Inside AGB

By AGB    //    Volume 30,  Number 1   //    January/February 2022

AGB Gears Up for Virtual 2022 National Conference on Trusteeship

AGB will host the 2022 National Conference on Trusteeship (NCT) virtually from April 12–14, 2022. This year’s theme, “Beyond Disruption,” encourages colleges and universities to adjust course in meaningful ways since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged to become both more financially secure and more effective in serving students and society.

NCT will be presented on a powerful virtual event platform that invites attendees to participate in plenary sessions, peer exchanges, community convenings, and dozens of concurrent sessions. Networking is a critical component to this virtual conference, and the platform supports continuous networking via messaging, one-on-one sessions, chat rooms with speakers, facilitated working groups, and virtual roundtable sessions.

The 2022 National Conference on Trusteeship provides access to an unparalleled group of experts and thought leaders for learning and exchange as attendees set new directions for their institutions. Programming includes plenary sessions such as “The Future Is Diverse: A Special Session on Higher Education Leadership” in which AGB President and CEO Henry Stoever will lead a discussion on maximizing talent in response to challenges facing colleges and universities. The range of sessions for the virtual conference are broad: topics such as board assessment, presidential transitions, the Principles of Trusteeship, and strategic transformation for social justice outcomes are included in the session lineup.

Space is limited for each virtual session. Advance registration is encouraged. Visit for more information.

AGB Releases Policies, Practices, and Composition of Governing Boards of Colleges, Universities, and Institutionally Related Foundations 2021 

Policies, Practices, and Composition of Governing Boards of Colleges, Universities, and Institutionally Related Foundations 2021 is a census report that is conducted every five years and can generate dialogue regarding higher education governance through its survey data. The report is based on the 2020 Policies, Practices, and Composition Survey that was completed by respondents on behalf of 117 public governing boards, 325 independent governing boards, and 97 foundations.

In the latest iteration of the survey data, board members remain predominantly older White men, yet boards’ diversity in terms of gender, age, race, and ethnicity has increased somewhat since the 2015 survey. Women composed 37.1 percent of public boards and 36.3 percent of independent boards in 2020, an increase of more than four percentage points for each sector from 2015. Women made up 35 percent of foundation boards in 2020, an increase of 9.2 percentage points from 2015. Despite gains since 2015, the overall percentage of female board members does not reflect that 59.5 percent of college students in the United States were women as of spring 2021.

The 2020 survey asked respondents new questions about board diversification on a number of fronts, both demographic and experiential (e.g., professional background, veteran status, and first-generation-student status). A total of 97.6 percent of foundation boards, 95.1 percent of independent boards, and 50 percent of public boards indicated they are currently attempting to diversify their composition. “Boards with more diversity are often more prepared to contribute to new institutional priorities and address a broader swath of potential challenges because of their varied lived experiences,” said Lesley McBain, AGB’s director of research.

The report further captures a range of data on board policies and practices. Readers can find data on executive sessions, board member education opportunities, methods of board member removal, annual giving information, and more. Further, the survey includes foundation-specific results on various policies and practices, such as operating budget, staffing data, and differences in foundation responsibilities across higher education.

“This survey is the only one of its kind,” said Henry Stoever, AGB president and CEO. “Through this report, our association’s ability to examine how boards have evolved and changed over 50 years provides insight on where higher education, and governance, is heading.”

A complimentary e-book version of Policies, Practices, and Composition is available for AGB members on the website. Further, this resource is available for order in hard-copy format.

AGB Announces a New Council for Student Success

AGB recently launched a new council, the Council for Student Success, in December 2021.

The Council for Student Success is one of seven councils that enhances AGB’s thought leadership. The other six councils similarly represent key leadership roles and priority areas: board chairs, board professionals, finance committee chairs, foundation leaders, presidents, and senior fellows.

AGB’s Council for Student Success leverages the experience, perspectives, and insights of its members with active leadership roles for the development of AGB expertise designed to strengthen strategic board governance across higher education. The group comprises 21 higher education leaders led by Lisa Foss, AGB senior consultant and vice president for planning and engagement and chief strategy officer at St. Cloud University. The council will regularly convene to discuss the strategic priorities across higher education and includes representatives from a range of institutional types including public and private, large and small, single institution and multi-campus system, two- and four-year, religious and secular, and domestic and international. This diversity affords the group a broad pool of experiences that help inform AGB about the obstacles and macro-level trends that governing boards face. In turn, AGB leverages its advisory groups to create tools and resources that benefit more than 2,000 institutions and 40,000 members.

“Our council members generously agree to lend their time and talent to advancing strategic governance across higher education,” said Henry Stoever, AGB president and CEO. “Alongside the AGB board of directors, AGB consultants, and other board governance experts, the AGB Council for Student Success ensures that boards across the country are receiving leading and practical guidance on salient topics throughout the year. These council members help to ensure that we are aware of not only to what’s going on at that moment, but also what they need to know from AGB to lead with confidence and knowledge in the boardroom. It’s a crucial partnership and I appreciate their hard work.”

AGB Files Several Amicus Briefs with Other Higher Education Associations

Over the past several months, AGB and 18 other associations have filed several amicus briefs (four as of December 1, with more pending) in support of institutions of higher education to push back on a false narrative that the onset of COVID-19 in the spring 2020 created a financial windfall for colleges and universities. More than 300 tuition-refund class action lawsuits have been filed against institutions, and our hope is that these briefs will help educate various federal circuit courts about the impact that COVID-19 had on students, faculty, and staff. It is critical that the courts dismiss the charges, which aim to extract vast sums from institutions. “This putative class action lawsuit—and others like it—alleges that colleges and universities somehow ‘profit[ed] from COVID-19’ and received ‘an enormous windfall,’” states the brief filed August 27 in a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit involving New York University. But the brief emphasizes the fallacy of that premise: “Far from ‘an enormous windfall,’ COVID-19 stressed tight budgets and exacerbated the financial challenges colleges and universities already faced.”

Welcome New AGB Members

California Indian Nations College

California State University-Northridge Foundation

California University of Science and Medicine

Central Washington University Foundation

Columbia-Greene Community College

Community College of Rhode Island Foundation

Kansas Board of Regents

Kellogg Community College

Madison College Foundation

Morris Brown College

Ohio Dominican University

Owens Community College Foundation

Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

Quincy University

The College of New Jersey Foundation

The Fort Lewis College Foundation

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents

University of the District of Columbia Foundation, Inc.

Wilberforce University

*These are new AGB members who joined between September 25 through December 6, 2021.

Upcoming Book from AGB

The following new book will be released by AGB this January. Visit to access e-books, which are a free benefit included in your AGB membership

Endowment Management for Higher Education, Second Edition

By Nicole Wellmann Kraus, with Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg and Jay A. Yoder

Higher education endowments are an indispensable resource for covering higher costs, strengthening financial resilience, supporting important campus initiatives, providing financial aid to students, and keeping higher education affordable. Because of the importance of these assets in the revenue mix for colleges and universities, the work of a college or university investment committee member has never been more important for boosting or preserving investment returns. Opportunities to beat the market are growing scarcer, however, while the opportunities for costly missteps mount.

In Endowment Management for Higher Education, Second Edition, Nicole Wellmann Kraus advances understanding of effective strategic oversight of endowments to strengthen the prospects for investment success and institutional financial health, and sheds light on the demands of a sector in disruption. The revised edition includes a new chapter on ESG investing to reflect the increasing emphasis on mission- and values-oriented investment policies while addressing the value of a clear process for determining the best approach to responsible investing that fits the needs of each institution. Newly updated are chapters on best endowment management practices, the investment policy statement, portfolio construction, hiring a CIO/OCIO, and risk management.

Upcoming Events

Engaging Boards in Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)
January 19, 2022          Virtual

Improving Government Relations in Public Higher Ed: Session 11 of the Strategic Transformation Workshop Series
January 26, 2022          Virtual

Foundation Leadership Forum
Jan. 30–Feb. 1, 2022      Orlando, FL

Modern Strategic Planning in Public Higher Ed: Session 12 of the Strategic Transformation Workshop Series
February 23, 2022        Virtual

2022 Board Professionals Conference
March 29–31, 2022       Virtual professionals-conference/

Subscribe to AGB Podcasts

Visit and listen to recent episodes on Higher Education Business Models Under Stress, foundation-institution partnerships, and student success.

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