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Tech Trustees Considering Next Step In Development

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Tech Trustees Considering Next Step In Development

A board self-evaluation will lead the Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees to consider ways to improve its work.

Board Chair Trudy Harper told trustees there were several common issues outlined by trustees members as it grows from its 2017 start. At its Tuesday executive committee meeting, Harper shared her assessment of the comments offered by board members.

“I was only looking for the bad news, not the good news. So where people said we did a great job, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on those things just to be honest,” Harper said. “I did spend some time on the areas where I felt like the the surveys demonstrate we have some work to do.”

Among the findings, Harper said the board has matured beyond getting its bearings. She said the board should be able to provide long-term leadership for the campus. The board will move forward with a survey of peer institutions to determine how this might be achieved. The board may also consider a retreat or workshop to look at priorities once the pandemic ends.

“I do think we’re at a place we’ve spent so much time just getting up to speed and understanding the business of the university and then dealing with a lot of administrative items, policies and things that had to be done, things that weren’t optional for us,” Harper said. “We didn’t have a lot of I want to say the luxury really of even thinking a lot about strategy and vision.”

Beyond that, the board wants to create a clearer understanding of the University’s specific goals. Harper said that will include an assessment of how success is measured in various facets of the campus. The board would ask Tech’s president to report at least annually on these goals and measurements.

Board member Johnny Stites said the board might want to look at the private sector to study metrics used in those areas. He said higher education often does not focus on the metrics necessary for success.

“I think we all want to reset the dialogue on this so that we’re being much more surgical as we think about success,” Harper said.

Harper said the board should also be more strategic in considering meeting dates to better match the campus schedule. She said a more mindful schedule should produce better data for the board.

“I think we can be smarter about this,” Harper said. “I just think we’ve been somewhat arbitrary and I think we could be much more mindful about how we set our meeting schedule.”

The self-evaluation should also focus on committee structures and study best practices of peer institutions with longer governance histories.

Several board members also expressed concern about the role of the board in terms of governance versus management. Harper said it needs to be more clear of the President’s role and that of the board. The board will begin receiving regular updates on the topic as board education starting at its first quarter meeting.


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