The first month of 2018 is behind us, and, as any government relations officers will tell you, state legislatures are already considering major bills that could affect public and private campuses across the country. AGB would like to remind institutional leaders and board members about an important set of principles and best practices from the AGB Statement on External Influences on Universities and Colleges. The statement offers guidance to institutional leaders during this active season of public policy.
The four principles to keep in mind are:
- preserving institutional independence and autonomy;
- demonstrating board independence to govern, established by charter, state law, or constitution;
- keeping academic freedom central and acting as the standard bearer for the due-process protection of faculty, staff, and students;
- and assuring institutional accountability to the public interest.
The statement asserts the importance of encouraging input from all stakeholders, while maintaining that institution decision-making processes remain free of unwarranted outside pressures.
Boards should encourage stakeholder feedback in considering a policy, but they must also ensure that their decision-making is free of undue pressures from outside actors, such as policymakers, donors, or corporate sponsors. Preserving board independence in these matters is a basic element of meeting the fiduciary standards that define a board’s legal obligations.