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AGB Urges College Leadership to Take a Larger Role to Ensure Students Graduate

Apr 26, 2016

Research Shows Board Members Should Focus More on College Completion

Washington, DC—The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), the only association focused solely on higher education governance, has released an important statement on the critical need to increase the number of students who graduate from a two- or four-year college with a high-quality degree or credential.  AGB stressed the responsibility of governing boards to address this issue. The “AGB Board of Directors’ Statement on Board Responsibility for the Oversight of College Completion” is a call to action and a roadmap for boards to contribute effectively to the success and sustainability of college completion while supporting institutional, state, and national goals for the same.

This statement is an outgrowth of the AGB research study, “Governing Board Oversight of College Completion,” funded by Lumina Foundation. The study found that a vast majority of board members agree that they should play a more significant role in college completion. Key findings include:

  • Sixty-four percent of independent and 72 percent of public board members agreed or strongly agreed that their board should devote more time to completion;
  • Seventy-three percent of board members at public institutions or systems and 51 percent of those at independent institutions reported that college completion is a major priority for the board;   
  • Eighty-six percent of board members at public institutions or systems reported that their institutions have strategic goals in place to improve college completion, compared to 70 percent at independent institutions; and
  • Only 60 percent of board members at both independent and public institutions or systems reported that their institutions benchmark college completion data.

AGB President Richard D. Legon said, “As student success and attainment continue to be a national priority, board members must make it a board priority as well, ensuring that the institution’s or system’s mission is clear and that completion efforts are aligned with that mission.”

The statement includes core principles to guide board members in advancing completion efforts, as well as potential strategies boards can promote to support student completion, such as:

  • Funding technology platforms that allow online and hybrid courses to expand educational opportunities and access;
  • Establishing incentives for exceptional teaching and advising that support student learning and success;
  • Using predictive analytics to monitor student progress toward completion and targeted interventions that improve progress through courses and academic programs; and
  • Engaging in board oversight of institutional financial aid policies that encourage and support timely progress toward completion.

The statement also lists recommended actions for presidents and chancellors.

“Accomplishing higher education’s core mission – educating students and graduating them with high-quality degrees or credentials – requires board leadership, advocacy, and accountability,” continued Legon. “Graduation and student success should be the central priorities of our colleges and universities and as such, these should be a high priority for our governing boards.”

The AGB statement is part of a larger strategy by the association to address  college completion. With funding from Lumina Foundation, AGB is presenting statewide programs for board members to discuss fiduciary duties, board accountability, and board responsibility to oversee college completion. AGB will conduct a follow-up survey in 18 to 24 months to measure any progress on this issue.

The statement and report are available for download on AGB’s website, www.agb.org.

About AGB
The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) is the only national association that serves the interests and needs of academic governing boards, boards of institutionally related foundations, and campus CEOs and other senior-level campus administrators on issues related to higher education governance and leadership.  Its mission is to strengthen, protect, and advocate on behalf of citizen trusteeship that supports and advances higher education.

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