Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


What should boards be monitoring?

Posted on March 14, 2016 at 8:35 AM

On April 17, 2016, I’m doing a pre-conference workshop at AGB’s National Conference on Trusteeship on “Creating and Using Dashboards to Monitor and Improve Institutional Performance.”


The most important question about dashboards is what your board should be tracking. I see two broad categories. The first is your institution’s health and well-being. Boards should be tracking answers to the following questions:

• Is your college community safe and healthy?

• Do you have enough resources: financial, human, capital, and technological?

• Do you have the right resources: financial, human, capital, and technological?

• Are your revenue sources sufficiently diverse?

• Is your college financially healthy?


The second broad category is how well your institution is keeping its promises—implicit as well as explicit—to its students and their families, your region, and taxpayers and others who support it. Boards should be tracking answers to the following questions:

• Are your students learning what your promise?

• Do your students succeed?

• How well does your college help students learn, develop, and succeed?

• Does your college contribute to economic development and to the public good?

• Is your college achieving what you promise in your mission and goals?

• Do you put your money where your mouth is—investing in keeping your promises?

• How efficiently do you deploy your resources?


I hope you or someone else from your institution will join me at this workshop!

Do today's colleges need shared institutional governance?

Posted on January 10, 2015 at 3:55 PM

I have not yet read Bowen and Tobin’s new book Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in te Governance of Higher Education. But its publication reminded me that my new book Five Dimensions of Quality includes a chapter called “A Community of People” that addresses many of the governance issues that Bowen and Tobin talk about.


There are plenty of non-profit organizations that operate successfully without higher education’s governance model. So do today’s colleges really require a traditional system of shared, collegial institutional governance?


I define institutional governance as a balance of power, akin to the system of checks and balances enshrined in the United States constitution, that leads to what Richard Morrill calls “collaborative, integrated decisions.” When the balance of power gets out of whack, morale, time, and energy are sapped, and high turnover and a chaotic campus environment can result. These kinds of problems don’t kill a college, but they take time, energy, and resources away from more critical issues, such as improving the quality of students’ educational experiences.


There’s no one best model for institutional governance, but the best ones I’ve seen share the following traits: respect, communication (listening as well as telling), collaboration, professional growth and development, and documentation. And, yes, today’s colleges need all of those in abundance.