College Presidents and Chancellors

How to Maintain a Thriving Board-CEO Relationship

College CEO



Here are 10 ways to keep your relationship with your board thriving.

You've worked with your college's board for years, and everything is going just fine. But how much better could it be going?

Nurturing and developing a healthy relationship with board members is an ongoing process. Here are some strategies college presidents and chancellors can employ to continue fostering a positive and productive relationship:

  1. Regular Communication:
    • Maintain regular and open communication with board members outside of formal board meetings.
    • Schedule one-on-one meetings with individual board members to discuss their perspectives, concerns, and ideas.
    • Keep board members informed about important college updates, achievements, challenges, and strategic initiatives.
  2. Board Development Opportunities:
    • Encourage board members to participate in professional development opportunities relevant to their roles.
    • Recommend workshops, conferences, and training programs that enhance their knowledge of higher education governance, trends, and best practices.
    • Support board members in staying up-to-date with emerging issues and innovations in community college education.
  3. Strategic Goal Alignment:
    • Continuously align the college's strategic goals and initiatives with the board's priorities and expectations.
    • Seek input and feedback from board members during the strategic planning process.
    • Regularly update the board on progress toward achieving strategic goals and seek their guidance on adjustments, if needed.
  4. Board Orientation and Onboarding:
    • Assist in the orientation and onboarding process for new board members.
    • Provide comprehensive materials and information about the college's history, mission, programs, and challenges.
    • Arrange opportunities for new board members to interact with experienced members and key college administrators.
  5. Engage Board Members in College Activities:
    • Encourage board members to actively participate in college events, activities, and committees.
    • Invite board members to guest speak in classes, attend student presentations, or participate in campus initiatives.
    • Recognize and appreciate board members' contributions and involvement in college affairs.
  6. Transparent Reporting and Accountability:
    • Provide comprehensive and transparent reports to the board on college operations, financial status, and key performance metrics.
    • Clearly communicate challenges and solicit board members' input on potential solutions.
    • Take responsibility for addressing any concerns or issues raised by board members in a timely and effective manner.
  7. Respect and Appreciation:
    • Show respect for the board members' expertise, diverse perspectives, and dedication to the college.
    • Express appreciation for the time, effort, and commitment that board members contribute to their roles.
    • Recognize individual board members' achievements and contributions publicly and privately.
  8. Collaborative Decision-Making:
    • Foster a culture of shared governance by involving board members in decision-making processes when appropriate.
    • Seek board members' input and perspectives on significant matters affecting the college.
    • Engage in collaborative problem-solving with board members to address challenges and explore innovative solutions.
  9. Regular Board Evaluations and Reflection:
    • Conduct regular evaluations of the board's performance and effectiveness.
    • Seek feedback from board members on their experiences and perceptions of the board's operations and leadership.
    • Use the evaluation results to identify areas for improvement and initiate discussions on board governance enhancements.
  10. Trust and Integrity:
    • Maintain trust and integrity in all interactions with board members.
    • Uphold ethical standards and promote a culture of transparency, honesty, and accountability.
    • Address any conflicts or concerns in a fair, respectful, and timely manner.

By consistently investing time and effort into building and nurturing relationships with board members, college presidents and chancellors can create an environment of trust, collaboration, and shared vision, leading to a healthier and more effective partnership in advancing the college's mission and goals.

What else can you do?

  1. Join our ACCT Connect community. There, you'll be able to connect with peer presidents/chancellors as well as with community college trustees from throughout the country and ACCT staff and consultants who can help guide you. ACCT Connect is also full of additional resources about governance and community college advocacy, including videos and publications.
  2. Participate in ACCT events. We recommend that all trustees—and especially new trustees—participate in our Governance Leadership Institute to learn the fundamentals of their roles, responsibilities, and limitations, and we always recommend that the college CEO attend with trustees whenever possible for unparalleled team-building opportunities. The ACCT Leadership Congress and the Community College National Legislative Summit are annual opportunities to advance the interests of your college while deepening your working relationship with your board members in new environments. 
  3. Read our publications. Trustee Quarterly magazine is edited with board members in mind, but it's a great resource for you to approach issues from a governance perspective, and the magazine is also packed with other information that's useful for your role, including advocacy and legal updates, in-depth feature articles, and more. Our bookstore also offers in-depth guidebooks about community college governance and related topics. 
  4. Take advantage of our services. ACCT offers facilitated board retreats, workshops, and strategic planning events that can help you and your board stay aligned or get aligned. We also facilitate board self-evaluations and presidential evaluations for when you need them. Our goal is always to maintain or restore harmony among the college's leadership so that the institution can run smoothly, and the students and community will thrive.
  5. Talk to us. Need advice or any kind of guidance? Get in touch with us at, or contact our staff directly.