College and university trustees have not traditionally been engaged in the national discourse about the enduring contributions of higher education to our nation’s prosperity writ large and to the advancement of individual citizens. Understandably, board members are often focused on the success of their own institutions.
AGB believes that the circumstances demand a change.
The time has come for the 50,000 college and university trustees—both as fiduciaries and as citizens—to begin to play a more active role as advocates for the value of higher education broadly. The Guardians Initiative is born out of two complementary notions about the nature of contemporary trusteeship in the United States.
First, board members can be more effective, both within their own institution and beyond, if they develop an appreciation for and a sense of belonging to higher education as a whole.
Second, educating trustees on national challenges to higher education—even if not all of those issues impacts their specific institution—enriches trustee service and makes trusteeship more personally rewarding.
Now is the time for trustees to see themselves both as fiduciaries of their institutions and as stewards for all of higher education; as advocates for higher education’s values and contributions.
It is time for higher education’s citizen board members to assume a more public role; not to supplant the voice of institution leadership but to raise their own level of accountability for the public trust.
To launch this effort, AGB has begun to develop and disseminate a series of informational briefings to our member trustees and institution leaders about higher education and the complex challenges before us. Each paper will address issues that animate national discussions about higher education and ensure that board members are fully informed and able to engage in national and local conversations about the sector.
Download and read the first paper by clicking here. Look for other papers in the coming months.