As the role of the higher education board widens, members are often faced with the reality of appearing too distant or as an interfering entity. Universities, in particular, place the role of the board in a difficult window of power. Board members must respect the open and forward-thinking nature of a campus setting, but they must also protect the trajectory of the college—especially in relation to its financial wellbeing. As David G. Turner writes for Trusteeship magazine, “Business models are shifting, funding sources are unpredictable, and learning channels are evolving; therefore, institutions must evolve and adapt in order to survive and thrive in the days ahead.”
As these shifts in higher educational systems continue to occur, board members are tasked with finding the unique balance between authority and negligence. One of the best ways to achieve this balance is by turning the board’s attention to strategic thinking. Oftentimes, higher ed boards become bogged down in the smaller aspects of campus life. Unlike with their corporate counterparts, strategic thinking and planning regularly get pushed aside for topics that are considered to be more “pressing.” This is a mistake. Although boards exist to financially protect the entity they serve, it’s difficult to achieve that if boards aren’t looking to the horizon for a vision of future growth and evolution.