Good boards always want to improve their performance, but there are several inflection points at which restructuring may be especially worthwhile. It is natural to consider making changes, and doing so has a greater probability of success, at the following key moments:
On the arrival of a new president. New presidents bring fresh eyes to all aspects of institutional operations, and their campus communities naturally expect, even hope for, some things to change as a result. This provides boards with an occasion to consider how best to strengthen their work in partnership with the new president.
On the election of a new board chair. Even when new chairs are installed as part of an established succession process, they usually bring new perspectives to their roles. Sometimes, chairs are expressly elected to effect change. In either case, a new chair will have substantial support for leading reform, whether it be modest or dramatic.
After a board or committee assessment. Full board assessments frequently turn up a need or opportunity to strengthen committees. Similarly, when the governance committee assesses a committee’s performance, it may identify opportunities for productive change. Following up to implement needed improvements builds on a realistic foundation of evidence and expressions of interest.
On the adoption of a new strategic plan. The periodic refreshing of institutional strategy is an opportune time to reframe board work around the new plan. Rethinking committees’ focus and goals, determining key issues and agendas, and reframing guidance for the administration can foster productive adjustments in committee work.
In response to unforeseen institutional changes, challenges, or opportunities. Institutions are sometimes confronted with unforeseen changes that challenge their viability or provide unusual opportunities. On such occasions, boards may need to consider restructuring to adapt to such changes and reposition the institution in light of their impact.