The governance committee (also known as the “committee on directors,” the “nominating committee” or the “committee on trustees”) is arguably one of the most important committees an institutionally related foundation can empower. As state investments in public higher education are reduced, foundation boards today are being asked to greatly increase their levels of financial support to help their institutions preserve academic excellence. A foundation board’s governance committee is at the heart of helping the foundation meet this challenge head-on, as it is charged with advising the board on the selection of new trustees who possess the right combination of skills, contacts, and experience needed.
The Governance Committee (Foundation Boards) discusses how the committee can most effectively carry out its responsibilities including:
- Building a board profile spelling out the combination of talents, knowledge, backgrounds, and expertise needed to fulfill the foundation’s goals;
- Developing and winning board approval of a written statement setting out the roles and responsibilities of each board member;
- Ensuring that an orientation program is provided to each new board member;
- Managing a process of confidential self-assessment by each board member;
- Managing the process for deciding whether to reappoint a board member;
- Planning for leadership succession;
- Designing and managing any term-limit policies;
- Honoring and recognizing retiring members;
- Identifying best practices in foundation governance and customizing them as appropriate for the foundation board;
- Effectively communicating the committee’s responsibilities and achievements;
- Assessing the performance of the committee itself and the board as a whole.
The booklet includes tips, a discussion of key trends and special issues, and common pitfalls to avoid. Its appendices include: sample board member commitment statements, an illustrative board composition matrix, and board member self-assessment forms.
“ … with a focus on foundation boards as partners with their parent institutions, this booklet is ‘action oriented,’ readable, and will allow even the beginning governance committee to set a course of development that can have a major impact on the performance of its board."
"It affords the reader a chance to view the governance committee in its proper leadership role within the board without putting it at odds with the other committees upon whom it will rely upon for support.” —David Bahlmann, President Emeritus, Ball State University Foundation
"...logically organized, very readable... a good guide for board members. "
—Susan Kubik, Principal, eAdvancement and Vice President Emeritus, Northampton Community College
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