New AGB Resource Prepares Governing Boards of Public Higher Education Systems to Lead Major Transformation

By AGB March 16, 2023 Press Releases
Press Release

For Immediate Release
Morgan Alexander

WASHINGTON, DC (March 16, 2023)—The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) today released Assessing Board Readiness to Lead Change in Public Higher Education Systems. This resource provides a practical approach to measuring the capacity of a public university system board to transform the system it oversees, presenting the analyses and actions that it must take to meet the evolving expectations of students as well as state leaders. AGB is the premier organization advocating strategic board governance in higher education.

Public higher education systems are typically state entities made up of multiple colleges or universities overseen by a central administration and governing board. In fall 2021, 72 percent of the nation’s 17 million postsecondary students attended public colleges and universities, and about two-thirds of those institutions are part of public systems. Given the scope of the institutions under system auspices and the huge scale of students who are enrolled at system-affiliated institutions, systems are vital to shaping American higher education’s future. System governing boards therefore must be ready to work with system leaders and staff to leverage that scope and scale to lead the kind of strategic transformations needed to deliver more affordable and relevant college degrees.

The publication is divided into three chapters, each with accompanying appendices, templates, and other tools that support the “prework” analysis and actions the board must undertake before engaging in major changes. The first chapter provides an overview of the types of public system boards that are active across the American higher education landscape, with an appreciation for their differences.

The second chapter focuses on a process for identifying strengths and weaknesses of the board that are central to its ability to oversee transformational initiatives. The assessment is composed of 15 questions to identify gaps between a board’s current capacities and behaviors and where the board believes it needs to be.

The third chapter dives into how to develop action plans to address high-priority gaps and ends with a brief reflection on what to do if a gap cannot be closed.

The result is a suite of recommendations and practical resources to ensure a system board is equipped to lead a large, transformational agenda.

“The pace of change in higher education is only accelerating, and governing boards need to meet the moment,” said Henry Stoever, AGB president and CEO. “Technological advances, market disruptions, and more are fundamentally changing student needs. As changes continue across the higher education landscape, this resource can help board members move from a solely reactive stance to one of proactivity.”

“Today’s approaches to managing change might prove insufficient tomorrow,” said R. Barbara Gitenstein, PhD, AGB senior vice president of consulting. “It’s important for public system boards to understand and embrace that reality and to foster a culture of constant evaluation and preparedness for the future.”

A complimentary e-book version of Assessing Board Readiness to Lead Change in Public Higher Education Systems is available for AGB members on the website. Print copies are also available for purchase, with a discount for members.

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 more than 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.


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