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Want to know what the RIT Trustees are thinking about?

March 27, 2014

"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence."

-Abigail Adams

The RIT board of trustees is a collection of incredibly smart, accomplished, and RIT-loyal individuals who provide their expertise to guide the direction of the university and ensure that RIT continues to have a terrific sustainable future. You can find more about them on the president's website here

Whenever the trustees come together for a board meeting, I'm always impressed with their knowledge about higher education and their engagement with the issues we grapple with on a daily basis - tenure and promotion, student learning outcomes and assessment, Ph.D. programs, student life, the finances, the incoming class, research and scholarship - you name it, they've thought about it, learned about it, and yes challenged the staff with their questions.  

So how do they keep up to date on the issues in higher education? Well, one such source is the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), of which RIT is a (very) active member. You can read about the AGB at their website here and I encourage all faculty and staff to browse the site. There are a number of resources that the AGB provides its membership. For example, there is an annual conference in April that typically covers the hot topics such as MOOCs, the changing student demographics, and the rising costs of a college education. But a resource that is far more regular and provides more in-depth coverage of the issues is the bimonthly publication of the journal Trusteeship. I'm suggesting that this resource be on the reading list for faculty and staff who are interested in learning about what the trustees are thinking, talking, and giving guidance.

Take, for example, the latest issue that just came out - the January/February 2014 issue. There is a fascinating article on competency-based learning, a topic that I've talked about in town hall meetings and one I'll address in a later blog posting. This work discusses how the emphasis (from national and regional accrediting agencies) on student learning outcomes has given rise to a growing list of academic programs that are not built from courses and credit hours but rather on competencies and assessment. 

There's an article on the false dichotomy between a liberal education and professional education; a topic that I intend to also discuss in a future posting. (Spoiler alert: We don't have to use the term 'general education'.) 

And then there are three engaging, insightful, and thought-provoking articles on academic quality, a topic that really is a fiduciary responsibility of all trustees in their role to govern the long-term sustainability of the institution.

Jeremy Haefner