The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) announced today that it will honor six of its member boards with the 2018-2019 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership at the 2019 AGB National Conference on Trusteeship being held in Orlando, Florida on April 14-16. Now in its fourth year, the award is named for higher education leader John W. Nason, recognized for his work as chair of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and who helped more than 4,000 interned students continue their college studies across the nation during World War II. The award, presented to governing boards demonstrating exceptional leadership and initiative in the past year, is exclusively sponsored by TIAA.
This year’s honorees were chosen from some 35 nominations illustrating the critical work of boards from both public and private institutions, statewide systems, and institutionally related foundations. This year’s Nason Award recipients are:
- Furman University (SC) Board of Trustees. In 2016, Furman University announced The Furman Advantage, a strategic vision that involved, among other institutional changes, a 15-month process of board assessment, reflection, and eventual update to its governance practices. As a result of the plan, Furman made significant changes to board composition, term limits, orientation, and evaluation— using a data-driven approach to ensure the board was contributing to the institution’s goal of fostering more educational value for students.
- Haverford College (PA) Board of Managers. Over several years, the Haverford College board went through a focused exploration of the relationship between the college’s identity and new concerns that challenged the institution’s founding values. In the face of internal and external pressure, Haverford made a renewed commitment to its core principles in several high-profile areas, including revamping its financial aid policy, reaffirming its solidarity with marginalized groups, and taking an active role in confronting public policy issues affecting the college’s mission.
- Kansas State University Foundation Board of Directors. The Kansas State University (KSU) Foundation Board of Directors chose to transcend the traditional role of an institutionally related foundation after confronting three years of cuts to state funding for the university. The foundation created a scholarship administration system and collaborated with university leadership to identify and procure software that matches student data with scholarship criteria to provide a robust list of students that fit scholarship qualifications—greatly assisting the institution with both enrollment and access to a wide range of students. Additionally, the board launched a new process to better utilize donor funds and created a real estate strategy to draw corporate partners to campus.
- St. John’s University (NY) Board of Trustees. St. John’s was impacted by the financial crisis in 2009 followed by several years of enrollment slowdowns, increasing deferred maintenance and capital costs, a major decline in its endowment, and its first presidential transition in 24 years. To tackle these concerns, the board designed a smooth transition plan, welcoming a new president in 2014. Drafted by a campus-wide working group, the board approved a Strategic Priorities Action Plan in 2015 that focused on student success and fiscal discipline, froze tuition, room and board, and other fees for one-year, increased enrollment by recruiting local students, and implemented a campus-wide digital transformation to improve learning outcomes.
- Miami University (OH) Board of Trustees. As part of a deliberate effort to cultivate creativity and innovation at the institution, the Miami University board, collaborating directing with the president and provost, championed a wide-reaching Miami University 2020 Plan, that led to increased revenue, improved productivity, and reduced cost. The board has also supported the growth and enhancement of several of the most successful academic programs at the university, including the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies and the nationally ranked Institute for Entrepreneurship.
- Youngstown State University (OH) Board of Trustees. In 2013, Youngstown State University (YSU) found itself fighting to maintain fiscal integrity after years of declining enrollment and reduced state appropriations. To overcome a $10-million structural deficit, the Board and the administration worked with the campus community, as well as the YSU Foundation, to effectively erase the deficit in just a few years. The board also worked to renew its commitment to shared governance on campus, adopting both a resolution on shared governance and other policies that outline principles and expectations for integrated decision-making.
“The John Nason Award is a unique chance to recognize boards that have each addressed steep challenges to their institutions, and have demonstrated innovative and collaborative leadership,” said AGB President Richard D. Legon. “We look forward to honoring this year’s six selected boards at the National Conference, and we extend our appreciation to TIAA for its support of this significant honor.”
All six boards will be honored at AGB’s National Conference, as well as at their individual board meetings this spring.
AGB would like to express deep appreciation for TIAA and its generous support of the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership.