College and university boards exist for the same reasons all boards exist—to manage matters of finance, board nominations, committee work, audits and governance. Beyond these important issues, college boards typically have a large focus on fundraising, which is often driven by alumni in geographically distant locations. Colleges also have to deal with issues that are unique to higher education, including academics, safety, security and student activism.
Board management software is a comprehensive tool for managing and streamlining activities for all types of boards. Board management software lets college trustees customize various tools to perform tasks and comply with laws to fulfil their fiduciary duties.
Using Board Management Software to Meet the Unique Needs of College Boards
College boards address many of the same strategic planning, financial and governance matters as any other board of directors. In addition, they manage many issues that uniquely affect their institutions.
Managing Academic Reports and Statistics
Boards of directors must continually evaluate their school’s academic rates and structures to sustain and increase attendance. Board management software allows them to record and store reports on graduation rates, job readiness, learning objectives and other academia-related issues. College trustees can access these reports quickly to evaluate and report on results over time. Having quick access to results and statistics is a huge asset in strategic planning for the growth of the college.
Storing Records of New Course Offerings
It’s important for colleges and universities to improve and update their courses to meet the demands of today’s workforce needs. Board management software lets trustees evaluate and store information about new course offerings. Colleges and universities face tough competition against other schools. Board management software helps boards to review the most cutting-edge fields and courses to attract a higher quality of students and increase their enrollment.
Conducting Board Business Across Geographical Areas
In many cases, college boards recruit trustees from their alumni, because of their love and loyalty for their alma mater. The geographic distance of college trustees makes it difficult for trustees to meet in person as often as they need to. Board management software makes it possible to manage the college’s board business remotely across the miles and across time zones.
Coordinating Fundraising Efforts
One of the biggest differences between corporations and college boards is the heavy emphasis on fundraising. Board management software can be customized to keep track of fundraising efforts from all sources. College trustees can do their own telemarketing or other fundraising efforts and merge their results online with trustees in other geographical locations, where they can see immediate results in real time. Boards can set fundraising goals and watch the numbers rise as everyone works together on fundraising campaigns.
Handling Sensitive Matters in Executive Session
Directors of college boards often need to go into executive session to discuss private board matters such as property, gifts, litigation, personnel matters, security and other issues. Board management software gives trustees electronic space to document these activities while keeping sensitive matters private and secure.
As with any board meeting, board books contain many documents, whether they are manually or electronically prepared. Board management software alleviates concerns about paper documents getting lost or unintentionally falling into the wrong hands. Along the lines of security, board management programs have cybersecurity programs built into the software so that board information is safe from hackers. Addressing cybersecurity concerns is a big issue in corporate governance. Colleges and universities maintain a great deal of personal and financial information on their students. A large cyber breach could put students at risk and create a huge liability claim for the college.
Addressing Campus Controversies and Emergencies
Board directors of colleges must occasionally address issues on campus that are either serious or personal in nature. Any big news is also likely to attract media attention, which can reflect poorly on the college’s reputation. Student activism, scandals like the one at Penn State involving Jerry Sandusky, school shootings and hazing are a few examples of some of the tough issues that boards may have to face. Most recently, with some athletes choosing to kneel during the national anthem, boards may need to decide if the college will take an official stance on the matter. As high school students explore college opportunities, they will be evaluating safety on campus. Prospective students and their parents will be looking at how the college handled past emergencies and scandals when making their top choices. Board management software helps board members create good policies and stand ready to manage crises.
Board Management Software Streamlines General Board Activities
Board management software cuts down on time and costs without sacrificing valuable data and information.
Using board management software, board directors can easily access past and current meeting materials. The software files and tags important documents such as bylaws, audit reports and financial reports for fast and easy retrieval. The software stores strategic plans, short- and long-term goals, and more, which makes it easy for board directors to review information within seconds.
One of the most active board members is the board secretary. Board management software streamlines administrative duties. Copying, distributing and collating print materials can become a thing of the past. Board secretaries can use the software to drop and drag documents, charts, reports and other information right into an electronic board book. Board management software performs many other duties, such as:
- Creating an electronic space for committee work
- Recording surveys and votes
- Creating agenda templates
- Sending notifications and recording RSVPs
- Recording private board discussions such as committee work
- Prioritizing tasks
- Following up on assignments
In addition to making the board secretary’s job easier, administrators of board software can easily limit who can access various types of data. They can also set certain tasks to automatically be archived or deleted. The software makes it easy to set permissions for committee members, so their work is contained until they are ready to submit a formal report.
Board management software drastically reduces costs for board meetings, which is an issue that colleges have concerns about in today’s economy. Software saves paper and the labor of printing and distributing it. Conducting board business electronically is also in keeping with environmentally friendly practices.
Board members enjoy many of the advantages that board management software offers. They appreciate being able to enter the portal to send an email to another board member while an issue is weighing on their minds. Mobility is important to busy executives, and board software lets them do business wherever they happen to be. Many boards find that these benefits increase board director engagement.
All in all, board management software is an essential tool for colleges and universities because it allows them to perform all the necessary board duties, as well as the unique issues that are unique to colleges and universities.