Why this is important.

Board engagement in strategic planning and strategic thinking is essential in today’s uncertain higher education environment. Strategic actions enable colleges’ and universities’ forward-looking leaders to effectively respond to rapidly evolving challenges.

Boards must ensure strategic thinking guides strategic planning in the boardroom and throughout the institution. Strategic planning requires data-informed, inclusive, and collaborative dialogue among board members, administrators, faculty, staff, and key stakeholders. Ultimately, boards are indispensable when it comes to creating strategic visions of the future; they spearhead the alignment of strategic plans and institutional missions to ensure the long-term fiscal sustainability and growth of higher education institutions.

AGB empowers our members to prioritize strategic planning, and we encourage boards to ask questions about key assumptions, resource requirements, and priorities that drive your strategic actions.

Source: Strategic Thinking and Planning in Higher Education: A Focus on the Future by Larry D. Shinn, AGB Press, 2017

Questions for boards.

Click below to reveal key questions for your board to consider:

Vision, mission, and model

Consequential Questions:

  1. Do our vision and mission contain enough specificity to clearly articulate what we do especially well to attract, retain, and graduate students? Are we able to differentiate our institution from others because we deliver on our promises of excellence?
  2. Do we know if our current educational and financial model is or is not sustainable for the next 10 years?
  3. With 5-10-year goals in mind, what are the policy and finance levers the board can, should, and must pull to enable effective presidential leadership?
  4. Does our institution have a comprehensive enrollment strategy? What other comprehensive strategies do we have and which are we missing?


“Getting Your Board into Strategy Mode,” AGB Blog Post November 7, 2019

“Realigning Strategy and Footprint to Achieve Fiscal Resilience,” AGB Blog Post by Raina Rose Tagle and Christine Smith, December 1, 2020

Students and beneficiaries

Consequential Questions:

  1. In what ways can our current curricula, modes of instruction, and academic structures be modified to better benefit the increasingly diverse students we will need to serve?
  2. What can we do to better align our students’ outcomes with workforce expectations?
  3. If we achieve in 5-10 years what we’ve set out to do, then will this institution better serve its beneficiaries, or be better positioned to serve them? Do our longer-term objectives need to be adjusted?
  4. Is our institution effectively managing the transition to new learning modalities in response to student demand?


“Questions Boards Should Ask about Their Enrollment Strategy,” AGB Blog Post by RNL, July 8, 2020

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