For College Presidents and Chancellors

Is this your first time reporting to a board of trustees?

College CEO



Here's what you need to know.

Have you never reported to a board of trustees before and you're not entirely sure what to expect?

Here are some things you should know: 

  1. Board Structure and Dynamics:
    • Familiarize yourself with the structure and composition of the board of trustees.
    • Understand the roles and responsibilities of board members, including the unique role of the board chair and how the person who holds this seat works with you. 
    • Learn about the board's governance processes, decision-making procedures, and committee structure.
  2. Governance Policies and Procedures:
    • Review the board's policies, bylaws, and procedures that govern the relationship between the president/chancellor and the board.
    • Understand the protocols for reporting to the board, submitting proposals, and seeking board approval.
    • Familiarize yourself with any specific policies or guidelines related to board communications and interactions.
  3. Board-Management Relationship:
    • Recognize that the board sets the strategic direction and policies of the college, while the president/chancellor is responsible for implementing them.
    • Establish a strong working relationship with the board chair and individual board members.
    • Clarify expectations and communication channels between the president/chancellor and the board.
  4. Reporting and Communication:
    • Understand the reporting requirements to the board, including regular reports on college operations, finances, and key performance indicators.
    • Develop effective communication strategies to keep the board informed about important issues, challenges, and successes.
    • Tailor your reports and presentations to address the board's priorities and concerns.
  5. Board Meetings and Presentations:
    • Prepare for board meetings by reviewing the agenda, relevant materials, and proposed actions.
    • Develop clear and concise presentations that effectively convey information to the board.
    • Be prepared to answer questions and provide additional information as requested by the board.
  6. Building Trust and Collaboration:
    • Establish trust and open lines of communication with individual board members.
    • Seek to understand the perspectives, expertise, and expectations of the board members.
    • Collaborate with the board to develop a shared vision for the college's future.
  7. Board Development and Engagement:
    • Support the professional development of board members by recommending training opportunities and resources.
    • Encourage board members to participate in college events, activities, and committees.
    • Foster a culture of active engagement, collaboration, and shared governance.
  8. Navigating Board-Administration Dynamics:
    • Understand the distinction between the board's role in governance and the administration's role in managing day-to-day operations.
    • Clearly communicate the college's operational needs, challenges, and opportunities to the board.
    • Seek input and advice from board members on strategic matters that impact the college.
  9. Ethical Considerations:
    • Adhere to ethical standards and guidelines in all interactions with the board.
    • Be transparent, honest, and accountable in reporting college information and performance.
    • Address any conflicts of interest or ethical concerns that may arise in a timely and appropriate manner.
  10. Seek Guidance and Support:
    • Seek guidance and advice from experienced college presidents/chancellors who have worked with boards of trustees.
    • Connect with professional associations and networks for community college leaders to access resources, mentorship, and support.

Transitioning to a board-governed environment may involve a learning curve, but with proactive engagement, effective communication, and a collaborative mindset, community college presidents/chancellors can successfully navigate their new relationship with the board of trustees and contribute to the college's success.

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.