Board Oversight of Equitable Student Success

Plan your board's equitable student success journey.

Sustained inquiry (asking key questions) is a board’s most useful tool as it fulfills its fiduciary duties. Boards will need to ask intentional questions of themselves and institutional stakeholders. Much of our research has demonstrated that an institution can be doing intentional work regarding equitable student success without board engagement and vice versa so it is helpful to ask questions at two levels.

Where are you?

Where is the institution?

  • How does differentiation across institution type and mission create an opportunity to advance student success in equity-informed ways?
  • What do your student, staff, and faculty demographics look like?
  • What are your goals for student success?  

Where is the board?

  • Has the board determined what student success means at its institution? 
  • Has the board assessed its own commitment to equitable student success and to continuous board engagement to work towards these goals?    
  • Has the board started discussing what its role is in terms of student success? 
  • Has the board worked with the chief executive and other leaders to review student and campus data related to equitable student success? 

Where do you need to be?

Where does the institution need to be?

  • How do the unique demographics of an institution create opportunities to advance student success in equity-informed ways?
  • Where are the equity gaps related to student success?
  • What are the goals the institution has across these metrics?
  • Where are our peer institutions related to these goals? 

Where does the board need to be?

  • Has the board worked with the president to establish equitable student success as a priority? 
  • Has the board set clear expectations for equitable student success with the president?

How do you get to where you want/need to be?

How does the institution get there?

  • How can facilitating and leveraging the expertise of other campus stakeholders produce opportunities to advance student success in equity-informed ways?
    • What is the explicit role board members have to play in achieving these goals?
    • What are those policies, practices, procedures, and people that board needs to oversee?  

How does the board get there?

  • Does the board have a system in place where it can regularly receive updates regarding progress with equitable student success? 

How do you remain agile to continue progressing?

How does the institution progress?

  • Equity and student success are not items to check off a list. Achievement does not look like a destination, but rather a journey.

How does the board progress?

  • Is the board intentionally and consistently evaluating and assessing metrics and attainment related to student success?  
  • Is the assessment both internal (centered on the board) and external (centered on the institution)? As your knowledge base, goals, and stakeholders change, (re)assessment is key. Continuous reassessment is necessary. 
  • Has the institution or the board become predisposed to changing approaches as they learn? 

Asking questions without taking action toward improvement is not enough. Boards can use the map below to understand where they are in their journey and identify what outcomes they should focus on next.

This workshop can help your board understand student success challenges; the language, stakeholders, and policies related to equitable student success; and the data-informed impetus for the work and clarification that campus stakeholders can make a difference in improving success outcomes and experiences for students. Learn more about the workshop.
This workshop is coming soon. View all workshop tools and resources.
This workshop is coming soon. View all workshop tools and resources.
This workshop is coming soon. View all workshop tools and resources.
This workshop is coming soon. View all workshop tools and resources.
This workshop is coming soon. View all workshop tools and resources.

“We are excited to work with the Gates Foundation to develop and provide board members with resources to help them oversee and advance student success. This grant will allow us to create an informative and practical curriculum for boards with actionable recommendations and resources.”

Henry Stoever

President and CEO, AGB