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About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing 825 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 

AACN Moves to Adopt New Governance Structures to Better Serve the Needs of Academic Nursing

Published May 13, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC, May 13, 2019 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is moving forward with plans to update and expand its governance structures to ensure that the organization remains nimble and responsive to the needs of its diverse membership. The chief academic administrators from schools affiliated with AACN voted to amend the association's bylaws to accommodate these changes at the Deans Annual Meeting held in Washington, DC in March 2019. Based on recommendations advanced by AACN's Governance Task Force, proposed changes to AACN operations will impact the size and constitution of AACN's Board of Directors and Nominating Committee, the composition and structure of committees and advisory groups, the creation of new advisory councils, and membership criteria in AACN. Specific innovations include:

  • Expanding the number of seats on the AACN Board of Directors from 11 to 13 seats with the addition of two leaders from practice.  

  • Limiting service on the Board to no more than 4 terms (8 years). 

  • Naming the President/CEO as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Board. 

  • Adding an additional elected seat to the Nominating Committee. 

  • Allowing electronic voting at the Board's discretion. 

  • Designating committees as either Board Committees or other Advisory Committees/Councils. Board Committees include the Finance, Audit (new), and Governance (new) Committees. 
  • Forming two new councils, including a Joint Council comprised of the chairs of committees, task forces, advisory groups, like-school groups, Leadership Network steering committees, the Leadership Council of the Graduate Nursing Student Academy, and other internal groups to engage with and share feedback directly with the Board of Directors; and an Advisory Council to include external stakeholders from a variety of sources, such as consumers, the public, higher education, and business. 
  • Requiring AACN member institutions to have one or more nursing programs accredited or pursuing accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or other U.S. Department of Education-recognized nursing accreditation agency.

The amendments to AACN's bylaws, which are needed to move these recommendations forward, were approved by AACN members in March 2019.  Governance changes will be implemented over the next two years.

Background

In 2014, the AACN Board of Directors established the Futures Task Force to develop recommendations regarding potential new efforts that can be implemented to support the mission of the organization and ensure support for the development of a nursing workforce for the future. As part of its charge, the task force conducted an organizational assessment to determine if AACN is well positioned to meet the needs of all internal and external stakeholders given the expansion of our mission and reach. In order for AACN to truly serve as the catalyst for innovation in nursing education that will improve health and health care, the task force recommended in its final report that AACN "explore opportunities for alternative governance structures that will support nimbleness, innovation, timeliness, collaboration, and inclusivity (e.g., advisory councils, different board models, expanded memberships, emphasis on generative role for governance)."

In Summer 2016, the Board of Directors established the Governance Task Force, chaired by former AACN President Fay Raines, to carry forward the work of the Futures Task Force. The charge to the Governance Task Force included exploring governance structures that support nimbleness, innovation, timeliness, collaboration, and inclusivity; and considering advisory councils, different board models, and new opportunities to engage AACN members and stakeholders. Following numerous feedback opportunities with the AACN membership, the Board of Directors approved the final report and recommendations put forward by the Governance Task Force in July 2018.