Building Effective Relationships with Boards

Developing and maintaining positive relationships with members of the Board of Trustees, and especially with the Board Chair, are key to a successful presidency.  Presidents must have a keen understanding of how their Boards function, including differences in stakeholders, reporting, and mission that distinguish college/university Boards from the boards of corporations and other nonprofit organizations.

  • Participants will engage in conversations with current members of Boards of Trustees about what type of candidates they look for, the value of effective communication, and the importance of shared vision.
  • Participants will explore how to recognize when Board relationships are strained or unproductive and how to change course.

Setting Vision and Strategy

Creating a strong vision and strategic plan for the university that encompasses the goals of both the Board and the new leader is central to the success of presidents.  This role is particularly important in an era when there is an increasing need for institutions to differentiate from their peers.  The vision and plan need to be inclusive of all key stakeholders, must include metrics for measuring progress, and a clear process for ensuring accountability.  The plan also should be announced in an appropriate and timely manner.

  • Participants will hear from past and current leaders who have used various approaches to create a vision, engage stakeholders, assess the needs of their institutions, and implement a strategic plan.  Discussion will focus on the success of these approaches and challenges encountered along the way.
  • Participants will engage in visioning and strategic planning exercises.  Discussion will include the perceived need for “quick wins” and how to better sell longer-range improvements.
  • Participants will learn how to assess the needs of the institution, including gathering, analyzing, and applying the right data to key decision-making steps.
  • Given the need for new leaders to get the right management team in place while ensuring a smooth transition, participants will explore strategies on how to best recruit and retain a high-performing team.

Data Driven Leadership

Higher education is in the midst of a data analytics revolution, with new data platforms providing deeper institutional insights and more stakeholders, including governing boards, demanding more and better data.  Even so, the American College President Survey suggests that current presidents do not view data as a priority. This session will inform participants about how some institutions are reorganizing their institutional data infrastructure to improve student success and institutional efficiency.  Participants also will learn how to use data to communicate effectively with internal and external stakeholder groups.

Building a Collaborative Environment: Shifting from Isolated Impact to Collective Impact

Higher education tends to be siloed by administrative functions and academic disciplines. Whether the focus is on student success or cutting-edge research, there is a tendency to organize around small projects or programs that have isolated impact. This session will help participants move beyond isolated impact and support a collective impact approach that encourages and supports meaningful and purposeful collaboration.

Rather than perpetuating the traditional structural and cultural forms of higher education, leading colleges and universities are driving innovations and reconfiguring administrative structures in ways that meet the needs of students, communities, and economies in the twenty-first century. This session will take participants through a five-step model of collaboration that is intended to bring people together and produce and sustain results.

Communications: Marketing, Crises, and Community

A comprehensive, strategic communications and public relations effort can do wonders for the perception, reputation, and success of higher education institutions.  Unexpected events are sure to happen, and institutions must be prepared to handle each incident properly, quickly, and effectively.  Using the media and other communication channels for positive and brand-enhancing content not only helps institutions and systems weather the storm when crises occur but can ensure their continuing growth and success and positive brand reputation.

  • Participants will learn how to conduct an effective “communications audit” of the efforts they find in place at their new institutions.
  • Panelists will discuss the roles senior administrators, faculty, and – importantly – current students can play in a proactive, positive marketing and public relations campaign.
  • Participants will explore how community partnerships can be leveraged into media campaigns, and vice versa.

Government Relations

Colleges and universities operate within a highly political environment. Panelists will discuss strategies for promoting the college and university when government policies or public rhetoric may be de-valuing higher education, state funding is decreasing, and some part of the public perceives tuition and student debt as unreasonably high.

  • Successful presidents are skilled at properly setting both priorities and expectations under these conditions.  Participants will engage with government and education policy officials to discuss the best ways to approach these challenges.
  • Panelists will discuss strategies for impactful advocacy on behalf of their future institutions.

Fundraising, Fiscal Management, and College/University Operations

Almost two-thirds of college presidents named fiscal management and budgeting as the number one demand on their time, including increasing time spent off-campus for fundraising.  More than 60 percent of presidents say that “never having enough money” is the top challenge facing them.  Increasingly, presidents need to be strategic and savvy financial managers to be successful.

  • Presentations and sessions will highlight strategies for developing smart institutional budgets and responsible financial plans of action.
  • Current leaders will discuss organizational changes and initiatives undertaken to increase efficiency and effectiveness while reducing costs.
  • Experts will present on the development of funding partnerships that advance the institution’s programmatic goals.
  • Various successful fundraising strategies and sources and potential new revenue streams will be discussed.

Measuring Up

Successful campus leaders need the ability to quickly assess how their institutions compare to their peers and whether their institutions are properly serving their students. Panelists and participants will discuss a variety of key indicators, exploring the public perception of each and which indicators matter most.  Degree-completion rates, diversity and inclusion efforts, college costs and student debt, and other topics will be covered.

Preparing for the Search Process

AGB Search executive consultants will conduct sessions with participants to prepare them for the executive search process.

  • Search experts will talk with participants about strategies for finding professional opportunities that are a good fit and a logical next step.
  • Panelists will discuss trends in the most critical skills and attributes being sought by colleges and universities for their next presidents.
  • Guidelines for successful in-person and video interviews will be provided.
  • Sessions will provide participants with the opportunity for review of their application materials (letter of interest, resume/CV) and for interview preparation for a mock interview with Board trustees.