5 ways governing boards can help boost completion rates

New brief offers guidelines and practical suggestions for presidents, chancellors, and board members in using governance to increase completion rates at their institutions.

A new brief released today by the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) of college and universities reveals that though the majority of boards in higher education agree that completion is among their top priorities, they also say they do not spend enough time on the topic to make a real difference.

This finding is part of a recent AGB survey part of a Lumina Foundation-funded project to enhance boards’ ability to help improve college completion rates. The survey and subsequent report on board members’ assessments of this knowledge and engagement in college completion efforts aims to help institutions across the country accomplish a core institutional mission to educate and graduate students; specifically, to boost enrollment and completion.

“Accomplishing higher education’s core mission—educating students and graduating them with high-quality degrees or credentials—requires board leadership, advocacy, and accountability,” said AGB President Richard D. Legon in a statement. “Graduation and student success should be the central priorities of our colleges and universities and as such, these should be a high priority for our governing boards.”

The statement, an outgrowth of the AGB research study, found that a vast majority of board members agree that they should play a more significant role in college completion:

  • 64 percent of independent and 72 percent of public board members agreed or strongly agreed that their board should devote more time to completion;
  • 73 percent of board members at public institutions or systems and 51 percent of those at independent institutions reported that college completion is a major priority for the board;
  • 86 percent of board members at public institutions or systems reported that their institutions have strategic goals in place to improve college completion, compared to 70 percent at independent institutions; and
  • Only 60 percent of board members at both independent and public institutions or systems reported that their institutions benchmark college completion data.

Along with highlighting findings from the survey, the AGB statement offers guidelines and actionable suggestions for presidents, chancellors, and board members in using governance as a tool to increase the rate of college completion at their institutions.

(Next page: Guidelines for boards aiming to improve completion rates)

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