Guide to Ethical Governance

Governing boards function best when the ethical standards for trustee behavior are clear. ACCT recommends that all boards adopt a set of standards, often called a "code of ethics" or "standards for good practice." Some regional community college accrediting commissions already require that boards have a code of ethics or similar statement in place.

ACCT has developed the following model code. Boards of trustees are encouraged to use this model as a starting point for discussion and exploration by trustees of expectations for their own behavior.

As a governing board member, I am required to:


  • Devote time, thought and study to the duties and responsibilities of a community college board member, so that I may render effective and creditable service.


  • Work with my fellow board members in a spirit of harmony and cooperation in spite of differences of opinion that arise during vigorous debates of points of issue;
  • Base my personal decision upon all available facts in each situation; vote my honest conviction in every case, unswayed by partisan bias of any kind; and abide by and uphold the final majority decision of the board.


  • Remember at all times that as an individual I have no legal authority outside the meetings of the board, and to conduct my relationships with the community college staff, the local citizenry, and all media of the community on the basis of this fact;
  • Resist every temptation and outside pressure to use my position as a community college board member to benefit myself or any other individual or agency apart from the total interest of the community college district.


  • Recognize that it is as important for the board to understand and evaluate the educational program of the community college as it is to plan for the business of college operations;
  • Welcome and encourage active cooperation by citizens, organizations, and the district media by communicating with respect to policy on current college operations and proposed future developments;
  • Speak with one voice as a board member once a board decision or policy is made.


  • Support the state and national community college trustees associations;
  • Strive step by step toward ideal conditions for the most effective community college board service to my community, in a spirit of teamwork and devotion to public education as the greatest instrument for the preservation and the perpetuation of our representative democracy.