Interims As Trustees: Suggested Practices
Dr. Paul R. Brown
Interims clearly recognize the importance of remaining current on the issues facing the profession after stepping away from full-time engagement in the academy. The litany of challenges seems to be never ending and staying on top of things is imperative for a successful Interim assignment. From my work engaging with Boards of Trustees, I have found the following appointments to be useful in preparation for an assignment as an interim campus administrator. These include the Board of Trustees, Parents and Alumni Councils, Academic Advisory Boards, and Community Liaison Committees.
Not only is this a way to remain current on the issues of the day, but your extensive experience is valuable to administrators who often are looking for unbiased sounding boards as they make decisions among competing strategies presented to them. Consultants often provide this service, but over time you become an important and steadfast source of expertise and experience, a trusted companion who has intimate and hands-on knowledge of the types of challenges that administrators face in their decision making.
Your discipline expertise can be especially valuable for institutions considering areas of study new to them – health-related or technology specialties particularly come to mind given these are two of the fastest growing areas of study. Expertise in navigating enrollment, student engagement, and fundraising challenges are just a few other specialties that also come to mind.
I currently serve on the Board of Trustees of Franklin & Marshall College. F&M’s Board is an incredibly talented and diverse group of individuals and serving on the Board is a rewarding and invigorating experience. As important, it allows me to experience first-hand the challenges facing the academy generally and F&M specifically, with hopefully my experience as a university president and business school dean offering an important perspective to the Board and College leadership. As an aside, in past years I also served on the College’s Parents Council, an equally rewarding experience.
Regardless of whether you are in an interim position or preparing for one, staying on top of everything academic is a life-time commitment, and one way to do this is to engage with an institution’s board or council so that you can see, first-hand, the issues and challenges facing our current leaders. What you bring to the table will be well-received and you will enjoy the experience.