ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRUSTEES GUIDE FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRUSTEES
A Guide to Electing and Appointing Community College Trustees
The mission of community colleges is to help meet the educational and economic needs of the communities that sustain them. Each college strives to reflect the values and standards that characterize their individual communities. Those responsible for appointing or electing trustees to govern these institutions must respect the covenant between the college and the community it serves.
Community College Governance
Selecting qualified trustees is essential to overall excellence in community colleges. The primary responsibility of a board of trustees is meeting the changing educational needs of the community, while reflecting the community’s values in fulfilling the college mission. Trustees evaluate and maintain the consistency of institutional mission and goals with community needs, formulating policy and ensuring effective leadership and responsible use of resources. State laws govern the selection of community college trustees, whether by election or appointment. The length of term and number of board members vary from state to state, as do specific criteria regarding candidate eligibility.
Governance is a public trust and requires trustees to serve without personal gain to fulfill the college mission. Effective boards are made up of individuals with many perspectives, varied expertise and experiences, and diverse backgrounds. Diversity gives a board balance, depth, a variety of resources, and ensures that the needs of the entire community are recognized and addressed.
Standards of Good Practice
Excellent board members are knowledgeable about the needs and issues of the community, within the broad social, political, cultural and economic environment. Trustees must have a commitment to the community college mission, and a vision to realize that mission on behalf of the entire community. Effective boards must undergo periodic self-evaluation in order to maintain continuity of focus and governance.
Those with the responsibility for appointing and/or electing trustees should focus on candidates who understand and will adhere to standards of good practice. Specifically, candidates seeking membership on a community college governing board should understand and accept that the BOARD:
• Derives its authority from the community and that it must always act as an advocate on behalf of the entire community;
• Must clearly define and articulate its role;
• Is responsible for creating and maintaining a spirit of true cooperation and a mutually supportive relationship with its CEO;
• Always strives to differentiate between external and internal processes in the exercise of its authority;
• And its trustee members should engage in a regular and ongoing process of in-service training and continuous improvement;
• And its trustee members come to each meeting prepared and ready to debate issues fully and openly;
• And its trustee members vote their conscience and support the decision or policy made; • Exemplify ethical behavior and conduct that is above reproach;
• Endeavors to remain always accountable to the community; and
• Honestly debates the issues affecting its community and speaks with one voice once a decision or policy is made.
Those responsible for appointing and/or electing trustees should have access to the following information that helps inform the community about the suitability of candidates, and the accountability of community college governing boards:
1. Does the candidate meet the legal criteria for trusteeship?
2. Does the candidate understand and appreciate the distinct mission of the community college?
3. Is the candidate knowledgeable about community issues and needs, and appreciative of the uniqueness of the college and community?
4. Has the candidate demonstrated service to the community?
5. Does the candidate bring a vision and understanding of the college within the local education system, and within the context of all higher education in the region and state?
6. Does the candidate bring a desire to advocate for the college and its students in the community, the district, and at the state and national levels
7. Is the candidate aware of and knowledgeable about governance responsibilities?
8. Is the candidate willing to commit sufficient time and effort to governance responsibilities?
9. Does the candidate have a commitment to shared leadership with the college president, and a commitment to working with faculty and other members of the college community?
10. Is the candidate aware of ethical issues of board governance and unencumbered by private agendas?
11. Is the candidate sensitive to issues of diversity, and committed to be mindful of the perspectives of all constituencies?
12. Is the candidate able to contribute to a board consensus while respecting diversity of opinion and free exchange of ideas?
13. Does the candidate understand that the board, not the individual, has authority?
14. Is the candidate committed to continuing trustee professional development?
15. Does the candidate bring characteristics and qualities that will enhance the standing of the college within the community?