AGB Urges Trustees to Back Shared Governance

October 25, 2017

The Board of Directors of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges released a statement reminding trustees of the importance of shared governance. "In higher education’s volatile environment, shared governance is essential," the statement says. "It adds substantial value to institutional progress and innovation. In fact, responsibility and accountability for addressing colleges’ and universities’ thorniest challenges often rest with multiple parties. Effective shared governance is about more than who is responsible for what. At its best, shared governance is about how key constituents in institutional communities -- traditionally faculty, administrators and board members -- engage in achieving a commonly supported mission."

The statement is based on a 2016 AGB study of shared governance and includes four principles for trustees concerning shared governance: boards should not only understand but champion its value; it must be based on a culture of meaningful engagement; it requires a constant commitment by campus and board leaders; and policies related to shared governance should be reviewed periodically to ensure their effectiveness.

Hans-Joerg Tiede, senior program officer for tenure, academic freedom and shared governance at the American Association of University Professors, who was involved in discussions about the statement, said it “makes a very strong case to trustees as to why shared governance is important for the proper functioning of institutions of higher education.” AGB, AAUP and the American Council on Education co-wrote a 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities, which the new AGB statement reinforces.

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