BRECKENRIDGE, Colo.—The presidents and board chairs of several Council for Christian Colleges & Universities institutions gathered in Breckenridge July 10-13 for the annual Governance Institute. Many of their spouses also attended. For several years, stressing strong and good institutional governance has been a theme for CCCU initiatives.
The Governance Institute is designed to teach an institution's leaders how to strengthen their board, enhance the board-president relationship, clarify respective responsibilities, encourage the president and board chair to continue developing their professional and personal relationship, refresh and revitalize team efforts to strengthen the institution, and receive updates on new legal and regulatory issues and other hot topics within higher education.
Additionally, CCCU President-elect Edward O. Blews, Jr., making his first official public appearance after being named the previous day by the CCCU board as the CCCU's sixth president, delivered an opening address at the Governance Institute. He was formally introduced by CCCU Presidential Search Committee Chair Carl Zylstra. In his opening remarks, Blews stated, "I appear before you deeply humbled and highly honored by the incredible privilege of leading the great and glorious cause of Christian higher education through the CCCU." He also declared, "The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and its distinguished members play a unique role in advancing the Kingdom of God by ministering to the mind as well as the heart and by educating the heart as well as the mind, integrating faith with learning."
Speaking to the purpose of the Governance Institute, the CCCU president-elect asserted that the very vitality and success of Christian colleges hinges in part on the quality and effectiveness of the relationship between each institution’s board chair and its president. Blews shared that he has had the privilege of working with 28 different board chairs during his nearly three decades as president of the Michigan independent college association and has himself chaired a number of national and state organization boards. Drawing on his experience from both sides of the board chair-president equation, he shared a series of insights on the unique and uniquely critical chair-president relationship. Blews' wife, Debra McKenna Blews, who is a trustee of two CCCU institutions, also participated in the Governance Institute.
“The Governance Institute was a valuable three-day investment,” said Randy Bergen, acting president of Greenville College in Greenville, Ill. “The information leaders provided about the characteristics of an effective board, the board-president relationship, and vision casting and strategic planning were all important to me as a new president. Maybe even more important was the time Greenville’s chairperson and I were able to spend one-on-one. We had room to discuss working styles and challenges the college is facing. We were able to identify ways to get the board and the campus together to address them.”
Workshops at the Governance Institute included:
Throughout the Institute, board leaders and presidents considered case studies and met together as campus teams to discuss these topics and plan governance-based actions to implement upon returning to their campuses. Facilitators for the event were retiring CCCU President Paul Corts and CCCU Government Relations and Executive Programs Director Shapri LoMaglio.
“I think the value of participating in the Governance Institute for us was the opportunity it gave us to compare how we have approached board issues at Christ's College with the best practices at Christian colleges in the CCCU. I believe this will allow us to make changes over time that will help our board function effectively and ultimately help us improve our institution and the educational programs we offer,” said Quentin Nantz, president of CCCU international affiliate Christ’s College in Taipei, Taiwan.
“This was my first CCCU Institute. I was not sure what to expect, but what I learned was great,” said Christ’s College Board Chair John Rollo. He described the value of having time to discuss these topics with President Nantz. “Our school is not in the U.S. so many of the issues are different, but much of what we learned about boards and presidents can be used,” Rollo noted.
About the CCCU: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 170 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 116 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 54 affiliate campuses from 18 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.