Board Roles and Responsibilities
(Approved by Mount Royal Board of Governors, October 5, 1988)
Governance practices are neither a panacea nor a “one size fits all” solution. These practices are, however, critical to the mission of the total institution, as they must engender widespread support by ensuring the effective and appropriate participation of key stakeholders.
The Mount Royal University ("MRU”) Board’s responsibilities are directed by the Post-secondary Learning Act of the Provincial Legislature, interpretation of the Act and the ensuing roles of the Board are available through the Guidelines for Boards of Governors as developed by the Advanced Education and Technology Department of the Alberta Government.
All members of the Board, including representatives of both internal stakeholders and the public, have responsibility firstly to the institution itself. The Board has further responsibilities to the community, the Government, the administration, faculty, support staff and to the students.
Recognizing these priorities and stakeholders, the Board’s roles and responsibilities are seen to be as follows:
Selecting and Appointing the President
Since the President is the central figure in Mount Royal with responsibility for implementation of strategy and policies to achieve Mount Royal’s goals, selection of the right person is critical.
Support the President
The President is the agent of the Board. The Board may at times act as a sounding board and advisor to the President. The Board also has at times responsibility to enhance the efforts of the President with communications to internal and external stakeholders.
Planning for the Succession and Monitoring of the President’s Performance
The Board has a responsibility to keep a watchful eye on the quality and performance of Mount Royal’s administration. They do this through an annual appraisal of the President’s performance. Mount Royal’s mission, vision and strategy will form the basis of the appraisal. The Board must also ensure the continuity of its policies through planning for the succession of the President.
Setting the Strategic Direction and Long Range Plans of the Institution
The strategic direction is driven by Mount Royal’s mission, goals, and vision, and must be discussed and agreed to by the Board. The work of the Board should be structured to reflect the institution’s strategy.
Clarifying the Institution’s Mission
The elements that distinguish Mount Royal must be monitored and reinforced. The Board’s role is to approve, revise, or offer alternatives, but not to draft.
Approving Business Plans and Monitoring Performance
Business plans are the tactics for achieving Mount Royal’s strategic goals. As in the formulation of the mission, the Board’s role is not to draft, but to insist that the processes be in place to ensure a high- quality product. The Board must play an active role in reviewing and monitoring the implementation and outcome of these plans.
Overseeing the Educational Program
It is appropriate for the Board to accept oversight responsibility for finances and physical plans and to reserve responsibility for the educational program to the administration and faculty. The Board should not attempt to set the curriculum. The courses to be taught and their content are the responsibility of others, but programs and broad admission standards are decided on by the Board.
Ensuring Financial Solvency, Management of Risks, and Regulatory Compliance
The Board holds the assets of Mount Royal in trust and has an explicit mandate to ensure strong budget planning and compliance with regulatory authorities, which may affect operations or create liabilities.
Preserving Institutional Independence
Autonomy is limited by law, by the necessary influences that go along with financial support (public or private), and by public policy in areas of public concern. The role of the Board is to defend the existence of Mount Royal, its programs and operations, and its right to manage its own affairs, including the need for academic freedom.
Enhancing the Public Image
A Board Member is identified with Mount Royal and has a public relations mandate. The Board Member has a further mandate to serve as an intermediary between Mount Royal and the Government and/or the Community.
Interpreting the Community to the Campus
The Board has a responsibility to enlarge Mount Royal’s vision by assisting faculty, support staff and administration to interpret the framework of the Community and the role of the institution in that framework, and to facilitate change when needed.
Serving as a Court of Appeal
The Board must ensure clearly established and publicized codes governing faculty, support staff and student status and behaviour, including provisions for due process.
Assessing Board Performance
In large measures, the quality of Mount Royal’s governance will determine whether it will thrive or even survive. The Board shares governance accountability with the administration, but has pre-eminent responsibility. Reviewing the President’s performance without a review of its own performance leaves no guarantee of effective governance.
Assessing Board Chair Performance
The Chair influences Board performance by setting agendas, providing information, and facilitating discussion. The Chair’s performance is a key performance factor and should be evaluated at least as often as overall Board performance.
The Board has a responsibility to ensure the effectiveness and functionality of this academic forum.