Jan. 26, 2022
Board of Visitors recognized for leadership in justice, diversity, equity and inclusion
The board was recognized for its leadership in approving the removal of Confederate symbols from VCU’s campuses, and its creation of a policy to determine how the university names its spaces.
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The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the premier organization representing higher education governing boards, in partnership with TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services organization dedicated to helping its clients pursue financial well-being, today selected Virginia Commonwealth University’s Board of Visitors to receive the 2022 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership.
Established in 1992, the Nason Award is presented to higher education governing boards that demonstrate exceptional leadership and initiative. In addition to confronting the significant effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the six recipients of this year’s award addressed pressing issues related to justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.
"It is a real honor to be recognized by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges for the board's commitment to promoting an inclusive experience at VCU," said H. Benson Dendy III, rector of the VCU Board of Visitors. "We are deeply passionate about helping our students succeed and to do that, we need to facilitate an educational experience that is welcoming and engaging for everyone."
VCU’s Board of Visitors and five other boards were chosen from a diverse array of boards from public and private institutions, statewide systems and institutionally related foundations.
VCU’s board was recognized for its leadership in unanimously approving the removal of Confederate symbols from VCU’s campuses, and the board’s creation of a transparent, overarching policy, “University Recognition Through Naming,” to determine how the university names its spaces. In addition, work done by the VCU Committee on Commemorations and Memorials provided history and context that led to the board’s unanimous decision to remove Confederate symbols.
"I am so proud that our board received the 2022 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership," said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. "Our board members bring a diversity of experience, ideas and backgrounds, which is so important in helping VCU fulfill its mission."
In addition to VCU, boards representing Adler University, Community College of Rhode Island Foundation, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Southern California University of Health Sciences, and University of Memphis received awards.
“Strategic governing boards are critical to higher education’s success — not only to the financial vitality of the institutions and foundations that higher education boards oversee, but also for the millions of students who enroll and graduate every year,” said Henry Stoever, president and CEO of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. “It is also evident that boards have an important role to play in elevating justice, diversity, equity and inclusion throughout campus and in the boardroom. We hope that recognizing boards who serve as dedicated, strategic thought partners with chief executives and leadership teams will give others the courage to lead in a similar fashion.”
Recipients of the 2022 awards will be honored at the Foundation Leadership Forum (Jan. 30-Feb. 1) and the National Conference on Trusteeship (April 12-14).
The award is named for higher education leader John W. Nason, who served as chair of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and helped more than 4,000 interned students continue their college studies across the nation during World War II. Learn more about the Nason Award at AGB.org/Award.
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