On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, mandating a 90-day suspension on entrance to the U.S. for persons from seven countries. The initial implementation of the order meant thousands of students and scholars with green cards and valid visas were denied entry into the U.S., and many faculty and students in the U.S. were inhibited from travel abroad, for study, research, and work.
If fully implemented, the order will present colleges and universities with some very practical budget and operational challenges. As the legal process continues, board members should consider how best to execute their fiduciary responsibilities in concert with campus leaders.
Questions for boards to consider:
Institutional mission, strategic planning, and board oversight
- Is the executive order impacting the institution’s ability to fulfill its mission? How will the order affect the institution’s short- and long-term goals?
- Has the institution conducted a full inventory of functions and programs that involve international activity—including research projects, scholarly exchange, student enrollment, student exchange, and student/faculty recruitment?
- How is institutional oversight conducted for functions and programs involving international activity? Is there a designated oversight authority at the executive level, or is it dispersed among other administrators? Are international programs regularly considered in the institution’s enterprise risk management assessment?
- Does the institution have alternative plans in place if courses cannot be offered or special initiatives/programs cannot continue without international scholars/students?
- If international recruitment and programs are important components of institutional revenue, how will the executive order impact the budget (e.g. revenue losses from sources such as tuition, research funding, and conferences)?
- Is the executive order hindering student recruitment—particularly for institutions with significant foreign student enrollment, student exchange, or study abroad programs?
- Is the executive order impacting institutional insurance policies—particularly those related to international travel?
Well-being of campus members at home and abroad
- How are current students and faculty affected?
- Does the institution have a system in place to track students and scholars affected by the executive order? Are institutional leaders able to communicate with and provide guidance to these individuals?
- Is the executive order affecting institution-sponsored travel?
- Could public reaction to the executive order lead to campus unrest and have institutional leaders developed contingency plans for such events?