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2014 AGB Survey of Higher Education Governance

2014 AGB Survey of Higher Education Governance

Regular board self-assessments are less of a priority for boards of both public and independent institutions than in the past.

A whopping 42 percent of independents, up from 17 percent in 2011, and 39 percent of publics, up from 13 percent three years ago, indicate that they conduct these assessments on an irregular basis.

Based on survey responses from 592 public and independent boards, the report addresses a range of important governance topics that are receiving attention from boards and the news media, including presidential compensation, board engagement, and trustee performance assessments, among other issues.

These are two of the findings of the 2014 AGB Survey of Higher Education Governance, the fourth in a series of studies of college and university governance put out by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB).

The goal of the 2014 report is to encourage discussion among boards and institutional leaders about effective governance practices and how their institutions compare with peers. Other highlights include:

  • The Board’s Role in Presidential Compensation
    • An increased percentage of independent boards (37 percent) are relying on the executive committee in lieu of the full board to make the final decision regarding presidential compensation.
    • In contrast, 79 percent of public boards depend on the full board to establish presidential compensation packages and less so on the executive committee (4 percent, down from 9 percent in 2011).
  • Board Engagement
    • Nearly 86 percent of independent boards appropriately engage their presidents and do not micromanage. At the other end of the spectrum, independent boards are most under-engaged in information technology (63 percent).
    • The majority of public boards (85 percent) are also appropriately engaged with their presidents. In contrast, fundraising is an area in which public boards continue to be under-engaged, with approximately 57 percent of respondents, down significantly from 71 percent in 2011, reporting that their board was under-engaged.
  • Individual Board Member Assessments
    • Independent institutions continue to use individual board member assessments to ensure the continual growth and effectiveness of the entire board, with 68 percent doing so.
    • In the case of publics, a much lower percentage of boards utilize individual assessments, although the proportion increased from 12 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2014.

AGB is grateful to the TIAA-CREF Institute for its support of this project. Copies of the full findings are available for purchase. Visit our website for more information.

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