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The Role of Governing Boards in the New Era

The Role of Governing Boards in the New Era

(p.127) 11 The Role of Governing Boards in the New Era
Saving Alma Mater
Ernst R. Berndt
University of Chicago Press

It is surprising how little the trustees of public universities often know about the workings of the institutions they oversee. Most trustees can speak in broad-brush language about the success of the latest fund-raising drive, about how the president seems to be doing with the alumni, about newly completed buildings, and about the latest campus strategic plan. But this kind of knowledge is only skin deep. Trustees, of course, are overseers, not managers, and it would not be right for them to trespass into the territory of their campus administration. But sound oversight carries with it a responsibility to be well informed, and, unfortunately, there is no other path to knowledge than rolling up one's sleeves and digging deep. Lay trustees may not be experts in higher education, but they need to know enough to ask perceptive and probing questions of those who are. The stresses on public universities in these times call for a higher level of trustee knowledge and involvement than was necessary in more placid times.

Keywords:   public universities, college education, higher education, trustees, hiring practices, knowledge level

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