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Standard 4: Leadership and Governance

The institutions system of governance clearly defines the roles of institutional constituencies in policy development and decision-making. The governance structure includes an active governing body with sufficient autonomy to assure institutional integrity and to fulfill its responsibilities of policy and resource development, consistent with the mission of the institution.

Fundamental Elements of Leadership and Governance

An accredited institution is expected to possess or demonstrate the following attributes or activities: 

  • a well-defined system of collegial governance including written policies outlining governance responsibilities of administration and faculty and
    readily available to the campus community;
  • written governing documents, such as a constitution, by-laws, enabling legislation, charter or other similar documents, that:
    • delineate the governance structure and provide for collegial governance, and the structures composition, duties and responsibilities. In proprietary, corporate and similar types of institutions, a separate document may establish the duties and responsibilities of the governing body as well as the selection process;
    • assign authority and accountability for policy development and decision making, including a process for the involvement of appropriate institutional constituencies in policy development and decision making;
    • provide for the selection process for governing body members;
  • appropriate opportunity for student input regarding decisions that affect them;
  • a governing body capable of reflecting constituent and public interest and of an appropriate size to fulfill all its responsibilities, and which includes members with sufficient expertise to assure that the body's fiduciary responsibilities can be fulfilled;
  • a governing body not chaired by the chief executive officer;
  • a governing body that certifies to the Commission that the institution is in compliance with the eligibility requirements, accreditation standards and policies of the Commission; describes itself in identical terms to all its accrediting and regulatory agencies; communicates any changes in its accredited status; and agrees to disclose information required by the
    Commission to carry out its accrediting responsibilities, including levels of governing body compensation, if any;
  • a conflict of interest policy for the governing body (and fiduciary body members, if such a body exists), which addresses matters such as remuneration, contractual relationships, employment, family, financial or other interests that could pose conflicts of interest, and that assures that those interests are disclosed and that they do not interfere with the
    impartiality of governing body members or outweigh the greater duty to secure and ensure the academic and fiscal integrity of the institution;
  • a governing body that assists in generating resources needed to sustain and improve the institution;
  • a process for orienting new members and providing continuing updates for current members of the governing body on the institutions mission,
    organization, and academic programs and objectives;
  • a procedure in place for the periodic objective assessment of the governing body in meeting stated governing body objectives;
  • a chief executive officer, appointed by the governing board, with primary responsibility to the institution; and
  • periodic assessment of the effectiveness of institutional leadership and governance.