New AGB Resource Outlines the Most Pressing Issues Facing Higher Education

Top Strategic Issues for Boards 2020-2021 Offers Guidance for Trustees to Serve as Drivers of Change and Innovation

By AGB April 30, 2020 June 2nd, 2020 Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Susan Oliver

WASHINGTON, DC (APRIL 30, 2020)—The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), the premier organization representing higher education governance, today released Top Strategic Issues for Boards 2020-2021, a biennial resource for trustees. The new edition provides an in-depth overview of the most pressing issues that confront higher education institutions and require strategic oversight and innovative thinking from board members. As colleges and universities face a changed landscape, the COVID-19 pandemic intersects with many of these issues, and its impact on them is covered throughout the publication.

The strategic issues that are detailed in the publication include:

  • restoring public confidence in higher education;
  • strengthening board capability and accountability;
  • meeting the needs of students and bridging societal divides;
  • preparing for further market disruptions;
  • helping presidents and institutions innovate; and
  • finding more effective ways to manage a welter of risks.

“The scope and severity of challenges facing the higher education community require a renewed focus and commitment from all leaders in the sector,” said Henry Stoever, AGB president and CEO. “Our nation’s college and university governing boards are facing a monumental task. They must help address the immediate pandemic crisis, but they also must face a multitude of other challenges in the higher education enterprise. This substantive resource can help board members move from advisors to change agents.”

The publication points out that institutional responses to combating COVID-19, such as mandated online learning, will have major implications for academic instruction. It states, “The fact that massive open online courses have neither decimated face-to-face instruction nor doomed the residential collegiate model does not mean online distributed learning technologies have lost their power to disrupt. But the coronavirus pandemic also underscored their utility, as campuses across the country sent students home and switched to online classes for all.”

According to the Babson Survey Research Group, 30 percent of American college students took at least one class online in 2016, the fourteenth consecutive year of increase.

Merrill Schwartz, AGB’s senior vice president of content strategy and development, sees this trend growing in the wake of COVID-19. “This pandemic undoubtedly will accelerate the trend of online learning, as institutions seek ways to operate more efficiently and students become more accustomed to it. Even before the pandemic, students living on campus chose to take some courses online because they enjoyed the flexibility.”

A complimentary e-book version of Top Strategic Issues for Boards 2020-2021 is available for AGB members at It is also available for purchase in hard copy with a membership discount. Both the digital and print versions include questions designed to guide board discussions on each issue. A new appendix helps facilitate broader board conversations about strategic thinking and planning, and the board’s work on institutional viability and operational efficiency.

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 nearly 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.


The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.