Thursday, July 23, 2009

Criticizing Governance and Calling for Accountability

by Daniel L. Bennett

Our friend Anne Neal of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, has an excellent op-ed in IHE this morning discussing the need for reform of university governance. She criticizes a recent report by the AGB entitled "Survey of Higher Education Governance" for failing to survey a single university trustee. Neal's esteemed group advocates greater influence in governance issues by college alumni and trustees. She makes an excellent point about sound governance principles, stating that,
sound governance has trustees serving the interests of students, parents and alumni — not to mention taxpayers, in the case of state colleges and universities — not those of presidents. Sound governance is not about administrators finding “the new board members they want."
Neal continues with a comparison to the corporate world, in which some in the higher ed establishment often cite as a justification for ever-growing administrative salaries,
If the Enron debacle taught us one thing, it is that boards must be independent of management. While the corporate sector is turning handsprings to ensure independent trustees and independent nominating committees, apparently we are to believe that our colleges and universities should operate according to a different set of rules.
She then appropriately points out that
During the past decade, limited resources, rising costs, and mounting concerns about graduates’ lack of basic skills have prompted a demand for accountability. Taxpayers, students, and parents are being asked to foot increasingly higher bills, with no guarantee that their dollars are being well spent.
Concluding strongly that
The rising cost and declining quality that we see today in higher ed result, too often, from the belief that administrators are the real governance structure and that trustees exist to serve the institution first and the public interest second.

1 comment:

capeman said...

So Anne Neal doesn't like the way the Association of Governing Boards -- yep, that's what it is -- she doesn't like the way the Association of Governing Boards did a survey on governing boards. She parlays this into a recitation of her hackneyed pet complaints about higher education.

Perhaps Anne should start a rival organization of trustees, and show the Boards of Trustees how to do their survey right.

Oh, I forgot, Anne Neal is head of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. And a friend of the Doc's outfit, apparently.

Maybe this is just a way to get attention for her utterly inconsequential, non-influential little operation?