The Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary recently completed a study of leadership in accredited theological schools in the United States and Canada. The research included surveys and site visits — annual interviews over a three-year period in 10 schools with new presidents, plus six one-time visits to schools known to be very well run by experienced leaders. Some of the results were previewed in the Summer 2010 issue of In Trust. The full report is available from Auburn Seminary at www.auburnseminary.org/seminary-leadership.

One of the major findings of the study was that few presidents succeed, and none leave a significant legacy, without support from a competent board (or, if the school does not have its own board, other overseers such as university officials or religious authorities). In the course of the research, the team of investigators found some instances of exemplary boards. Regrettably, however, there were many more examples of boards that were passive, disengaged, or even derelict.

In the summary that follows, the study's findings are distilled into a familiar format: four "habits" of effective boards. Under these rubrics, which follow the cycle of presidential leadership from start to finish, we report on some of the best board performance we saw, and we also warn against some of the bad practice that we found in too many cases. The team of investigators included two In Trust Governance Mentors — David Tiede and Douglass Lewis (who is also the chair of the board at In Trust) — as well as Sharon Miller, Anthony Ruger, and me, all from the Auburn Center.

Article from: Spring 2011

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