, student needs and expectations have changed, and boards themselves have changed. All colleges and universities undertake a core mission of education, yet overseeing and resourcing effective and innovative educational strategy was one of the very least intuitive elements of trusteeship, even before ground began to shift. What is the new work of boards in ensuring connectivity between student learning and productive, fulfilling lives, especially in a time of digital transformation and the emergence of a knowledge-based economy? Come to this session for inspiring, actionable straight talk to help you and your colleagues meet this moment.

Ruth V. Watkins
, president, postsecondary education, Strada Education Network; former president, University of Utah

Paul Tough, author, The Inequality Machine: How College Divides Us
Mary A. Papazian, executive vice president, AGB; trustee, Haigazian University; former president, San Jose State University and Southern Connecticut State University

12:30 – 2:00 PM ET | Peer Groups Luncheon

We heard you. The desire for AGB members to meet and exchange knowledge with peers at like institutions has reached a new high in the mid-2020s. For the very first time, conference participants are invited to enjoy an intimate, extended lunch with five to seven peers. Seating will be arranged by AGB staff according to:

  • Institution type (Carnegie Classification)
  • Institution location
  • Participant role (trustee, board chair, president, etc.)

Note: AGB will request a separate RSVP for the purpose of assigned seating.

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