Lawrence White is vice president and general counsel at the University of Delaware. He is a regular contributor to Trusteeship magazine and author of the "Legal Standpoint" column.
To get some idea of the range and complexity of legal issues with which trustees are expected to be familiar, take a look at the agenda from NACUA's conference.
This week more than a thousand lawyers will assemble in Washington, D.C. for the Annual Conference of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA). NACUA is the nation's largest bar association devoted to the representation of higher education clients. The Annual Conference features more than ninety sessions and discussion groups covering virtually every aspect of contemporary institutional management.
In turn, the general counsel of these institutions communicate these issues to campus leaders and trustees. In Top 10 Campus Legal Issues for Boards, I endeavored to describe—briefly and in non-jargon-laden prose—ten legal challenges of consummate importance to all college and university trustees.
I had two unspoken objectives in writing Top 10 Campus Legal Issues for Boards. First, while it may be beyond the grasp of any campus lawyer to educate trustees on every legal issue that might arise, it is always timely to remind board members that a little bit of prevention is worth tens of thousands of dollars' worth of cure, and that the time to confer with campus counsel is before legal problems surface—not afterwards.
Second and more important, I wanted to reinforce the obvious point that trustees perform their work against the backdrop of a constantly shifting environment of new laws, new court decisions, and changing compliance priorities. In the short time between the publication of Top 10 Campus Legal Issues for Boards and today, there have already been significant new developments in the federal government’s approach to enforcing sexual harassment laws on campus.
Perhaps the most important contribution AGB’s new monograph can make is to remind trustees that what the law permits today it may prohibit tomorrow. Your education on legal issues affecting higher education is never complete.