CBT Case Studies
Northern Marianas College
Board Training and Board/President Relations in the context of
Northern Marianas College (NMC) had recently appointed a new president after a two-year period with interims holding that position. In addition, two new members had been recently appointed to their Board of Regents, one of whom was Board Chair. There were many challenges facing the new leadership team, and one of the first decisions of the College President and Board Chair was to address concerns and recommendations from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges that had resulted in a probationary status for the institution. (NMC had recently improved from "show cause" to "probationary" accreditation status and the leadership team was committed to leading efforts to achieve a clean accreditation.)
The College distributed an RFP for consultants to conduct board training on site and through videoconferences over a period of three months. They were interested in assistance in working on issues related to institutional governance, and the significant role that governance had in resolving issues related to accreditation standards.
CBT received the contract and identified Dr. Cindra Smith and Dr. Walter Packard as lead consultants for this project. Dr. Smith is a respected authority in board governance and the significant role it can play in the context of accreditation; Dr. Packard has served in a variety of institutional settings as a respected chancellor and president.Service Provided
The CBT consultants developed the board training format and curriculum by interviewing the NMC President, reviewing NMC board policies, college reports to ACCJC, and ACCJC recommendations and actions over the current and previous accreditation cycles. On-site work included individual interviews with members of the Board of Regents, college vice presidents and directors, and board staff, as well as observations of board committee and full board meetings. Based on the research, the two day on-site board training was designed to fully engage the Regents and President in affirming and developing policies, practices and protocols that ensure effective board governance.
Two additional workshops were developed and scheduled based on the outcomes of the on-site training, one on communications strategies and the other to develop board self-evaluation and presidential evaluation processes. These workshops were conducted via Skype videoconferences between the mainland and NMC. CBT recruited Douglas Gould of Douglas Gould and Associates, a national firm with experience and resources for community colleges to conduct the communications training; Drs. Smith and Packard facilitated the discussions and development of the board and CEO evaluation processes. In addition, they provided ongoing consultation via email to the President and Board Chair on request, including advice related to addressing “rogue” trustee behavior.
Feedback from the Chair of the Board of Regents, Juan Lizama, about the training included: “Thank you for your continued effort in assisting the college and the board. I'm extremely happy that we could procure your service and I definitely see a tremendous benefit. The workshop was a lot of help. Fundamentally, we would continue to exemplify the roles and responsibility of the Board as we learn more and more from a session like we just had.”
Feedback from the President of the College, Dr. Sharon Hart, included: “Thank you both so much for working with the Board of Regents of Northern Marianas College. It was indeed a pleasure having you here in person in Saipan as well as on SKYPE. As president, I learned so much from both of you! The information you provided will no doubt help me as I continue to work with the Board and to support them in their official role and capacity at the College.”
Following the board training series, the College was visited by an ACCJC team. The resulting report recognized the progress made by the College in addressing a number of recommendations, but continued the “probationary status” of the College until the next comprehensive self-study in 2012. As has been the case for the past decade, Board turnover and practice at NMC continues to be a concern. While the college President and majority of the Regents uphold effective trusteeship, additional training to reinforce effective board governance practice was recommended to help each and every board member adhere to the standards over time.