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Schedule At A Glance

We're excited about the conference program that we hope will allow you to expand your expertise, enhance your governance experience, and be more effective in your role.  Stay tuned for more program updates. 

Sunday, April 14

12:15 pm – 3:15 pmGovernance in the Canadian Context
3:30 – 4:15 pmSpecial Meetings:
• Leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
• LGBTQIA Members
4:30 – 4:45 pm Welcome and Opening Remarks
• David Miles, trustee, Drake University; chair, AGB Board of Directors
• Richard Legon, trustee, Spelman College; president, AGB
4:45 – 5:45 pm Opening Keynote: Leading for Creativity
What can your institution learn about developing a culture of innovation from Disney? Based on 25 years with the company, most recently as vice president of innovation & creativity, Duncan Wardle will examine some of the key techniques and behaviors Disney’s board and executive leadership have developed to encourage creativity across the organization.
6:00 – 7:30 pm Opening Cocktail Reception

Monday, April 15

Special Feature Sessions

Student Retention in Public Institutions

​​​​​​The pressures around student retention are growing and becoming deeply complex, particularly in public institutions. In this special two-part series participants will learn the lay of the land around this important issue, from an introduction to key terminology to the realities of student preparedness today, the impact of campus climate, and the "dollars and sense" of student retention. Ultimately, participants will dig deeper on what board members need to know to ask value-added questions on this essential topic.

Leadership Strategies for Board Chairs of Independent Colleges and Universities

It is hard to imagine a time when boards of higher education institutions have needed more effective leadership. Board chairs must lead the charge, with the support of vice chairs, committee chairs, and other board leaders. What will be your leadership legacy? Back by popular demand, this session provides practical suggestions to enhance board engagement, productivity, and cohesiveness; greater insight into key issues board leaders are likely to confront; and ultimately, strategies for board success.

Monday, April 15

7:00 – 8:15 am Breakfast Available
8:30 – 9:30 amConcurrent Sessions I: Master Classes & Governance Seminars
Master Classes focus in on a topic of strategic importance to higher education leaders. Experts in the field will speak for 40 minutes, allowing time for substantive exchange with the audience.
1. Top Strategic Issues: Where Boards Are Needed/ You know what the major challenges facing your institution are, but do you know what the board is accountable for, and how the board can have a positive impact when it comes to these issues? Starting with the framework of AGB’s Top Strategic Issues for Boards 2018-2019, presenters in this session will provide a succinct overview of how boards can, do, and should touch the big challenges, followed by an expanded Q&A period to help you get the answers you need.
2. Student Retention in Public Institutions (Part I)/ Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Once a student enters a college or a university, their persistence through completion of an educational program becomes a shared responsibility between them and the institution. But for a variety of reasons the pressures around student retention are growing and becoming deeply complex, particularly in public institutions. In this, the first in a sequence of two sessions, participants will learn the lay of the land around this important issue, from an introduction of key terminology to the realities of student preparedness today, the impact of campus climate, and the “dollars and sense” of student retention.
3. Higher Education for a Healthy Democracy/ The U.S. higher education system, in all of its diversity, is a product of democracy, having matured alongside the nation and its people over the course of nearly four centuries. Today, there is good evidence that colleges and universities contribute to the nation’s civic health, educating students for citizenship and contributing to economic and social well-being. Yet skepticism about the value of higher education, including its effectiveness as an engine of American democracy, is concerning. Grounded in AGB’s Guardians Initiative, this session will help board members to understand their roles as trustees of public purpose.
4. Deciphering Millennial Donors/ Findings from the 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy are shining a light on the philanthropic practices of wealthy millennials. This session, featuring a panel discussion on the implications of the findings of this year’s study, will help attendees understand how giving patterns are changing generationally, provide university and college foundations with guidance on how to prepare for increasingly diverse donor bases, and discuss how the priorities of these new “faces of philanthropy” will be reflected in the fundraising practices and governance processes of colleges and universities.
Governance Seminars provide interactive learning opportunities to help participants raise their board’s performance through highly effective policies and procedures.
5. The Work of a Fiduciary/ Legally, what must board members do, or not do? To whom do they owe a responsibility, for what are they accountable, and how should they determine whether they have met key standards? Back by popular demand, and appropriate for new board members and old hands alike, come to this session for a concise, practical primer on the fundamental legal responsibilities of boards.
6. Leadership Strategies for Board Chairs of Independent Colleges and Universities/ It is hard to imagine a time when boards of higher education institutions have needed more effective leadership. Board chairs must lead the charge, with the support of vice chairs, committee chairs, and other board leaders. What will be your leadership legacy? This session provides practical suggestions to enhance board engagement, productivity, and cohesiveness; greater insight into key issues board leaders are likely to confront; and ultimately, strategies for board success.
7. Getting the Most from Public-Private Partnerships/ Storied successes in public-private partnerships have opened the eyes of public university leaders to promising new opportunities. The potential is tantalizing for “P3” to infuse high-cost projects with financial flexibility, reduce risk to the institution, and—essentially—help an institution find a way to provide valuable services. But what should boards know about the landscape of P3 before approving new ventures? What is the role the board must play when considering P3 initiatives, and what are some best practices for fulfilling that role? In this session, participants will hear lessons learned by one of the nation’s earliest and most robust adopters of public-private partnerships.
9:45 – 10:45 amConcurrent Sessions II: Master Classes & Governance Seminars
Master Classes focus in on a topic of strategic importance to higher education leaders. Experts in the field will speak for 40 minutes, allowing time for substantive exchange with the audience.
1. Engaging Student Voices at the Highest Levels/ Students are essential to colleges and universities—at once customers, assets, and eventually products of higher education. Listening to their concerns and helping them achieve their aspirations is important at all levels of leadership. But, in contentious times, who is ultimately responsible for hearing students, what are sound practices from a governance perspective, and what does success look like in the board room?
2. Serving American Student Veterans/ Veterans are responsible in no small part for the growth and maturation of the U.S. higher education sector in the latter 20th century. But ten years following the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, with more than 5 million veterans under age 50, how well are colleges and universities serving student veterans? This session will unpack the special needs and contributions of veterans to campus environments, and the ways in which boards can ensure institutions are making a difference in their lives.
3. Succession Planning in the Age of New Expectations / Since 1986, the average age of chief executive officers of U.S. colleges and universities has risen a full ten years, from 52 to 62, and nearly one-quarter of today’s presidents arrived in the role following a prior presidency. Over the same period, the U.S. trustees ages 30-49 have declined from nearly 30% to less than 15%, and today the fastest-growing age group is 70 or older. Ensuring effective transition in leadership roles is essential to the board’s fiduciary duty of care. Come to this session to strengthen your vantage on the intergenerational shifts affecting boards and presidents, and more broadly how your board can make sure succession means success.
4. Student Demographic Shifts: What’s the Long View?/ What will student demand be for your institution in the next 7-10 years, and what can you do to prepare? Due to shifting birth rates and immigration patterns, beginning in 2026 the population of traditional-age students will fall nearly 15 percent in five years’ time in regions with the largest supply of higher education today. Hear from Nathan D. Grawe, researcher, author of Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education, and creator of the Higher Education Demand Index, as he forecasts student demand by location and institution type.
Governance Seminars provide interactive learning opportunities to help participants raise their board’s performance through highly effective policies and procedures.
5. Student Retention in Public Institutions (Part II)/ The Board’s Role in Trailblazing The board has a fundamental responsibility to ensure the institution has effective policies in place to drive student learning, satisfaction, and ultimately retention to graduation. But does your board understand your institution’s current strengths and weaknesses in the student life-cycle? Which opportunities could be around the corner, and what are the blindspots to beware? In this, the second of two sessions focused on student retention in public institutions, participants will dig deeper on what board members need to know to ask value-added questions on this essential topic.
6. Title IX: What Every Board Member Needs to Know/ While colleges and universities are not courts of law, each maintains policies for ensuring gender equity and dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct by students, faculty, and staff. Federal guidance in this area has become a moving target, with sharply divergent policy emerging from the U.S. Department of Education in late 2018. In which ways, and for what, are institutions accountable when it comes to sexual misconduct—and particularly, what is the role of the board?
7. Governance Assessment/ You assess each board member’s performance, and that of the full board, regularly and use the results thoughtfully. Your board conducts meaningful evaluations of the president’s performance. Your board maintains a highly informative set of institutional performance indicators. Within each of its assessment activities the board is well-studied and diligent. Yet, how can the board know how well governance is working overall? In this session, participants will examine what it means for a governing board to see the forest through the trees when it comes to assessment.
10:45 –11:15 amNetworking Break
11:15 am –12:15 pmConcurrent Sessions III: Master Classes & Governance Seminars
Master Classes focus in on a topic of strategic importance to higher education leaders. Experts in the field will speak for 40 minutes, allowing time for substantive exchange with the audience.
1. The Board’s Role in Cybersecurity/ Because cyberattacks can carry significant operational, financial, legal, and reputational risks for an institution, the effective oversight in this area is an important board responsibility. What is the full scope of that responsibility, and how might board members unfamiliar with the latest technological developments ensure nonetheless that the institution is acting with appropriately diligence when it comes to personal information, intellectual property, confidential records, and other data in its care?
2. University Research, Discovery, and Innovation / Since the second world war, much of the scientific progress produced in the United States has been made possible, in part or whole, by colleges and universities. Yet, the nature of academic research—and the outlook for continued national leadership in discovery and innovation—has changed over time. Research, unlike in teaching, or economic development, is increasingly perceived to be ancillary to the core purposes of higher education. Stemming from AGB’s Guardians Initiative, participants in this session will learn and discuss how board members can move university research forward as an essential driver of national and international progress.
3. Building Institutional Capacity to Serve Nontraditional Students/ According to recent research, students who have delayed enrollment, have dependents, attend part time, and/or are fully employed now represent nearly three-quarters of all U.S. college enrollments. These students’ diverse needs require institutions to be more versatile in their delivery of services, from housing and parking to financial aid, technology, course offerings, and more. In this session, participants will gain an understanding of the ways in which boards can ensure institutions are appropriately engaged in services that benefit nontraditional students, and how these students can ultimately strengthen the institution.
4. Becoming an “AGB Guardians City”: Innovative Approaches to Ensuring Higher Education’s Value Proposition
Governance Seminars provide interactive learning opportunities to help participants raise their board’s performance through highly effective policies and procedures.
5. Presidential Assessment in the Age of Enterprise Leadership/ Once an afterthought, many boards today understand not only the hiring but regular assessment of the work of their chief executive to be the most important responsibility of the board. Essential questions at this stage revolve around various approaches, tools, and timing. How and when can the board best set expectations with the president? How can expectations be adjusted as time goes on? What can your board do to refresh the routine? Come to this session to gain important insights about how presidential assessment can work for you.
6. Leveraging Diverse Trustee Perspectives and Ideologies/ Your board is becoming more diverse, by age, gender, race, geography, profession—congratulations! Now what? The benefits of a diverse board do not occur on their own. In this session, experts will offer helpful approaches and tactics to cultivate meaningful dialogue and constructive debate—especially among board members with different life experiences, knowledge-bases, and habits of thought.
7. Affiliations, Collaborations, and Mergers (Part I): Consortia/ Governing boards and chief executives are often keenly attuned to the competitive side of college and university governance, but planning for the future increasingly raises important questions about cooperation, as well. In this first of a two-part series, participants will gain an understanding of the spectrum of possibilities in this area, and the questions boards should be asking at each level of prospective collaboration.
8. Accreditation: Getting Value from Peer Review and Preserving Institutional Autonomy/ As questions about educational quality and institutional integrity heighten the tenor of debate over the value of a college education, accreditation is as essential as it has ever been. Without it, most institutions’ autonomy would be reduced and federal control increased. However, accreditation can sometimes seem little more than a pro forma exercise—or, on the other hand, an impediment to innovation. What is accreditation, what is it meant to accomplish, and how can the board ensure it contributes to institutional success? In this session, experts will reveal the hidden gems of board engagement with accreditation.
12:15 pmLunch
1:00 – 2:15 pm Afternoon Keynote: The Power of Teaching and Learning
Erin Gruwell, inspirational educator and author, has earned an award-winning reputation for her steadfast commitment to the future of education. By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she has transformed students’ lives. During this session you will hear about the work she did with the Freedom Writers, her ongoing efforts to inspire innovation in the classroom, and what it means to be in the business of changing lives.
2:30 – 4:00 pm Tabletop Conversations (45 minutes each)
3:30 - 4:15 pmInvitation-Only Nason Award Winners, their Guests, and Sponsors Reception
4:15 - 4:30 pmPresentation of Nason Awards
4:30 – 5:45 pm Plenary: Peering Around Corners: An Outlook for Higher Education
When a fragile economy and contentious geopolitical landscape are the order of the day, leaders need relevant information and clear, practical advice. Renowned for her accurate forecasting, this session features a conversation with business economist Kathleen Camilli. Building on more than two decades of accomplished private and public sector experience and armed with a solid foundation of global economic perspectives, Camilli has earned a reputation for distilling down the information overload and providing actionable wisdom.

Tuesday, April 16

Special Features Sessions

Special Breakfast for Women Trustees

A traditional strength of American higher education governance is that board members are the very leaders of society their students must someday become. Yet, even as women have surpassed men in degree attainment at every level of postsecondary education, their numbers have stagnated in senior leadership roles in colleges and universities, including within board rooms. Women's voices are needed in full and robust ways at the highest levels of leadership. AGB invites women trustees to this exclusive session to discuss shared experiences and opportunities to bring women's voices more fully to bear as an institutional asset.

Working with the Faculty (and Their Handbooks)

​​​​​​In times of scarce resources, shifting student markets, and fickle support from elected officials, some of the board’s most important decisions can reveal discomfort and misunderstanding with an institution’s faculty. Faculty and boards speak in tribal dialects, and while the president or chancellor can often be an effective go-between, a direct working relationship between the board and the faculty is indispensable. What can boards to when the dialogue with faculty gets harder, and what can they do to smooth the way for strong governance, effective leadership, and constructive engagement with faculty?

Tuesday, April 16

7:00 – 8:15 am Breakfast Available
8:30 – 9:30 am Concurrent Sessions IV: Master Classes & Governance Seminars
Master Classes focus in on a topic of strategic importance to higher education leaders. Experts in the field will speak for 40 minutes, allowing time for substantive exchange with the audience.
1. Finding the Curriculum of the Future: Student Need, Market Appeal, and Institutional Mission Today, /students’ sense of their own educational need is strong, and it often departs from what institutions have traditionally delivered, or sold. Boards can tip the scales to ensure an institution’s academic planning is something more than a rote exercise. Come to this session to learn where and how the board can best help its institution out of an academic planning rut.
2. Strategic Approaches to Graduate and Professional Education/ Graduate education is not only a key element of many institutions’ missions but is often important because of the revenue it generates and the teaching and research support it enables. Shifts in student demand for advanced degrees in business and law, lengthy times to degree in many fields, and ultimately the rising costs being born by these programs mean that many boards must attend to the work of the institution in areas that have sometimes received less attention. Come to this session to learn about the challenges affecting graduate programs and professional fields today, and how the board can fulfill its responsibilities in these areas well.
3. Embracing Educational Equity (Part I): What Every Board Member Should Know/ Boards and presidents are under intense pressure to ensure institutions offer students of all backgrounds a full opportunity to learn. Yet there is still a great deal of confusion about what equity means in the context of a college or university and how it contributes to broader institutional goals. The first session in this special two-part series will unpack how boards’ responsibilities include ensuring educational equity. Attendees will leave with a solid understanding of why equity is important to issues such as institutional mission, student learning and success, faculty retention, accreditation, and why and how boards in particular are accountable for equity in higher education.
Governance Seminars provide interactive learning opportunities to help participants raise their board’s performance through highly effective policies and procedures.
4. Affiliations, Partnerships, and Mergers (Part II): Getting Your Board Ready
5. Results-Driven Change: Innovative Board Structures /An adage in board governance is that before the bus can move down the road, the right people need to be in the right seats. But what if your bus doesn’t have the right seats? Many boards have reconfigured themselves to achieve better focus, healthier culture, and stronger performance. Come to this session to gain key insights on whether and how best to undertake restructuring initiatives.
6. Having a Candid Conversation on the Business Model
7. Revitalizing Public University Relationships with Supporting Foundations/ For most public universities, the assets managed by independently incorporated supporting foundations are growing in size and importance, if not already vital. Foundations often find themselves at the heart of university innovation, either funding entrepreneurial activities, or else directly executing outsourced operations in development, real estate, alumni services, and more. At a time when many universities face slower revenue growth and rising costs, foundations offer essential opportunities to advance institutions. But to consistently realize the greatest contributions of foundations, the respective fiduciary bodies of universities and foundations must attend carefully to the relationship between their organizations. Come to this session to learn more about what this looks like—and how to go about this work most effectively.
9:45 am – 10:50 am Plenary: An Anatomy of Good Board Governance: Implications for the Work of the Board
The distinction between policy and administration continues to challenge boards and presidents in meeting their respective and collaborative responsibilities. Board engagement and presidential leadership require constant negotiation based on mutual expectations. When does a board exert more influence than is welcomed by institution leadership; how can a board best convey those issues that it chooses to decide; and how does board culture influence governance effectiveness? In late 2018, AGB published An Anatomy of Good Board Governance in Higher Education, which is intended to provide clear, comprehensive guidance as to what makes a highly effective board in today’s environment. In this final plenary session of the conference, an accomplished panel of governance experts will discuss the implications of this new guidance for the work of boards.
11:00 – 12:00 pm Concurrent Sessions V: Master Classes & Governance Seminars
Master Classes focus in on a topic of strategic importance to higher education leaders. Experts in the field will speak for 40 minutes, allowing time for substantive exchange with the audience.
1. Big Data Everywhere: Predictive Analytics as a Tool for Student Success/ The quintessential idea of the university is of an organization that is involved in an ever-expanding “universe” of academic work… with undergraduates, age 18-22, who are confident and single-minded about college. Reality is often closer to the opposite: institutions must be judicious with scarce resources, even as students become more diverse. Big data has changed everything from retail to national politics in the 21st century, so what should boards know about the experiences of early adopters in leveraging big data for student advising and student learning?
2. Understanding Endowments/ U.S. colleges and universities hold over $500 billion in endowment assets—a sum whose purposes and value are poorly understood by an array of stakeholders. The urgency of greater public understanding of these funds was punctuated in 2018, when federal tax reforms that included a first-of-its-kind tax on private college and university endowments. Beginning with the findings of new research from AGB and the Urban Institute, in partnership with TIAA Institute, this session will address the question: what should every university and system foundation board member know and be prepared to discuss with stakeholders when it comes to endowments?
3. A Conversation on Board Leadership/ Each year, AGB recognizes a select few members with its John W. Nason Award, honoring boards that go above and beyond what boards should do, and instead take board-driven measures to advance their institutions in ways that truly matter. Come to this session to hear reflections and lessons learned by this year’s award winners, and discover what you can do to encourage effective, thoughtful, and courageous oversight by your board.
Governance Seminars provide interactive learning opportunities to help participants raise their board’s performance through highly effective policies and procedures.
4. Embracing Educational Equity (part II): Board-Centered Approaches that Enhance Institutional Inclusion / How might institutions foster a more intentionally welcoming environment that encourages and supports an equity-centered campus, and how can boards ensure the institution is advancing appropriately on this front? While the term equity has become commonplace in board discussions, boards must become more than conversant in that set of issues to be appropriately accountable for the long-term success of their institutions. National experts will offer a clear, practical framework for equity as it pertains to board decision-making, composition, on-boarding, and review of key educational indicators. Presenters will review research-informed strategies and best practices for boards to get beyond platitudes and treat equity as a strategic asset for mission success.
5. Working with the Faculty (and Their Handbooks)/ In times of scarce resources, shifting student markets, and fickle support from elected officials, some of the board’s most important decisions can reveal discomfort and misunderstanding with an institution’s faculty. Faculty and boards speak in tribal dialects, and while the president or chancellor can often be an effective go-between, a direct working relationship between the board and the faculty is indispensable. What can boards to when the dialogue with faculty gets harder, and what can they do to smooth the way for strong governance, effective leadership, and constructive engagement with faculty?
6. SPECIAL TOWN HALL DISCUSSION: HIGHER EDUCATION PUBLIC POLICY What might be projected for higher education in the 116th Congress, given that control of Congress is now split between the two major political parties? Can bi-partisanship emerge on any issue, or will bickering, contentiousness, and stalemate prevail? What regulations and rule-making can colleges and universities expect from the Department of Education, and what guidance may come from the Department of the Treasury on the higher education provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act? Meanwhile, several issues are likely to emerge in the states. What happens (or doesn’t happen) in the next two years may significantly affect the success of colleges and universities, students and families, and other stakeholders. You’re your peers in a conversation with leading experts to get the latest insights.