The backdrop to the conversation is a period of change at the University and for the governing body. The appointment of a new vice-chancellor triggered the changes. A new institutional strategy raised the question of whether the University’s governance would be able to support and accommodate a faster pace of change? Following a review, the size of the board was reduced, and a number of committees abolished: as a result ‘everybody sees everything’. In parallel to these changes, the frequency of board meetings was increased to monthly. In determining membership of the governing body a clear distinction was made between the Board and the role of the Court – the forum for stakeholder representation.
Changes were made to how the Court operated, so it became a more effective forum for stakeholders. External advice on who should sit on the Board suggested the need to appoint individuals who understood ‘the core product of higher education enterprise’, and who could align themselves with the organisation’s values. There was also a need to turn ‘a group of individuals into a team of governors’. The importance of mutual trust and respect between governors and the executive is stressed, and the relationship judged to work best when there is clear understanding of the different roles. Achieving a common understanding is important, and spending time to create the ‘soft space for board relationships to blossom’ is an important part of relationship building.