The role of university secretary is crucial and misunderstood. I mentor university secretaries to help them navigate the dynamics they face in their roles.

Consulting Services

Cheryl works with university governance professionals, board chairs, incoming board chairs, committees, and full boards to assist them individually or as a group.  In both cases, the goal is increased board effectiveness, improved decision-making, and better governance.

Here are some of the situations in which Cheryl’s clients have sought advice and support:

  • To review the governance model and identify opportunities for improvement and modification.
  • To improve board effectiveness, relationships, and/or engagement.
  • To ensure that the board meets its obligations in a specific situation e.g. the organization is looking to undertake a large transaction (partner with another organization, acquire a piece of property, build a new building) and wants to understand the governance impact and role of the board.
  • During a difficult period such as organizational restructuring, termination of the employment of the President or CEO, conflict with a stakeholder or partner, litigation, or other organizational crisis.
  • Change in organizational direction or strategy.
  • To mentor board members.

Chairs of boards or committees also consult Cheryl to support them in their leadership roles. In any one or more of the scenarios above, a board leader will seek advice and support to lead the board in such a way as to ensure the board meets its obligations to fully explore the options, consider all necessary information and reach a defensible decision.

Training, Education, and Assessment

An effective way to improve board functioning is through training and education sessions.  Cheryl will work with your governance professional to design a training program to respond to specific concerns. In addition, offer training in the following specific areas:

Board Orientation

This is a governance primer developed for your board with a focus on the particular context in which your board operates includes:


  1. Governance 101 – general governance principles;
  2. Overview of your governance framework (legislation, by-laws) and how that applies to what you do every day;
  3. Your unique context: legislation, stakeholders, public policy, particular governance challenges, and how this affects board decision-making.
University governance primer

This is a governance primer developed for those in the university sector.  It includes:


  1. Governance 101 – general governance principles;
  2. Overview of your governance framework (legislation, by-laws) and how that applies to what you do everyday;
  3. Your unique context: bicameralism, “Compliance U”, stakeholders, public policy, particular governance challenges and important concepts such as “academic freedom”, and “freedom of speech”.
The Board’s role in risk management and compliance

This session covers the board’s role in risk management and compliance with a focus on:


  1. Risk management overview;
  2. Effective risk management;
  3. A critical overview of your organization’s risk management and compliance measures.  
Improving the Relationship between the Board and Academic Governing Body

If the dynamic between your board and your academic governing body is less-than-ideal, Cheryl will provide a review and a set of practical recommendations to improve the relationship and effectiveness of the working relationship between the governing bodies.

Effective decision-making

This session focuses on all of the ways in which a board can ensure that its decisions are effective and defensible with a focus on:


  1. Getting the information you need;
  2. Asking the right questions;
  3. Effective use of a stakeholder framework;
  4. Hiring experts when you need them, and;
  5. Follow-up and measurement. 

Short Programs

The following are examples of short 90 minute to two-hour sessions to be offered alone or combined to make a half-day session:

  • The Board’s role in equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Board recruitment with a focus on planning, diversity, and balance
  • Board communications and stakeholder engagement
  • Routine approvals: is your board asking the right questions?
  • The Board’s role in crisis management
  • CEO/Executive Director/President performance management

Board Assessment

One of the best things a board can do is reflect on its own performance, discuss it, and set goals to improve it.  Cheryl will design a self-assessment tool, administer it, and deliver a session in which the board will discuss the results.  Ideally, this assessment process will be repeated at regular intervals (annually or every two years), and will result in a list of goals and steps to be taken to address performance concerns – these goals and plans to address them become your board’s governance improvement plan.  

Board Policy Development

Cheryl will work with you to prepare a framework for board policies and procedures to improve board effectiveness.  A policy framework helps the board articulate its direction and operational practice and also delineates what is board business, committee business, and what should be delegated to the organization itself.  This can be expanded to draft specific board policies and procedures. 

Working with You

As a board or board governance professional, you play a vital role in ensuring that your organization fulfils its role and mandate.  The role of a board is a challenging one and the task of taking on a leadership role in a board can be daunting.  Fulfilling these roles is crucial to the success of your organization. Having worked with boards for over 20 years, Cheryl is passionate about the role the board plays and about helping boards improve their effectiveness. Cheryl looks forward to working with you.  


We understand that university budgets are constrained.  As such Cheryl’s rates are deeply discounted for universities.  Please contact Cheryl to discuss your consulting needs and budget.  

Coming Soon

A certificate program in governance for university governance professionals through the Centre for Higher Education Research and Development (CHERD).

Send Cheryl an email if you’re interested in finding out more.

The Book

This book introduces you to the aspects of university governance that are unique. It’s a book intended to help you learn about the sector more quickly so that you can contribute more fully and feel more engaged.

Contact Cheryl to Discuss Your Governance Questions