As the diversity of students entering theological schools continues to grow, many school leaders are challenged with mirroring that diversity within their administration, faculty, and board.
According to the 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, only one quarter of boards are placing a high priority on demographics in board recruitment, and changing board recruitment practices does not rise to the top three priorities for most boards. In the In Trust Center's recent work with theological school boards, our experience matches those findings. Board leaders and board members suggest that diversity is important but have not focused on it. This very issue was highlighted in the March 2015 Auburn Study titled Governance that Works, which noted that boards are significantly less diverse than faculties and student bodies of the schools they govern.
So how might board leaders address the issue?
“Five Questions to Get You Started” from BoardSource suggests a starting point. Consider taking this resource to your next board meeting or governance committee meeting where board recruitment might be addressed. Consider if your board is clear about what your ideal composition should be. Does the board track this over time? Or how might you reimagine your board member recruitment strategy?
In addition, the Trust Center offered a webinar in 2018 on cultural assessment, which highlighted an opportunity for schools to consider their institutional culture, including their commitment to diversity and inclusion and how it impacts all stakeholders, including students. You can view this webinar on demand now.
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