Navigating the Storms: A Primer for Private College Trustees

The trustees of private colleges are being challenged as never before to be mission-driven, clear about institutional priorities, tough-minded in assessing their risks and available options, and open-minded to various forms of restructuring including mergers, joint ventures, teach-out partnerships, and even dissolutions. Unfortunately, few private colleges have experience in dealing with these issues. However, as we describe in Navigating the Storms: A Primer for Private College Trustees, they can learn from the deeper experience of other types of nonprofits—social service agencies, hospitals, cultural institutions—that have faced similar issues. Although private nonprofit colleges seldom self-identify as nonprofits, they share fundamental features while being more complex in their uniquely competitive market, shared governance, alumni, deep connection to place, and complex regulatory framework.