Principles of Trusteeship

How to Become a Highly Effective Board Member for Colleges, Universities, and Foundations


$45.00 (Member Price $32.00)


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Principles of Trusteeship Guide Cover


$45.00 (Member Price $32.00)


Download E-book
This resource for individual board members captures the essence of highly effective trusteeship in a concise and easy-to-use format. The Principles of Trusteeship lays out a vision for more effective boards based on more effective individual board members. To help board members become more effective, AGB developed this set of nine principles nested within three core functions: understanding governance, leading by example, and thinking strategically.
Being a great trustee begins with understanding what your role in governance is, and what it isn’t. It is about sharing leadership with fellow trustees, the president and administration, and the faculty—but it also requires respecting the boundaries between the board and the administration.
Trusteeship is about leading toward the future. It means keeping an eye on the horizon and thinking about the enterprise as a whole. It is also about listening and learning. It means asking the right questions.
Trusteeship requires impeccable integrity. Because the board sits at the top of the hierarchy in an academic enterprise, trustees must model the institution’s ethics and values.
Trusteeship is not about sitting on the board; it is about serving on the board. It is a calling for those who want to make a difference in any number of ways, including being strategic about the institution’s sustainability.
  • Foreword by Henry Stoever
  • Introduction
    • 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.
    • Principle 4: Conduct yourself with impeccable integrity.
    • Principle 5: Think independently and act collectively.
    • Principle 6: Champion justice, equity, and inclusion.
    • 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.
    • A Call to Action
Title Information
  • A bulk discount is available for orders of 10 or more copies.
  • Publication Year: 2021
  • ISBN: 978-1-951635-03-9
  • 56 pages
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“The Principles of Trusteeship provide an essential tool for individual board members to achieve the highest level of effective service. I highly recommend that boards and senior leaders use these practical principles to benchmark their performance and develop strategies to maximize board performance during these challenging times.”

–Steven Bahls, President
Augustana College

“As the title of this publication denotes, these are principles, not practices or policies. Principles are not negotiable or discretionary. Practices and policies, on the other hand, can and sometimes should be adapted to local circumstances. The nine principles presented here—all sound, realistic, and intertwined—map the genetic code of effective trustees.”

–Richard Chait, Professor Emeritus of Higher Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Former Trustee, Wheaton (Massachusetts), Goucher, and Maryville Colleges

“While the board acts as a collective, it can only govern wisely and well if it has members who act in accordance with the principles of trusteeship.”

–Eleanor V. Horne, Member, Board of Directors, AGB
Trustee, The College of New Jersey

“I wish I had been provided a copy of a book like this when I served on an educational institution’s governing board. The Principles of Trusteeship is the secret sauce that can help guide all board members to excel at the highest levels of good governance.”

–Leonard R. Raley, President and Chief Executive Officer
University System of Maryland Foundation

“I read Principles of Trusteeship, which I think is probably the best AGB publication I’ve seen to date in 10 years. I love that piece. It’s helped us be better trustees, be better senior staff, and, I dare say, better leaders of our campus.”

–Richard Uchida, Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of the College
Colby College

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