Bill Schubart

A failure of governance

The Burlington College controversy provides an object lesson on the roles and responsibilities of nonprofit boards — and the consequences of insufficient oversight

I've been watching the national effort to politicize Burlington College's demise and am saddened by the venality of our politics and our dangerous ignorance of nonprofit governance.

It's endemic in Vermont, where too many of our major nonprofits have limped through a decade or two of unreviewed leadership performance, mission decay, and disconnection from constituents because their boards have no idea what the obligations and liabilities of board members are or even what board service means.

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I won't dwell on the details of Burlington College, except to say that the entire fault lies with the board. It can be said that Jane Sanders, its former president, has a checkered history leading colleges, but all presidents serve at the will of their boards.

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