President's Perspective: Governance Matters

Ushering in a visionary way of operating at CASE

By Sue Cunningham

Sue Cunningham

Sue Cunningham
President and CEO of CASE


Global Governance Steering Committee

CASE is grateful to all who are involved in this journey, especially to the Global Governance Steering Committee members who have defined and guided our work:

Co-Chair: J. Michael Goodwin, Oregon State University Foundation
Co-Chair: Sue Cunningham, CASE President and CEO
Jo Agnew, University of Western Australia
German Campos Valle, Universidad Anáhuac Mexico Norte
Brett Chambers, CASE Vice President of Volunteer and Member Engagement
Liesl Elder, University of Oxford
Teresa Flannery, American University
Sergio Gonzalez, Brown University
James Harris, University of San Diego
Lori Houlihan, University College London
Tricia King, CASE Vice President of Global Engagement
Michael Lavery, Brand & Reputation, Ltd.
Peter Mathieson, The University of Hong Kong
Ron Mattocks, CASE Chief Operating Officer
Rickey McCurry, University of Tennessee
Barbara Miles, University of British Columbia
James Moore, University of Illinois Foundation
Anton Muscatelli, University of Glasgow
David Shepherd, United World College of SE Asia
Beth Smith, Arkansas State University

Picture an association—let's call it CASE—with 11 governing bodies. (Eleven!) Some predate the association's formation, others developed more recently as CASE expanded globally. Each body has myriad responsibilities.

Now imagine an association governed by a single global board. The board provides legal and fiduciary oversight and is advised by regional councils focused on programming and member service around the world. District cabinets at the local level identify and deliver key priorities for member engagement. This is the CASE of the future.

The CASE Board of Trustees, at its most recent meeting, unanimously approved this new governance design to provide a more seamless, efficient, and nimble means to serve and engage CASE members. The design represents a visionary new way of operating at CASE, one that clarifies responsibility while strengthening our ability to provide meaningful, impactful programming at the local level.

We are very grateful to the many thousands of CASE volunteers and members who have shaped the new governance structure and the strategic plan that it will help deliver. Volunteers are and will remain core to the ethos and delivery of our member services. It has been a pleasure to work closely with our regional and district boards and other volunteer groups to achieve this milestone. The new model has been endorsed by every CASE regional board and seven of the eight district boards thus far.

The new governance structure is now moving into a more detailed planning stage in preparation for full implementation by mid-2020. Over the next months, many CASE member institutions and existing governing bodies will be asked to approve changes related to the new governance design.

The design is the result of months of consultation and consideration. As we worked on our strategic plan, "Reimagining CASE," which involved more than 2,500 CASE volunteer leaders, employees, and members, it became clear that our strategic success depended on updating our governance structure. There was an increasing realization that—while our numerous governing bodies have served us well throughout our history—if we set out today to form an association like CASE, our governance undoubtedly would be far simpler.

CASE's new governance model

CASE'S NEW GOVERNANCE MODEL features a global board responsible for policy, legal, and fiduciary oversight; regional councils that advise on strategy, growth, and activities; and district cabinets that identify and deliver key priorities for member engagement at the local level.

Under the current model, CASE volunteer leaders are tasked with numerous administrative and operational responsibilities. (Just one example: The required audit and government reports from the various governing boards presented at the last Board of Trustees meeting weighed in at 300-plus pages!) The new model frees volunteers from the responsibility for tactical and operational oversight, allowing us to make best use of their considerable expertise on strategy, content, and member engagement. Simply put: As is true of the best volunteer engagement, we will be asking them to do what only they can do, as opposed to replicating tasks done by staff in other parts of CASE.

The next phase will be the most important part of this process. Working with our district and regional boards, trustees, directors, and staff, we will explore the details and co-create the right structures and next steps. We are listening intently and will take the time to get it right. There are many matters to be addressed, including bylaws to be updated and approved, and important actions to be taken by each of the current fiduciary bodies. Staffing, budget, and operational implications need to be carefully considered. Much work remains, and I am grateful to our trustees and directors for their leadership and confidence in this direction of travel.

The care and thought that so many have given to this process have been heartening. At each turn we have been driven by this question: What is best for our members? Our goal is to ensure that the benefits of the new governance structure are fully experienced by all who work to advance education to transform lives and society.