In recent months, there has been much media coverage of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs.) Unfortunately, the specifics can be discouraging—loss of accreditation, financial impropriety, the revolving door of leadership, or even an institution closing.
Despite these challenges, the relevancy of HBCUs is real, and how best to ensure their existence should be at the heart of an ongoing conversation.
As an advocate for and supporter of HBCUs, I consider it my responsibility to contribute to the sustainability of these institutions through the work of AGB. Good governance is key not just to the success of HBCUs, but to all of higher ed; at the end of that day, it’s crucial for all institutions to have a board that is prepared to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
HBCU boards must set the vision for an institution – they need to be bold, forward thinking, and strategic. Then, they must step back and allow institutional leadership to execute that vision. Too many boards are caught in the mindset of “this is the way it’s always been done,” or, just as damaging, are guilty of living only in the here and now, when such thinking won’t adequately prepare an institution for future challenges and opportunities. In a recently released report, Top Strategic Issues Facing HBCUs, Now and into the Future, AGB identifies seven strategic issues that presidents and boards need to address. Those strategic issues fit into a larger set of questions that boards must think about, including:
- Does our board broadly understand higher education issues and how they relate to our institution?
- How can we strengthen our ability to think and act strategically?
- Is our board sufficiently balancing short-term demands with long-term opportunities and needs?
All institutions require ongoing support and thoughtful leadership from their boards. HBCUs need it more than ever.
The full text of the Top Strategic Issues Facing HBCUs, Now and into the Future is available online for download and sharing.