Open leadership – reflecting on my role as Chair of ALT (2) #altc

As the nominations for ALT trustees are now open, in this post I am going reflect more on the general duties and responsibilities of a being Trustee. (In the first post in this series I reflected on the staff development aspect of my role as Chair of ALT).

Why would anyone want to be a Trustee of ALT? We’ll if you are reading this post, there is a fairly high chance that you know about ALT already, are a member (either individual or through your institution’s organisational membership) and so are part of the ALT community. The Board of Trustees is just another level of community involvement. Our community is at the heart of what we do, and the community element of the association is at the core of my tenure as Chair.

Certainly, it is the most formal part of the community, in that as a registered charity ALT needs to have an official board to oversee all its activities and comply with all the relevant legal requirements as laid down by the Charity Commission. All Trustees have responsibility to ensure oversight of all the workings of the association, including its finances. As Chair, it is my responsibility to ensure that due diligence in relation to all our formal and legal procedures are being adhered to, that the work of the association is related to, and supports our strategy and our values.

However the reality of being a Trustee is not about formal, stuffy board meetings, with endless “I refer you to section 2.4 of the paper 9 . . .”. It is much more engaging (and interesting). The Board meetings are where the Board, with the senior ALT Staff review progress, discuss plans and generally ensure that ALT is working in the best interests of its members and wider community. To get an idea you can review the minutes of previous meetings.

The practical elements of being a Trustee are outlined here, but the main thing is to be able to attend the face to face meetings. Of course, you don’t have to attend them all, many of us have joined meetings remotely – and having a Trustee based in Australia means that an element of remote participation is a given just now. However being able to attend the meetings is really important, so if you are thinking about putting forward an nomination, just check that you can get the time to attend. ALT cover travel expenses, so in ever shrinking budgets that is one less thing to worry about. I should point out that Trustees, like all other members, have to pay to attend our annual conference and the OER conferences. We also have monthly update calls with ALT staff, which all Trustees can attend but don’t have to. These meetings really just keep us updated of activities/issues in between board meetings. Again in my role as Chair, I do have to attend and chair those meetings too.

There are a range of activities that Trustees can get involved in, many are already involved in various ALT committees, SIGs, the journal etc. ALT is increasingly being asked to contribute to various panels, or respond to wider surveys. Again if you have a particular interest then you can get more involved in a range of activities. But be realistic about the time you have to commit. I have never found the time commitment onerous, but then again I have been careful not to over commit. Being Chair does have more time expectations, but again I have not found that an issue. Partly that is due to the fact that we have a very capable and organised staff team.

It is important that the Board has a broad cross section of membership to ensure that we can, as much as possible, represent all our members. We currently have a relatively diverse board, however there are still significant steps we can take to improve that.

Over the next year we will be developing a new strategy so that will take up a lot of time, and actually is a really exciting time to get involved as the new strategy forms. You have until June 10th to submit your nomination. And of course if you would like to know more or have an informal chat about being a Trustee then please just get in touch.