2018 Presidents Governance Academy 1/3/2018 1/3/2018 1/3/20181/4/20181/4/20181/4/2018 Diplomat Hotel Hollywood, FL

About the Academy

In recent years, the circumstances under which private colleges and universities operate have caused unusual pressures on both presidents and trustees as they seek to balance short-term needs with long-term strategic judgments. The strains on presidents and governing boards sometimes have been severe, often resulting in adverse consequences for the colleges they serve—and presidential tenures. The roots of those problems are sometimes attributed to conflicting personalities or personal styles but are more often traceable to board culture, norms, and structure—that is, misalignment with the best governance principles, policies, and practices.

The Presidents Governance Academy is unique in its exclusive focus on the perspective of the independent college president. While it respects the distinction between the president’s and the board’s authority, the Academy starts with the premise that the president must have the tools and the mandate to advance efforts, with board leaders, to develop an effective governing board.

CIC is grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for its support of this program.

“I strongly recommend the Presidents Governance Academy to other presidents. The discussion about the increasing importance of the committee on trustees was particularly helpful.”
—Mary Eileen O’Brien, OP, President, Dominican College (NY)

“The program far exceeded my expectations. In particular, I appreciated the variety of viewpoints reflected in the advance readings along with consideration of board assessment practices and procedures during the Academy.”
—Laurie M. Hamen, President, Mount Mercy University

Principles and Benefits

The Academy’s approach is based on these principles:
  • An effective governing board is necessary for both the institution and the president to be successful. The performance of each is dependent on the effectiveness of the other two.
  • Presidential leadership is essential to strengthening board effectiveness. Presidents who desire a truly high-performing governing board understand that they must take the lead in the education of trustees and on board development initiatives.
  • The performance of individual trustees and of boards of trustees as a whole will excel only if the formal policies, desired practices, and performance standards are articulated in bylaws and other key governance documents.
  • How the board is led and organized to accomplish its work is at least as important as the credentials and experience of individual trustees if the board is to be “more than the sum of its parts.”
  • Best practices in the governance of nonprofit institutions, although better understood today, remain more art than science. Experience has shown that presidents must be both knowledgeable and skillful in order to improve performance.
  • Efforts to strengthen board commitment and performance, when and where needed, is an ongoing presidential responsibility.

Who Should Participate?

CIC’s annual Presidents Governance Academy is a two-day program for college presidents who wish to strengthen and sustain a high-performing board of trustees. The Academy provides the opportunity to learn about both time-tested and new approaches to ensure supportive relations with the board and its leaders and to improve board composition, organization, and effectiveness. The Academy is open to experienced CIC member presidents and will be especially helpful to those who are at least a few years into their presidencies.


How Will I Benefit?

The Academy is an intensive and highly participatory program. To provide for candid exchange, participation is limited to 20 presidents. To jumpstart thinking about the ideas discussed in the Academy, participants are provided in advance with a binder of resources including articles, book chapters, checklists, and other materials. Over two days, presidents will learn from the experienced Academy leaders about best practices in board governance, discuss case examples of governance challenges and conundrums with other presidents, and engage in meaningful dialogue about practical solutions.

One feature of the program that has proven especially valuable is an individualized critique of the board bylaws for each participant, who will receive a detailed assessment of this important document by one of the program leaders and will have an opportunity for in-depth discussion with another president. In addition, presidents will begin to draft a trustee education and board development plan for their own institution. Finally, participants will have the opportunity to consult privately by phone with the Academy’s leaders throughout the year.

“The two critiques of my board’s bylaws—one by a program facilitator and one by a colleague president—were helpful, timely, and relevant and will be a great resource to share with appropriate trustees.”
—Steven E. Titus, President, Iowa Wesleyan College

“The Academy’s focus on individual bylaws was essential, and the work on board and presidential assessment was vital.”

—Pamela J. Gunter-Smith, President, York College of Pennsylvania

Discussion 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
  • Shared governance with the faculty




  • Richard T. (Tom) Ingram
    Richard T. (Tom) Ingram
    Council of Independent Colleges
  • Richard J. Cook
    Richard J. Cook
    Allegheny College

“The facilitators were a strong pairing, and the exchange between the two encouraged robust engagement among all participants.”

—Rock Jones, President, Ohio Wesleyan University

Hotel and Registration

The Presidents Governance Academy will be offered January 3–4, 2018, immediately preceding the 2018 Presidents Institute, and is limited to 20 presidents. To provide for candid exchange among participants and because of space limitations, additional institutional officers, trustees, spouses, and others are not eligible to participate. Thanks to the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, the registration fee is only $400, which includes the program, all meals and refreshments, resource materials, and telephone consultations with the Academy’s leaders throughout the year.

The costs of lodging and transportation to the site of the Academy are additional. Lodging is at the Diplomat Hotel, in Hollywood, Florida, site of the 2018 Presidents Institute. Participants will receive a discount code for the special CIC rate of $239 per night, single or double occupancy, after they register for the Academy.

The registration deadline is December 1, 2017, but participants are encouraged to register early, as space is limited.

Questions? Please contact Harold V. Hartley III, CIC senior vice president, at (202) 466-7230 or hhartley@cic.nche.edu.

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