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American University | Board Policies


A.    Selection Criteria for Trustee Nominees

       Nominees to the American University Board of Trustees will demonstrate as many of the following characteristics as possible for consideration as a candidate to the Board of Trustees:

  1. Clear understanding of and willingness to work actively to promote the interests and quality of the university;
  2. Influence at the local, national, or international level that could be used in support of the university and its programs;
  3. As means and time permit, a capacity and willingness to make significant contributions and/or assist in the university’s fund-raising efforts;
  4. Leadership ability;
  5. Special skills, talents, or interests that could prove of value to the university;
  6. Ability to attend and be involved regularly in Board and committee meetings and other university activities;
  7. Ethnic, gender, professional, and geographical diversity;
  8. A relationship with the university -- e.g., alumnus/a, parent of a past or present AU student, member of a school or college advisory council, friend of the university, etc. -- other than being a university employee. The university’s Bylaws do not permit a current university employee to be a voting trustee (the exceptions – all non-voting trustees -- are the university president, two faculty members, and one student); and
  9. A lack of any potential conflict-of-interest (e.g., Board membership at a competing university).

       The Board will energetically seek trustees with diverse backgrounds and experiences. The Board recognizes that a robust diversity of backgrounds among the trustees will add significantly to the quality of the Board and its deliberations. Further, a key consideration in the selection of trustees for a distinguished academic institution such as American University is to find persons who deeply support, respect, and value highly the life of the mind.

B.    Orientation of New Trustees

       Orienting new trustees to the university and to the work of the Board is an important function of the Board. The Trusteeship Committee is responsible for developing and overseeing an orientation program for all new trustees. The program should address what is expected of trustees as well as how the Board is expected to work. The Secretary of the University is charged with administration of the program, with oversight by the Trusteeship Committee and Board officers.

C.    Review and Evaluation of Trustee Effectiveness

       The performance of individual trustees will be evaluated formally at least every three years near the conclusion of a Board member’s term. Approximately six months before the end of a “class” of trustees’ term, the Trusteeship Committee will ask them if they wish to be considered for re-election to another three-year term. All those who wish to be considered for re-election will be required to submit to the Trusteeship Committee a confidential self-evaluation on a form provided by the Trusteeship Committee. The Trusteeship Committee will assess each trustee’s performance based on the self-evaluation and other factors including the “Statement of Commitment and Responsibilities of Trustees of American University,” confidential peer evaluations of the trustee’s contributions to committee and Board meetings; Board meeting attendance records; financial contribution records (both lifetime and during the past three years); and records of university involvement (e.g., membership on advisory councils, fundraising leadership, etc.). Criteria for individual trustee effectiveness are listed below.

  • demonstrated active involvement in Board and university activities in ways that promote the welfare and quality of the university;
  • regular attendance and effective participation in Board and committee meetings;
  • involvement in university activities other than Board meetings;
  • use of special talents, abilities, or professional relations to benefit the university;
  • financial support of the university with payments kept current;
  • assistance in development and fund-raising programs; and
  • compliance with the Trustee Conflict of Interest policy.

       Further, recognizing the increasing importance of assessment’s value not only for individual performance but also for organizational performance, under the leadership of the Trusteeship Committee, the Board should take advantage of periodic external evaluation in order to have its performance assessed independently and professionally. Among the criteria for Board effectiveness should be:

  1. enhancement of the public image of the university;
  2. progress toward accomplishing Board-approved goals;
  3. active support of the president and an annual review of performance;
  4. significant funds contributed and raised;
  5. effective oversight of financial resources;
  6. effective oversight of academic resources;
  7. assurance of successful implementation of the strategic plan;
  8. promotion of the well-being of faculty, students, administrators, and alumni;
  9. visible participation in campus events;
  10. periodic assessment of Board’s performance, leading to Board development and renewal;
  11. Board and committee meetings arranged and conducted efficiently, with clear and tangible outcomes and assigned responsibility for implementing decisions; and
  12. Board and committee meetings focused on major issues with genuine significance for the university.

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