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Revisit Board Policy Manual at least once in awhile

I’ve been focused on the Board policy manual lately. Instead of being a robust, living guide for students, staff and faculty, the WCC Board Policy Manual is where Trustee oversight goes to die.

Henry Ford College’s Board reviews its policies every 3-5 years and conducts a legal review. With good reason. 20-year old policies won’t provide adequate cover for the College. Community requirements and value change too quickly.

For example:

Policies. The Board of Trustees shall adopt written policies governing the operation of the Community College District and the employment of all personnel. Such policies shall be recommended by the President and shall include appropriate classification of personnel, terms of employment, and compensation schedules. The President shall keep the Board fully advised as to the need or desirability of any changes in these policies.

The first sentence commits the board to adopting policies governing operations and employment. The word “shall” is unambiguous. The Board must – without exception – adopt written policies governing operations and employment. The second sentence identifies the origin of the policies and their contents.

Taken together, a person could reasonably interpret the first two sentences to mean the Board has no choice but to adopt the employment recommendations of the President. If we know the predetermined result, why involve the Board at all?

Minimally, the manual uses faulty language. (It could also explain why the size of the administration grew by 57 people in 9 years.) Additionally, the manual does not reflect deletions in the Board Policy Manual. Keeping track of the deletions is important. How can you know where you’re going without also knowing where you have been? The Board-should review and update all policies in the Board Policy Manual. Regularly.

As though it were just part of the job.

Photo Credit: Marco Verch, via Flickr