Dear Board Member, Congratulations on your new president! Just like the campus, the board is also now facing a transition. This letter offers some unsolicited advice about how the board can best facilitate the transition of the new president.
- Recognize that the new president isn't the previous president. Obvious enough, but understand that even after an intensive search process, there is still much to learn about the new president. At the same time, the new president will likely have his or her own expectations for the board, as well as different models for what an “engaged” board is.
- Remain focused on policy and out of management. Trustees expecting a certain type of management style should be careful not to second guess the newly appointed president or get involved in administrative issues they think should be done differently. Remember the old adage, “noses in, fingers out.”
- Take advantage of the transition to ask questions about how well the board is working. Boards often develop (or fall into) habits that worked well with one person, but might not work as well with a different individual. Boards can use this time of transition to focus on their own work, asking questions about how they might need to change to better support the new leader and the needs of the institution.
- Help open doors. If your president is like 75% of other new hires, she or he is new to campus. The board can play an important role in making new external connections by introducing and establishing the president among key external stakeholders.
Again, congratulations. Please let me know if and how AGB might be of assistance. Peter Eckel Vice President, Programs and Research