Principles of Trusteeship

Become a highly effective board member.

Highly effective trustees are a prerequisite for a highly effective board. While the authority of a governing board lies in the collective action of its members, each individual trustee contributes to—or limits—the effectiveness of the board as a whole. 

AGB developed the Principles of Trusteeship to help you become a more productive member of the board. Most governance resources focus on the responsibilities of the board, but these nine principles outline attitudes and actions each trustee should embody.

Browse below to learn more about each principle and access related resources, or click here to preorder the full guide.

Principles of Trusteeship Diagram

AGB Governance Briefings: Institutionally Related Foundations

UNDERSTAND
GOVERNANCE

PRINCIPLE 1
Embrace the full scope of
your responsibilities.

PRINCIPLE 2
Respect the difference between the
board’s role and the administration’s role.

PRINCIPLE 3
Be an ambassador for your institution
and higher education.

Presidential Assessment Meeting Group Speaker

LEAD BY
EXAMPLE

PRINCIPLE 4
Conduct yourself with
impeccable integrity.

PRINCIPLE 5
Think independently
and act collectively.

PRINCIPLE 6
Champion justice, equity,
and inclusion.

Mergers and Affiliations Strategy and Transformation

THINK
STRATEGICALLY

PRINCIPLE 7
Learn about the mission, constituents,
culture, and context.

PRINCIPLE 8
Focus on what matters most to
long-term sustainability.

PRINCIPLE 9
Ask insightful questions and
listen with an open mind.

AGB Governance Briefings: Institutionally Related Foundations

UNDERSTAND
GOVERNANCE

PRINCIPLE 1
Embrace the full scope of
your responsibilities.

PRINCIPLE 2
Respect the difference
between the board’s role
and the administration’s role.

PRINCIPLE 3
Be an ambassador for
your institution and
higher education.

Presidential Assessment Meeting Group Speaker

LEAD BY
EXAMPLE

PRINCIPLE 4
Conduct yourself with
impeccable integrity.

PRINCIPLE 5
Think independently
and act collectively.

PRINCIPLE 6
Champion justice, equity,
and inclusion.

Mergers and Affiliations Strategy and Transformation

THINK
STRATEGICALLY

PRINCIPLE 7
Learn about the mission,
constituents, culture,
and context.

PRINCIPLE 8
Focus on what matters
most to long-term
sustainability.

PRINCIPLE 9
Ask insightful questions and
listen with an open mind.

This guide conveys the essence of highly effective trusteeship in a concise, easy-to-use format. It defines the attitudes and actions of highly effective board members, and provides insight into three fundamental functions:

  • Understand governance by embracing all of your responsibilities in a structure of shared leadership.
  • Lead by example by upholding the highest standards of integrity.
  • Think strategically by focusing on what matters most to the long-term success of the whole enterprise.
Principles of Trusteeship Guide Cover