The Tie That Binds: Trusteeship, Values, and the Decision-Making Process at AME-Affiliated HBCUs

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This study aimed to discover how trust is established during the decision-making processes of boards of trustees at private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This study also aimed to address if and how board composition and individual board members’ value systems play a role in the decision-making process and work of the board. Using a multi-site case-study approach, currently serving board members of 3 African Methodist Episcopal church-affiliated HBCUs were interviewed regarding the way in which they engaged with the presidential selection process at their institution. Major findings from this study were that personality and character traits of presidential candidates may have a heavier influence on the perception of candidates’ suitability than their resume or past performance. Furthermore, there was a direct reflection of board members’ values in the personality and network traits found desirable and nondesirable in presidential candidates. These shared values create a sense of trust between board members and candidates, which in turn affects which candidates do and do not have a viable chance of attaining the presidency. These findings have implications on board member selection and training at HBCUs, and they provide insight into the role of culture in governance practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-421
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Higher Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Black colleges
  • board of trustees
  • governance
  • HBCUs
  • leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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