Is it a good operating structure for a board to have the president also serve as a member of the executive committee?
Related, can a board truly have an executive session if the president of the college attends the meeting as a member of the executive committee?
Presidents typically serve as ex-officio members of all board committees, except the audit committee. As an ex officio member, the president may attend (and should attend, as scheduling allows) all committee meetings except audit. The executive committee plays a particularly important role for the president as it assists with matters that fall between regularly scheduled meetings of the board, ensures that the board is functioning properly, and serves as a sounding board for the president. The board chair should chair this committee and run its meetings.
It is good practice for the board to meet in executive session regularly. Over half (55%) of independent boards routinely schedule executive sessions at every board meeting. It is appropriate for the president to attend the executive session (about 88% of boards routinely include the president in executive sessions). However, it is also good practice for the board to excuse the president at some point in every executive session. This should be done regularly, no matter what the business of the board may be during that period of the executive session. At the conclusion of the executive session—if the president is not included—it is good practice for the board chair to update the president on topics that were discussed.