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.
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
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
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.
Trustee Training Requirement
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.
Public Comment Required Before Tuition Increase
Alaska Board of Regents
Arizona Board of Regents
University of California and California State University
District of Columbia
University of the District of Columbia
University of Hawaii System
Ball State University, Indiana University, Indiana State University, Purdue University, University of Southern Indiana
Each Missouri public institution of higher education
The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education
Texas Institutions of Higher Education
Utah State System of Higher Education
State universities, the Regional universities, and The Evergreen State College
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.