Comments on: College trustees are board members, and then some Wed, 06 Mar 2013 09:49:44 +0000 hourly 1 By: PeterMelzer Tue, 29 Nov 2011 12:54:50 +0000 I commend the author for her valuable insights. Institutions entrusted with the education of a nation’s leaders must be overseen by minds capable and willing to identify impending failure and respond succinctly and appropriately.

Alas, hardly any board of trust saved its institution of higher learning from risky investments that were supposed to fund the extravagant infrastructure expansion of the past twenty years and helped prevent the catastrophic portfolio losses in the financial crisis of 2008.

Image and perceptions attained overarching importance. Conformism and emulation are ubiquitous. Everybody seeks comfort in copying the Ivy League. Monolithic thinking reigns. The educational bubble is still to burst.

Read more here: 2/financial-crisis-higher-education.html

By: M.C.McBride Mon, 28 Nov 2011 21:38:16 +0000 That was an interesting article with interesting posts.

By: NigelCameron Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:43:18 +0000 This is an important call for serious fiduciary responsibility on the part of boards that tend, for various reasons, to behave more in an advisory than a governance role. There are many reasons for this, which I see as an extension of a general problem of nonprofit boards. My direct experience was as an officer of a small private university who attended many board meetings and met extremely a smattering of smart business people, some from Fortune 100 companies, who entirely lost their fiduciary senses and saw themselves operating basically as a booster club for the president. On another occasion I reviewed the strategic plans (ahem, “strategic plans”) of a network of c. 100 private colleges. 57 I read and tried to digest for the network. Perhaps 3 or 4 would be recognizable as serious efforts at strategy in a business environment. None was much good. Most had board endorsement of one kind or another. Many were essentially presidential efforts at giving cover for change when they came into office, or quelling faculty/board dissent (“help get thus monkey off my back,” said one president to me in an interview). I am happy to believe that in larger private and in public institutions things are very different. They are different species; but I suspect the same genera.

By: ohcsolutions Sat, 26 Nov 2011 18:00:31 +0000 I believe your post will go a long way in supporting the call for a more serious approach to Board Development in universities.

Personally, your post sets me up nicely for my first engagement as a trustee of a University in London. So thank you for a great post.

By: MarcyMurninghan Fri, 25 Nov 2011 20:23:43 +0000 This is a welcome addition to a conversation that’s long overdue. Higher education governance and accountability has remained immune from public scrutiny, largely, in my view, due to the mistaken belief that the stature accorded such institutions (and their people) exempts them somehow (miraculously) from abusing or misusing their power.

It’s a mystery / mastery thing.

But as we’ve seen with other governing boards where the assumption is, “They know what they’re doing. They’re smarter and more successful than I am,” this just ain’t so. Fallibility knows no bounds.

Even as the governance structures vary (as do appointment methods – the governing boards for some public universities are elected, as is the case in several US states, including my home state of Michigan), the core obligations do not. At a time when commercialization seems to have trumped purpose, when market values drive decision-making far more than they should, when far too much autonomy lies with academic departments, and when current and future digital alternatives will pop the current higher-ed-industrial-complex bubble — really, how can we continue to tolerate escalating prices when higher ed’s mechanics and outcomes remain so blurry, a black box of uncertainty? — let’s make this the beginning of a sustained and serious effort to assure good governance in these agents of civilization.

Bravo, Lucy!