College Governing Boards Should Be Caring, Loyal, and Obedient!

Dear Commons Community,

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges released a new set of guidelines for university trustees. The guidelines stress three major duties: care, loyality, and obedience. Here is the announcement as reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Saying that governance is “at a crossroads,” the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges on Tuesday released new guidance stressing that university trustees be loyal to their institution, among other things. The document, a “statement on the fiduciary duties of governing-board members,” outlines three main duties for board members: care, loyalty, and obedience.

The 11-page statement is “designed as a tool,” it reads, “to orient board members to the elements of fiduciary duty and to recommend proven practices for translating those duties into effective board conduct.”

The document comes amid a heated conversation about the bounds of the trustee in higher education. That discussion has been loudest in the University of Texas system, where the regent Wallace L. Hall Jr. has led a prolonged and expensive crusade to shed light on spending and admissions practices at the Austin flagship.”

The other infamous example was at the University of Virginia in 2012, when board leaders grew so frustrated with Teresa A. Sullivan’s performance as president that they forced her out without so much as a meeting of the full governing body. They provided little public explanation for their action but privately expressed misgivings about the pace at which the university was exploring online education. (Amid a public outcry, Ms. Sullivan was rehired a little more than two weeks after her ouster.)


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