Press Releases | Trusteeship

New Guide Helps College Trustees to “Ask Questions, Get Answers”

July 30, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni announced today the release of a new guide for college and university trustees, Asking Questions, Getting Answers. The guide is the latest in a series from ACTA’s Institute for Effective Governance that includes The Basics of Responsible Trusteeship, Strategic Planning, Assessing the President’s Performance, and The Spellings Commission and You.

“If American higher education is to remain the best in the world, trustees must ask questions and obtain independent information,” said City University of New York trustee Kathleen M. Pesile, chair of the Institute’s Advisory Board. “But they often don’t know where to start. This guide has the answers, and trustees who want further assistance should call ACTA.”

In a 2007 survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education, less than 15 percent of trustees said they were “very well prepared” when they joined their boards; four in ten said they were “slightly” or “not at all” prepared. On the basis of these findings, The Chronicle dubbed trustees “willing, but not ready,” and USA Today said many “feel ill-prepared for the job.”

Responding to this problem, Asking Questions, Getting Answers is divided into five broad sections of questions targeting the most important areas of oversight for the board of any institution of higher education. These are “Academic Affairs,” “Student Learning,” “Faculty Hiring, Review, and Promotion,” “Financial Oversight and Costs,” and “Board Effectiveness.”

“Are standards consistent with the university’s mission? How does the institution measure student learning? How does the institution hire, review, and reward faculty? What efforts has the institution made to keep tuition affordable? These are the kinds of questions trustees need to ask to perform their duties as fiduciaries of their institutions,” ACTA president Anne D. Neal explained.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. Its network includes alumni and trustees from more than 600 colleges and universities across the country. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards and educated the public about such issues as historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas, accreditation, and good governance in higher education.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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