The Association of Governing Boards of College and Universities last week released a statement that should be required reading for anyone concerned about Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s iron-fisted control of LSU.
As readers of this blog know, Jindal’s handpicked Board of Supervisors has fired every senior administrator who has differed with the governor. His Economic Development Secretary, Stephen Moret, is blatantly angling for the job of system president. And now, in today’s Baton Rouge Advocate, comes news that Jindal’s former chief of staff Stephen Waguespack may be in line to take the job of general counsel for the LSU System. (Like Moret, Waguespack declined to forswear interest in the job.)
As I have pointed out in another blog post, Jindal’s control of LSU poses risks to the university’s upcoming re-accreditation.
The Association of Governing Boards Releases AGB Statement on External Influences on Universities and Colleges
To help higher education presidents and boards respect and welcome input from all key constituencies yet also ensure that the decision-making process is free from unwarranted intrusions, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) has developed the “AGB Statement on External Influences on Universities and Colleges.” The statement is intended to guide boards of both public and independent institutions as they confront the proliferating challenges to governance from many quarters.
In recent years, governing boards of colleges and universities have faced growing external pressures on their work. Elected officials have attempted to direct governance actions, regulators have tried to redefine the meaning of board independence, donors and sponsors have looked for ways to set institutional policies, and a broad array of organizations has sought to influence decision making.
“Colleges and universities must work harder than ever before to meet heightened public demands for accountability, transparency, improved educational quality, greater student access and degree attainment, and more-effective cost containment,” said Jim Geringer, chair of the board of AGB and Western Governors University and former governor of Wyoming. “Governing boards, as overseers of the public’s trust in higher education, have an obligation to remain open to external input and ensure that the institutions they govern are responsive to such stakeholder and societal needs. It is crucial that boards welcome ideas, knowledge, advice, and fresh concepts to the boardroom.”
“But while encouraging legitimate stakeholder communication and external contacts,” Geringer continued, “boards also must be armed with the judgment necessary to detect when influence becomes unwarranted pressure that conflicts with responsible governance.
Richard D. Legon, president of AGB, agreed: “Boards should not cede their authority to any self-serving political, economic, or personal interest external to the institution.”
The statement highlights four basic principles, organized around key governance themes. Boards should:
- Preserve institutional independence and autonomy.
- Demonstrate board independence to govern as established in charter, state law, or constitution.
- Keep academic freedom central and be the standard bearer for the due-process protection of faculty, staff, and students.
- Assure institutional accountability to the public interest.
The statement describes each principle and its application to governing boards in detail, and includes questions for boards to ask themselves about how they respond to external influences. AGB recommends that potential trustees be educated about the principles before they join a governing board and then reminded of the principles periodically throughout their board service.
- So Gov. Bobby Jindal is running LSU. Why should we care? (bobmannblog.com)
- Jindal is now fully in control of LSU (bobmannblog.com)
- Jindal Approval Sinks Like A Stone; Vouchers Opposed By Majority (dailykingfish.com)
- Where’s Bobby Jindal? Not on the LSU campus. (bobmannblog.com)
- LSU: A football team with its own English department (bobmannblog.com)
- The Jindal poll question that wasn’t asked (bobmannblog.com)
- Bobby Jindal’s “democracy” of fear (bobmannblog.com)