Lessons From a University Boardroom

Monday, 30 October 2017: 1:35 PM

Beth A. Brooks, PhD
The Brooks Group, LLC, Chicago, IL, USA

Leading a complex process such as changing governance is something nurse leaders are well suited to manage. Straddling different views of what an institution should do are waters nurse leaders navigate daily. When progressing through the process of changing a university’s governance model it is important to understand the fiduciary duties of board members, the role the articles of incorporation and bylaws play in guiding how the organization is governed. Bylaws, considered a legal document, outline the powers, duties, and responsibilities of the board, shape the purpose and mission; the structure of the board; and responsibilities of board members. Once the bylaws are completed that outline the powers, duties, and responsibilities of university board members, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) recommends best practices for selecting, orienting, ongoing professional development and evaluating board members. A crucial step in this process is identifying the competencies needed for a highly functioning board because of the wide range of new challenges facing higher education today. As governance in higher education begins to change, there is an emergence of boards composed of experts in higher education, learning assessment, risk management and compliance, as well as those who can support the institution philanthropically.

Recent governance research proposes a “quad qualified model” which can be used to identify board members, each of whom must be effective monitors. Effective monitors must possess four attributes: Independence, Bandwidth, Motivation, and Expertise in the domain. Once new board members are selected, the work of orienting them to their role and responsibilities begin. The board’s governance committee leads the process of nominating, electing, orienting, providing for ongoing professional development and evaluating board members in order to realize a high functioning, generative board which sustains the overall mission and vision of the education institution. The author outlines one university’s journey implementing and administering a new governance model, while functioning seamlessly within a modern corporate health care system.