Institutional Governance

Trustee Empowerment

In its 2018 survey of college and university board members about pressing issues in higher education, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) found that board members at public institutions were most concerned about the following:

1. Price of higher education for students and their families
2. Decrease in state funding for higher education
3. Financial sustainability of higher education institutions

In almost every state, governing boards of public colleges and universities are appointed by the governor. In some states, they’re elected. Regardless of how they’re selected, we think board members should have the resources they need to make more informed decisions about college affordability and fulfill their responsibilities to students, families, and the taxpaying public. We support public policies and institutional practices that make that happen.

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A Framework for Empowered and Accountable Public Governing Boards

We envision a model for empowered and accountable governing boards at public colleges and universities to help increase affordability, educational quality, and student success. The pillars of this framework include strong institutional oversight, democratization of information, transparency, and responsiveness to consumers and the public. Action within each of these pillars can be accomplished through voluntary institutional efforts, accreditation standards, and public policies.

1. Strong Institutional Oversight
a. Mechanisms for exercising fiduciary oversight of the institution
b. Mechanisms for defining and regularly evaluating its responsibilities as a governing board
c. Mechanisms for regularly monitoring institutional performance


2. Democratization of Information
a. Knowledge of revenues and expenses at the institution, program, and unit level to inform conversations regarding return on investment
b. Knowledge of institutional and industry market context to inform conversations regarding smarter pricing
c. Knowledge of financial aid at the institution and program level, including typical grant or scholarship amounts, total student loan debt, repayment rates, and default rates disaggregated by select student characteristics to inform conversations regarding value
d. Training on college cost reduction best practices and trends
e. Access to impartial data and outside experts

3. Transparency
a. Public notice and accessibility
b. Sunshine on decision-making processes and votes

4. Responsiveness to Consumers and Public
a. Duty to students, families, and taxpayers clearly articulated
b. Accepts student and citizen input to inform decision-making  

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Questions about College Affordability

Members of governing boards of public colleges and universities should have the resources they need to make more informed decisions about college affordability. We have prepared questions that we think board members should ask themselves and the institutions they govern.
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State Policies

Governing Board Training
Some states require training for higher education governing board members to have training related to their roles and responsibilities. Click on the links below to learn more about specific requirements for each state.

State

Trustee Training Requirement

Arkansas

Yes, law

Florida

Yes, regulation

Illinois

Yes, law

Kentucky

Yes, law

Oklahoma

Yes, law

Tennessee

Yes, law

Texas

Yes, law

Virginia

Yes, law

West Virginia

Yes, law

Public Engagement
Some states require public comment prior to a tuition and fee increase being approved. Click on the links below to learn more about specific requirements for each state.

State

Public Comment Required Before Tuition Increase

Entity

Alaska

Yes

Alaska Board of Regents

Arizona

Arizona Board of Regents

California

University of California and California State University

District of Columbia

University of the District of Columbia

Hawaii

University of Hawaii System

Indiana

Ball State University, Indiana University, Indiana State University, Purdue University, University of Southern Indiana

Missouri

Each Missouri public institution of higher education

Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education

Texas

Texas Institutions of Higher Education

Utah

Utah State System of Higher Education

Washington

Yes

State universities, the Regional universities, and The Evergreen State Colleg

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Promising Practices

Some states and institutions voluntarily adopt practices designed to increase affordability for more students and families. Click on the links below to learn more.

· Ohio State University
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Purdue University
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Data and Evidence

Trustee Votes Project
The Trustee Votes Project, which has been initiated as a pilot in Virginia, takes available (but often hard to decipher) public data from each institution on the tuition and fee votes of its board members. This database allows anyone to track the public votes of public officials in Virginia who vote on tuition and fee, including board member identification, affiliated institution, vote, percentage change in tuition rate, and appointing governor.

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Partners Staff

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Board of Directors

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