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Perceived role of trustees: A study of higher education institutions in Ohio

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While boards of trustees have statutory authority over higher education institutions in the USA, how these boards exercise their power varies. The literature of higher education suggests a diminishing trustees' presence and power across campuses in the nation. Recently, there have been many calls for trustee activism. But, the question: "what is the role of the trustees?" continues to be asked. Hence, the purpose of this study was to investigate, from the trustees themselves, what this role is and to analyze their responses on the bases of sectors, gender, educational backgrounds, and years of experience. The study concluded that role differences existed among sectors of higher education, limited differences based on gender, educational levels, and years of experience were found. Overall, the traditional role of trustees was upheld as the primary role of the board of trustees. The article recommends that an effective orientation program be offered to new trustees, board membership be diversified to include more women and minority members, and discussion of trustees' role be done with attention to differences in sectors.
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Keywords: Governance; Higher Education; Leadership; Management Roles; Trusts; Usa

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 1999

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