Association of Governing Boards Releases Statement on Campus Climate, Inclusion, and Civility

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Boards Seek Guidance as Students Return to Campuses

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The board of directors of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the nation’s premier association dedicated to governance in higher education, has released a timely and important statement on campus climate, inclusion, and civility.

After a year of protests, sit-ins, and public calls for an end to institutional policies that some decry as racist, sexist, and insensitive to marginalized communities, institutional governing boards are seeking guidance on how best to respond to the tensions roiling the nation’s campuses. The “AGB Board of Directors’ Statement on Governing Board Accountability for Campus Climate, Inclusion, and Civility” provides recommendations for leadership and essential questions to continue the discussion in boardrooms.

“This is a difficult and critical time for higher education,” said AGB Board Chair David Miles. “Stakeholders on campuses across the country are clamoring for change. In response, boards must engage with administration leaders to create safe, respectful spaces where all members of the university community can be heard and in which the primary values of our sector—institutional independence and academic freedom—are upheld.”

The statement, which is anchored in higher education’s foundational principles of diversity, inclusion, and freedom of expression, lists seven primary responsibilities of chief executives, governing boards, and institution leadership. They include:

  • the demonstration of trust and confidence, on the part of the board, in the institution’s chief executive officer, to whom the board must delegate the authority to make critical, timely decisions;
  • transparency on the part of presidents, who must work in collaboration with their boards on campus climate issues;
  • a periodic review of policies that impact campus climate, ensuring that they are current and consistent with institution mission and relevant laws and regulations;
  • the exercise of the board’s fiduciary duty of care by ensuring the allocation of appropriate resources to address campus climate needs;
  • the implementation of effective communication plans, with information flowing from board and institution leadership to campus community and back again;
  • the creation of proactive, responsive, and adaptive governance practices, including those that create diversity on the board itself;
  • direct engagement between boards and the campus communities they govern, to facilitate understanding between the two; and
  • the championing of diversity and equal opportunity in the faculty and staff hiring and development process.

“In tackling this issue head-on, AGB is providing boards with the guidance they need, not just today, but as the conversation on civility and campus climate evolves,” said AGB President Richard D. Legon. “Our members can continue to look to AGB for resources and programming on this topic throughout the academic year.”

The full statement is available for download at http://agb.org/statements/2016-08/statement-campus-climate-inclusion-civility.

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MORE ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNING BOARDS OF UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES
Since 1921, 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, 1,900 institutions, and 40,000 individuals, AGB is
the only national organization providing university and college presidents, board chairs, trustees, and board professionals of both public and private institutions and institutionally related foundations with resources that enhance their effectiveness.

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Julie Bourbon

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