Presidents Governance Academy Explores Best Ways to Develop an Effective Governing Board

Richard Cook stands in front of two flipboards on easels speaking to participants seated at roundtables
CIC’s 2019 Presidents Governance Academy was facilitated by Richard T. (Tom) Ingram, senior advisor for president-board relations, CIC, and former president, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges; and (standing) Richard J. Cook, president emeritus, Allegheny College (PA).

Eighteen presidents from a wide array of CIC member colleges and universities participated in the sixth Presidents Governance Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 3–4, just prior to the 2019 Presidents Institute.

The Academy explored how presidents must take the lead on board and trustee education, how certain governance policies and practices can significantly affect trustee and board conduct, and how a president and board leadership can work together successfully to implement change. Discussions focused on topics such as the characteristics of high-performing boards, committee structures and work, meeting agendas, new trustee orientation programs, and effective trustee, board, and presidential performance reviews. Participants also discussed trustee philanthropy, shared governance, and state-of-the-art bylaws.

Academy facilitators Richard (Tom) Ingram, CIC senior adviser for president-board relations, and former president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and Richard J. Cook, president emeritus of Allegheny College (PA), emphasized the interdependent relationship between governing board and presidential performance, and between the contributions of high-performing boards and institutional success.

Each president left the Academy with two critiques of his or her institution’s board bylaws—one written by an Academy facilitator and another written by a participating president. Participants also received a book of carefully selected articles and other materials that are immediately applicable.

“I found the Presidents Governance Academy to be a wonderful development opportunity. I enjoyed Ingram’s and Cook’s knowledge and facilitation and deeply appreciated learning with my fellow presidents. Most importantly, I left with a plan to improve my work with our board of trustees,” remarked Mary Ann Gawelek, president of Lourdes University (OH).

David Finegold, president of Chatham University (PA), said, “The Academy combines a range of useful insights from top governance experts with a collegial environment among the presidents taking part. The program encourages frank discussion of key challenges and possible solutions.”

The Presidents Governance Academy is supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. CIC is developing plans for the 2020 Academy, which will take place January 3–4 in conjunction with the 2020 Presidents Institute.

View additional information about the 2019 program.

2019 Presidents Governance Academy Participants


Alma College (MI)
Jeff Abernathy, President

Cabrini University (PA)
Donald B. Taylor, President

Chatham University (PA)
David Finegold, President

Ferrum College (VA)
David L. Johns, President

Fresno Pacific University (CA)
Joseph Jones, President

Goshen College (IN)
Rebecca Stoltzfus, President

Illinois Wesleyan University
Eric Jensen, President

King University (TN)
Alexander Whitaker IV, President

Lebanon Valley College (PA)
Lewis Thayne, President
Lourdes University (OH)
Mary Ann Gawelek, President

Montreat College (NC)
Paul J. Maurer, President

Muskingum University (OH)
Susan S. Hasseler, President

Ohio Dominican University
Robert A. Gervasi, President

Pacific Union College (CA)
Robert A. Cushman, Jr., President

Roberts Wesleyan College (NY)
Deana L. Porterfield, President

Saint Francis University (PA)
Malachi Van Tassell, TOR, President

St. Bonaventure University (NY)
Dennis R. DePerro, President

St. Norbert College (WI)
Brian J. Bruess, President



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