In the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday, Partners' executive director Stacie Gordon weighed in on the role of public university governing boards in ensuring public accountability, responding to a recent article addressing a prior debate over university priorities at Virginia's flagship university.
In the op-ed, Gordon makes the case for empowered governing boards that keep public universities in line with public interest through effective oversight and thoughtful leadership. The op-ed follows the announcement earlier this month of Governor Glenn Youngkin's (R-VA) first appointments to the governing boards of Virginia's public universities and the State Board for Community Colleges.
The priorities of Virginia’s public universities should be synonymous with those of the public it exists to serve — citizens of the commonwealth who have invested billions of dollars in creating and sustaining them. But without adequate oversight and public accountability in university governance, priorities are left to the ambition of unelected administrators.
To keep Virginia’s universities aligned with public interest, those representing citizens must be ready to intervene and hold them accountable. [...]
Appointed by the governor, these boards exist to hold our public universities accountable to Virginians by overseeing schools’ leadership. Trustees owe their primary fiduciary responsibility to the public, not to college administrators. [...]
Board members are not there to simply rubber stamp the agendas of university administrators. They should feel empowered to provide tough love and push back to ensure university decision-making is serving public interest.