Advisory councils have come to play an increasingly important role in colleges and universities, informing the decisions of deans and presidents, advocating for the institution, and leading the way in giving and fundraising. These groups can provide vital support to their institutions, but positioning them for greatest effect requires thoughtful planning and support.
AGB Consulting can help chief executives, deans, and other key administrators develop successful policies and adopt best practices for structuring an advisory council, defining its role, managing its work, and maximizing its benefits to the institution. We can also help plan and facilitate a workshop to effectively engage council members and clarify the respective roles and responsibilities of council members, officers, and staff.
We can help institutions with new or long-serving advisory councils address these essential issues:
- What are the benefits to expect and the pitfalls to avoid?
- Do you have the right policies and guidelines, or bylaw provisions?
- How should the council’s role be defined?
- How should advisory council members be identified and enlisted?
- What staff and resources are required to manage an effective advisory council?
- What should be the policies regarding council members’ giving and participation in fundraising?
- Does the relationship between the council and the institution properly reflect its advisory status?
- How do you evaluate and enhance the performance of an advisory council?
Diagnostic Advisory Council Review
The advisory council review service provides presidents, senior administrators, or deans with a diagnostic review of their council’s key practices, policies, utilization, relationships, and communications. Advisory councils serve different types of institutions, and their purposes and roles vary widely. This service offers confirmation of effective structures, processes, and practices, and identification of those that need to be addressed; clarifies the non-fiduciary role of an advisory council within the institutional governance hierarchy; and recognizes the myriad ways an advisory council can productively engage with the institution and its constituencies.
Through conversations, meetings, and review of key documents, the advisory council review will examine:
- Council culture and member engagement
- Council structure within the institution
- Council leadership
- Currency and adequacy of policy documents (such as council charge, individual member responsibilities, etc.)
- Member awareness of council responsibilities
- Ethical standards and oversight
- Relationships and accountability among council members, with key staff, and between the council and institutional governance
Precipitating events or conditions that may indicate a need for the service include:
- Council practices that don’t align with institutional policies
- Conflicts of interest/ethical lapses
- Competing fundraising priorities or philosophies
- Arrival of a new president or new council leadership
- Lack of clarify about council responsibilities and authority
- Desire to establish a competitive advantage
- Need to more effectively engage council members
Advisory Council Development
The advisory council development service helps boards, presidents, senior administrators, and deans engage their advisory councils, solve problems, and achieve a higher level of performance and satisfaction by engaging with an expert consultant on fundamental leadership issues. Through presentations, interviews, and a customized council survey, AGB’s consultants work with council officers and institutional leadership to identify goals, develop a strategy for improving performance, and a plan for implementation.
Engage our consultants on any of these popular council development topics:
- Strengthening council culture by enhancing engagement, trust, respect, and a commitment to inquiry and inclusion;
- Understanding the scope and limits of the council’s charge and responsibilities and how they align with the institution’s greater governance structure;
- Building an effective working relationship between the council and development staff through mutually agreed-upon goals;
- Building a more strategic council by leveraging the unique skills and expertise the council brings to the institution;
- Recruiting and strategically cultivating council members through needs assessment, succession planning, and systematic leadership development;
- Developing a well-organized council orientation program to ensure effective individual engagement and council performance;
- Staying current on top strategic issues and the culture and business of higher education.