Five Higher Education Governing Boards Receive the AGB 2023 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership

By AGB January 18, 2023 March 6th, 2023 Press Releases
Press Release

For Immediate Release
Morgan Alexander

WASHINGTON, DC (JANUARY 18, 2023)—The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), in partnership with TIAA, today announced that it has selected five higher education governing boards to receive the 2023 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership. Established in 1992, the Nason Award is presented to higher education governing boards that demonstrate exceptional leadership and initiative. The recipients of this year’s award addressed pressing issues related to transformational student success efforts.

AGB is the premier organization advocating strategic board governance in higher education. TIAA is a Fortune 100 financial services organization dedicated to helping its clients pursue financial well-being.

This year’s honorees were chosen from a diverse array of nominations illustrating the essential work of boards from four-year public and private colleges and universities, two-year institutions, and institutionally related foundations. Each recipient was recognized for its justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion-related programs and initiatives as well as its efforts to enhance student success. This year’s Nason Award recipients are:

  • Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Board of Trustees—The CMC Board of Trustees, an elected board, committed itself to serving the needs of students and the community through multiple institutional initiatives. These included $60 million in college and locally raised funds for affordable housing; expanded funding for academic programming and technology for high-demand fields like nursing; broad concurrent enrollment opportunities for high school students across Colorado; and concentrated board advocacy for critical public policy changes that strengthened CMC’s financial health and its support for underserved students. These targeted approaches bolster student outcomes as well as the state’s economic health.
  • Holyoke Community College (HCC) Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors (Massachusetts)—Amidst a fluctuating market, the HCC Foundation Board of Directors invested in community essentials to shape a strong future. Namely, the Board of Directors prioritized equity by increasing its Student Emergency Fund, establishing the Bienvenidos Scholarship for Latinx students, and securing support from philanthropic partners to combat food insecurity on campus. The board also intentionally prioritized its racial makeup; developed onboarding and mentor programs for board members; and created a strategic memorandum of understanding to align its efforts with the needs of the community college it supports.
  • Texas Christian University (TCU) Board of Trustees—As part of its responsibility to advance TCU’s mission, strategic goals, and student and community success, the TCU Board of Trustees has prioritized an inclusive environment that fosters belonging for all students, faculty, and staff. With the Board’s leadership and championing, the University developed the Race & Reconciliation Initiative (RRI)—an academically based, historically focused initiative designed to explore research and document the University’s 150-year history and develop recommendations to build a more inclusive community. Trustees also helped develop the University’s DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) goals, which helped establish an intercultural center on campus; increased goals and training related to diversity, equity, and inclusion education; increased diversity among mental health counselors, faculty, and administrators; and led to the appointment of the University’s first Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Chief Inclusion Officer. Simultaneously, the Board commissioned the Study/Advisement on University Social Issues Subcommittee, which engaged Board members with ongoing DEI initiatives and strategic planning for equitable student success.
  • Utah State University (USU) Foundation Board—After celebrating a more than $110 million record-breaking fundraising year in 2021, the USU Foundation Board is championing the “Create Your Aggie Impact” initiative-driven fundraising campaign that matches donor passions with university priorities and focuses on gift impact. The board was instrumental in earning legislative and financial support for the university’s newly founded, and Utah’s only, College of Veterinary Medicine, and advancing efforts in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Many successful outcomes included creating a collaborative partnership between USU (a historically White university) and Fort Valley State University (a historically Black university); supporting the creation of the inaugural USU Vice President of DEI position; approving budgets that prioritize equitable pay; building an inclusive environment that encourages dialogue and interaction on diverse views; and proudly planning to welcome its first female chair in July 2023.
  • Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees—The Board of Trustees of Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically Black and Catholic institution in the United States, led and contributed to several strategic initiatives including modernizing campus housing and addressing deferred maintenance needs precipitated by Hurricane Katrina; supporting plans to bolster student retention through data collection and early at-risk detection; overseeing the optimization of Xavier’s faculty search, hiring, and training processes to increase diversity and preparedness to address student needs; and raising $65 million through its Centennial Campaign. The board is also in the planning phase of founding a medical school, which would greatly complement Xavier’s national rank as the number-one institution for Black graduates who go on to complete medical school.

“Strategic governing boards play a vital role in assuring the value and vitality of higher education,” said Henry Stoever, AGB president and CEO. “We are grateful for these boards’ contributions in creating a more just, equitable, and inclusive environment for all students, and we hope that their efforts will inspire more boards to hone their strategic thought partnership with chief executives and leadership teams. I am impressed by the achievements of our honorees, and I look forward to their future strides in promoting student success—for all students.”

Recipients of the 2023 awards will be honored at AGB’s Foundation Leadership Forum (January 29–31) and National Conference on Trusteeship (April 2–4).

“Effective board governance is a commitment that can result in monumental shifts,” said Liz Morse, head of associations at TIAA. “It is essential to empower boards to strategically navigate their institutions through higher education’s challenges. AGB and TIAA are excited to highlight and share the success stories of boards for others to emulate. I am pleased to contribute to the AGB Nason Award and offer heartfelt congratulations to this year’s honorees.”

The Nason award is named for higher education leader John W. Nason, who served as the chair of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and helped more than 4,000 interned students continue their college studies across the nation during World War II. AGB would like to thank TIAA for its support of the Nason Award. Learn more about AGB’s Nason Award at

About AGB 

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) is the premier membership organization that strengthens higher education governing boards and the strategic roles they serve within their organizations. Through our vast library of resources, educational events, and consulting services, and with 100 years of experience, we empower 40,000 AGB members from more than 2,000 institutions and foundations to navigate complex issues, implement leading practices, streamline operations, and govern with confidence. AGB is the trusted resource for board members, chief executives, and key administrators on higher education governance and leadership.

About TIAA  

TIAA is a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions to millions of people and thousands of institutions. It is the #1 not-for-profit retirement market provider,[1]; paid more than $6.4 billion in lifetime income to retired clients in 2021, and has $1.2 trillion in assets under management (as of 6/30/2022).[2] 

1  As of July 21, 2022. Based on data in PLANSPONSOR’s 403(b) 2022 DC Recordkeeping Survey, combined 457 and 403(b) data. 

2  As of September 30, 2022, assets under management across Nuveen Investments affiliates and TIAA investment management teams are $1,179 billion. 


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