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Former Wisconsin System President and AGB Senior Fellow Kevin Reilly to Oversee AGB’s Guardians Initiative™

Jun 13, 2017

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) has announced that Kevin P. Reilly, president emeritus and regent professor of the University of Wisconsin System and current AGB Consultant, has agreed to expand his role as a Senior Fellow, assuming a leadership position in AGB’s Guardians Initiative.

Launched in Dallas last April at AGB’s National Conference on Trusteeship, the Guardians Initiative is a national campaign to engage college and university trustees in reclaiming the value proposition of higher education and its contribution to both individuals and society. The initiative seeks to harness the collective strength of some 50,000 trustees—both as fiduciaries and citizens—to play a more active role as advocates for the value of higher education more broadly.

“Kevin Reilly is both an experienced and respected leader in the world of higher education, as well as a thoughtful, nationally recognized voice on topics impacting the sector—including governance, leadership, and policy,” said AGB President Richard D. Legon. “His national stature and passion will, I’m sure, inspire trustees and board members to become advocates for higher education and its value to American society.”

Reilly already has strong connections to AGB, currently serving as a consultant to both AGB Consulting and AGB Search. In 2015, he chaired AGB’s Task Force on System Board Governance, which produced the formative publication, Consequential Board Governance in Public Higher Education Systems. While serving as president of the University of Wisconsin (UW) System president from 2004–2013, he also was a member of the AGB Council of Presidents. While president, he collaborated with the UW board of regents and campus chancellors to develop the “Growth Agenda for Wisconsin,” a long-term vision and strategic framework to make the university more competitive in the global knowledge economy. Under his leadership, enrollment grew to 182,000—an all-time high—and sponsored research continued to expand beyond $ 1 billion annually. One of Reilly’s final innovations as president was to establish competency-based degree programs in the UW System, the first of their kind offered by a public university system.

Reilly served as chancellor of UW-Extension from 2000 to 2004 and as provost and vice chancellor from 1996 to 2000. A native of New York City, he came to Wisconsin from the State University of New York (SUNY) System, where he was associate provost for academic programs and then secretary of the university. Earlier in his career, he led the New York State board of regents office, which evaluated and accredited all public, private, and for-profit colleges and universities in the state.

Reilly is a member of the Higher Education Working Group on Global Issues for the Council on Foreign Relations. He has advised the University of Nizwa in Oman and Qatar University on the development of their institutions. He has also served as the president of the National Association of System Heads.

He is author and editor of books and articles on higher education leadership, policy, accreditation, and board governance, among other topics in literature and Irish studies. At UW-Madison, he has taught the undergraduate course on James Joyce and a graduate seminar on major challenges in American higher education. He earned his BA at the University of Notre Dame, and his MA and PhD at the University of Minnesota.

For nearly 100 years, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) has had one mission: to strengthen and protect this country’s unique form of institutional governance through its research, services, and advocacy. Serving more than 1,300 member boards and 40,000 individual citizen trustees, AGB is the only national organization providing university and college presidents, board chairs, trustees, and board professionals of both public as well as private institutions and institutionally related foundations with resources that enhance their effectiveness. In accordance with its mission, AGB has developed programs and services that strengthen the partnership between the president and governing board; provide guidance to regents and trustees; identify issues that affect tomorrow’s decision making; and foster cooperation among all constituencies in higher education.

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