I. Setting the Stage

Chapter 4. Responding to Authority: Delegating and Establishing Accountability

Dr. Ed Ray

Chapter Overview

Everybody has a boss. Every president or chancellor reports to an institutional and/or a system board. In relation to the board or boards, it is important to have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of board members and the president/chancellor. New board members require orientation and perhaps some training, and board appointments should be time limited. Bylaws, policies, and procedures need to be clear and non-contradictory. There should be a doctrine of no surprises between the president/chancellor and the board(s) on all important policy matters.

Leaders rarely begin a position with a blank slate in terms of the leadership team within the university and the roles and responsibilities of each team member. It is critical to keep duplication to a minimum for team and leader effectiveness. There must be policies and practices to assure that assigned roles within the institution and with external constituencies are clear and to assess the effectiveness of the leader and those with delegated authority to act on behalf of the institution and achieve agreed-upon results. The board(s) and president/chancellor need to agree on internal and external responsibilities.

  • Inside baseball and outside baseball. Who is in charge?

Given the critical importance of alignment in long-term objectives of the board and the president/chancellor, how can communications between the two be kept clear and timely? How are differences resolved? How can a board delegate but verify internal effectiveness by the president/chancellor? How can the campus leader reduce duplication of effort by defining and enforcing the roles and responsibilities among members of the leadership team? Given the external roles of both the board and the campus leader, how do they support each other’s efforts effectively?

  • Annual agendas, assessments, and outcomes.

Based on one-to-one relationships with each of her or his leadership team members, how can a leader set policies and procedures that assure minimal duplication of effort, ensure accountability by those who have delegated authority, and assess whether or not outcomes meet expectations?


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A Handbook of Higher Education Leadership Copyright © 2024 by Dr. Ed Ray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.