On Thursday, March 1, more than 150 public higher education trustees and administrators gathered in Westborough, MA, for the annual Statewide Trustees Conference for a day of learning, knowledge sharing and networking.
In attendance were representatives from each of the 25 boards of trustees across the Commonwealth. The day began with a professional development training for new trustees conducted jointly by DHE, the Attorney General’s Office, the State Ethics Commission, and the Office of the Inspector General. Although being a trustee is a volunteer position, the responsibilities of serving on a public higher education institution’s board of trustees are significant, and DHE takes seriously its role in providing the support necessary for board members to be successful for their colleges and universities. “As a new member of the MassBay Community College Board of Trustees, I found the orientation session speaker to be very informative,” said Matt Khan, a financial advisor and consultant. “The session was helpful for me to better understand my role and responsibilities as well as giving me resources to utilize if I have questions.”
Great to be with the trustees of our public colleges and universities for the @MassDHE #HigherEd Trustees Conference. Our Administration is making significant investments to address college access and affordability for some of our lowest income students. pic.twitter.com/V8vKIaanbg— Karyn Polito (@MassLtGov) March 1, 2018
The plenary sessions began with a presentation by DHE Commissioner Carlos E. Santiago and Board of Higher Education Chair Chris Gabrieli, outlining today’s challenging landscape for higher education institutions in Massachusetts and nationally, and some ways that those challenges can be turned into opportunities for the Commonwealth’s public higher education system. The conferees also heard from Education Secretary Jim Peyser and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
A series of breakout sessions allowed for smaller group discussion on topics ranging from presidential evaluation to diversity in leadership positions to enrollment trends. The day was capped off with a panel discussion about free speech and diversity issues on higher education campuses, featuring representatives from Framingham State University, Salem State University, and Bunker Hill Community College who spoke about their own institutions’ experiences. “The panel discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion was a compelling conversation that provided great insight and actionable ideas that will help our Board navigate these issues on campus,” said JD Chesloff, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and vice chair of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Board of Trustees. “The Conference provides a terrific forum for relevant topics like these to be discussed respectfully and thoughtfully, and offers great value to college and university trustees.”
Over the next year, DHE staff will continue to provide support for members of all public higher education institutions’ boards of trustees and will make plans for the next conference, which will build on the success of this convening. The date and topics for that event are still to be determined, but will rely on robust feedback and input from trustees.