Presidents Governance Academy to Empower Presidents for Effective Board Leadership

In recent years, presidents and trustees of private colleges and universities have faced unusual pressures as they have worked to balance short-term institutional needs with long-term strategic goals. Strains on presidents and governing boards can result in adverse consequences for the institutions they serve—and for presidential tenures. The roots of these problems are sometimes attributed to conflicting personalities or personal styles but are more traceable to unhelpful board cultures, norms, or structures—that is, misalignment with best governance principles, policies, and practices.

To help address these issues, CIC will offer its fifth Presidents Governance Academy January 3–4, 2018, in Marco Island, Florida, immediately preceding the 2018 Presidents Institute. The intensive and highly participatory workshop will focus on the president’s role in strengthening president-board relations, aligning board bylaws with principles of good governance, making bylaws more effective, and sustaining a high-performing board of trustees.

Richard T. (Tom) Ingram, CIC senior advisor 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), again will lead the program.

The Academy is unique in its exclusive emphasis on the perspective of the independent college president. And while it respects the distinction between the president’s and the board’s authority, the Academy builds on the premise that the president must have the tools and the mandate to lead an effective governing board to advance the institution. The Academy will address several essential topics:

  • Desirable and undesirable bylaws provisions;
  • Board committee structures;
  • Committee on trusteeship and executive committee roles and responsibilities;
  • Board membership issues and recruitment;
  • Term limits for trustees and officers;
  • Performance reviews of both the president and the governing board;
  • Strategies for trustee education and board development;
  • Effective board meetings and board retreats; and
  • Shared governance with the faculty.

Participants in the previous offerings of the Academy have found the advance readings, facilitator presentations, individualized critiques of board bylaws, and discussions with presidential colleagues of great practical value. “The Academy’s focus on individual bylaws was essential, and the work on board and presidential assessment was vital,” commented Pamela J. Gunter-Smith, president of York College of Pennsylvania. Mary Eileen O’Brien, OP, president of Dominican College (NY), emphasized, “I strongly recommend the Presidents Governance Academy to other presidents. The discussion about the increasing importance of the committee on trustees was particularly helpful.”

Open to experienced CIC Institutional Member presidents but limited to 20 participants, the Presidents Governance Academy builds on the governance issues broached during CIC’s Presidents Institute and New Presidents Program and will be especially valuable to those who are at least a few years into their presidencies.

The Presidents Governance Academy is generously supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, making it possible for CIC member presidents to participate in the program for little cost. For more information, visit the Presidents Governance Academy website.