Board Responsibilities

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by James W. Wilkes, President, Midcoast Senior College
November 2018

The Midcoast Senior College (MSC) board of directors believes that strong board leadership is fundamental to a strong and effective college. When asked to explain what the MSC board does, I turned to a book I have used as my bible in the nonprofit world since 1988. Richard Ingram’s Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards is now in its third edition and published by BoardSource.

The Midcoast Senior College board of directors:

1. Is responsible for ensuring that MSC’s mission is clearly stated and advocates for it

  • The mission statement serves to guide board and staff decisions about programs, volunteer initiatives, and priorities among competing demands for scarce resources

2. Selects the executive director and determines what the executive director does

  • Board of directors sets policy, plans, and strategy
  • Executive director executes policy, completes plans, and implements strategy

3. Supports and evaluates the executive director

  • The board provides personal and organizational support for the executive director’s leadership
  • At least annually, assesses the executive director’s performance

4. Ensures effective planning

  • All programs support and promote the mission and goals of MSC

5. Monitors and strengthens programs and services

  • Determines which programs are consistent with mission, and monitors their effectiveness

6. Ensures adequate financial resources

  • Assists in developing the annual budget, and ensures proper financial controls are in place

7. Protects assets and provides proper financial oversight

  • Protects fiduciary responsibilities (public trust)
  • Safeguards assets and holds them in trust 

8. Recruits competent members to the board who bring specific, needed skills

  • Articulates prerequisites for board positions
  • Orients new board members
  • Assigns members to chair committees in administrative, finance, development, other areas
  • Periodically evaluates its own performance

9. Ensures legal and ethical integrity, and maintains accountability

  • Adheres to legal standards and ethical norms, including: compliance, transparency, accountability

10. Enhances MSC’s public standing

  • Serves as a link between the college, its members, and the general public
  • Acts as MSC ambassador and advocates for the college