1. Is the board’s ‘committee on trustees’ or ‘Governance committee’ the best committee to identify and plan for the board’s professional development needs? Should this committee also be recommending board/committee structure or does that come from board leadership – Chair with HOS, Exec Comm?
Reply from Cathy Trower:
If you have a high functioning Governance Committee (with work that goes beyond nominating), then absolutely; it’s a great place for thinking through the board’s education and development needs. Some boards call this committee “Governance and Board Development.”
Oftentimes, yes, this committee is also the place for discussions about board/committee structure including thinking through committee leadership, charters, and composition. This committee should periodically revisit the structure to ensure that the board is driving the work of the committees (not vice versa), that the right committees are in place doing important work, that the committee structure is well-aligned with strategic imperative, and that task forces and ad hoc groups are formed as needed. Importantly, this committee does its work in collaboration with the Head of School and the Board Chair.
2. How does the committee best assess and plan for the board’s professional development needs?
Reply from Cathy Trower:
One way is to ask the Head of School what they see in terms of the board’s professional development needs. That person is well-positioned to see what’s ahead, important trends affecting the school, and knows the board’s strengths and areas for improvement.
Another way is to start with that list of topics the Head sees as important and poll the board members to get a sense of their knowledge level on those topics (a simple 1 to 5 scale where 1 = “I don’t know about that at all” to 5 = “I’m confident of my knowledge in this area works well”). Assuming people are honest, you will easily see the knowledge gaps. And, if you get some 5’s on some topics, you might have some people in a position to help craft those development / education sessions, or work with outside experts in designing educational sessions. I worked with a school a few years ago on this and we used items under these broad themes:
- DEI & J
- Ethics curriculum
- Social media
- International programming
- Student behavior and student life
- School finance and business model
- Real estate/ school footprint
- Community engagement
- Administration-Faculty relations