News & Insights

The start of a new academic year is a great time to examine board structure and composition as well as board member roles and performance. Do you have board members who are unengaged in their work, or some who are unable to devote the time required to being a good board member? You may want to consider moving them into a different role -- or removing them from the board altogether.

Board chairs and governance committee chairs should work together to assess board member performance and develop a plan for improving it. Guidestar offers great tips on improving board member engagement in “How to engage your board members -- and keep them that way.” Blue Avocado takes a different tack in their post “What to do with board members who don’t do anything.”

If you are past the point of improving performance and ready to strategically move a member off your board or into another role, here are some things to consider.

  • What is the board chair's role? The board chair should reach out to the board members in question and talk with them about their work on the board and gauge their true interest.
  • Why are they disengaged? Is there a way to get them tapped into a board initiative that will be a better match for their skills and interests? If not, they may be ready to leave the board themselves, but were afraid to speak up or “let you down.”  They may be glad you asked!
  • How else can they serve? If they are still interested in serving in some capacity but are ready to step down from the board, you may want to look at other roles for them. Advisory committees, board committees, event committees, and volunteer roles can be great options. Former board members can make great volunteers and ambassadors if they are treated right and plugged in to the right assignment.
  • Why were they serving in the first place? The key to finding the best assignment is to tap into what got them interested initially and what excites them about your school.
  • How to deal with toxicity and confrontation? In the event of board members who are toxic or unwilling to move off the board when nudged, Blue Avocado offers advice for more confrontational options in “Four ways to remove a board member.”

While it can be difficult to have these conversations and move people off your board, your school deserves a board full of engaged members who are working hard for your mission, your faculty, and your students!


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I See That Hand


Board members are typically recruited for their leadership, business acumen, and networks. Dr. Rebekah Basinger, project director of the In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative, will discuss how strategic questioning and interrogation skills are essential for effective board stewardship.

Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education


In this on-demand webinar, Rick Staisloff, senior partner of rpk GROUP, discusses essential aspects of strategic partnerships. This session delves into current trends, identification of partners, navigating the due diligence process, and common challenges.

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