Higher Education Corporate Governance



We use our interdisciplinary platform and strategic, forward thinking approach to help our Higher Education clients meet their corporate governance goals of the future. We provide real life answers to your real life challenges.

Our approach

The future of the educational market is evolving.

The corporate governance models of 50 years ago are no longer viable for colleges and universities in today’s environment. More collaborative, imaginative and informed thinking is required to capitalize on strategic goals and adapt to increased public scrutiny and demands.

Our clients look to us for innovative, creative and forward thinking solutions.

We are experienced with the confluence of laws and rules that impact corporate governance—from state education law and accreditation standards to industry best practices and the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley. We help our clients avoid the ambiguities that hamper effective operation, advising on internal corporate relationship structures and clarifying the elements of good governance.

We use our cutting-edge perspective and capabilities—from negotiating presidential hiring and terminations, to compensation arrangements and advising on shared governance—to accomplish our client’s goals.

Who we work with

  • Research universities
  • Public universities
  • Small private colleges
  • Professional schools
  • Medical schools
  • Schools of the performing and visual arts

Recent Experience

  • Corporate governance: professional school affiliates itself with larger public university—A stand-alone professional school was performing well, but was concerned about its future prosperity absent a relationship with a larger institution. Many suitors were considered, and a public university looked like the best match. Our attorneys were involved early in the process, consulting with the board on the adoption of a “white paper,” setting forth the elements of an affiliation most important to the institution. All aspects of college operations were considered, from governance to tenure, accreditation to financing. The plan for affiliation was a graduated one with touchstones for shared control over time, culminating in a possible merger into the state university. We negotiated with the public institution, working with a team from across the school. The result was a combination celebrated by both institutions—and their state governor—as a model for collaboration by institutions of higher learning.
  • Corporate governance: by-laws and policies—We assisted university counsel and board committees on the review and update of institutional by-laws and policies, reflecting developments in federal and state law and assuring effective governance of the institution. Immediately after the adoption of Sarbanes-Oxley and now with the advent of the new form 990, we have been deeply involved in creating viable strategies to allow for more effective governance.

The Duty of Obedience in a Time of Change

Association of Governing Boards (AGB) Blog | June 07, 2016

Washington, DC, partner and leader of the firm’s Higher Education and Nonprofit Organizations teams Mike Cooney authored this column discussing the duty of obedience—a fiduciary duty of board members to ensure that the institution is operating according to its stated purposes in its governing documents.

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