How governing boards provide oversight for community colleges : understanding the differences between state-appointed and elected boards Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/vt150m99p

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  • The purpose of this study was to compare how elected and appointed board trustees provide oversight for the community colleges they serve. The rationale for this study was that little examination of board governance processes at community colleges had occurred and, as a result, board members may lack the understanding necessary for effectively performing their governance responsibilities. Although there have been multiple studies examining the board-president relationship, little research has examined what differences between elected and state-appointed boards may exist, and if board members are prepared to understand and fulfill their responsibilities. The following questions guided the research: (1) To what extent do the roles and responsibilities of politically appointed trustees and locally elected trustees differ? (2) How prepared are state boards and elected boards for their oversight role and responsibilities? The goal of the research was to identify whether there were substantial differences between how state-appointed boards and elected boards approached their oversight responsibilities, to identify benefits or limitations for an institution between state board oversight and elected board oversight, and to better understand the importance of board preparation. The research design followed a qualitative case study methodology focusing on three community college boards in the same state -- two locally elected community college boards and the state board of a community college system. A collective case study provided a unique opportunity to compare if differences existed between locally elected and state-appointed boards. The research instruments utilized to gather data for this study were a questionnaire, interviews, board meeting observations and examinations of board minutes, orientation packets, and board policies. The themes that emerged from the study fell primarily into the following categories: professional experience, board preparation, roles and responsibilities, decision-making, and board relations. The study findings did not reveal there were strong and unique procedural differences between elected and state-appointed trustees, but it did confirm that board preparation is severely lacking for all boards, resulting in boards composed of well-intended individuals, but not necessarily equipped to serve effectively. For boards to operate at a high level of effectiveness in support of the college mission, the findings supported the following: boards undergo initial and ongoing training on their roles and responsibilities, employ a strong president who understands the importance of board preparation, and have a commitment to ongoing professional development regarding their governance roles. Lacking any of the above can greatly impact board effectiveness and has the potential to leave institutions vulnerable to poor oversight.
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