Oakton’s Educational Foundation to Receive 2024 AGB John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership

The Oakton College Educational Foundation Board of Directors is one of the four institutions receiving the 2024 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership by the Association of Governing Boards.
Des Plaines, Ill. (Jan. 17, 2024) – The Oakton College Educational Foundation Board of Directors has been selected to receive the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB). AGB and its mission partner, TIAA, present the Nason Award, established in 1992, to higher education governing boards that demonstrate exceptional leadership and initiative.

“The partnership between Oakton College and the Educational Foundation is essential to advancing Oakton’s bold vision of building just and thriving communities,” said Joianne L. Smith, Ph.D., Oakton College president. “We are very grateful for the Foundation’s ongoing support and congratulate the board on the award.”

This year’s honorees were chosen from a diverse array of nominations, illustrating the essential
work of boards from four-year public and private colleges and universities, two-year institutions, and institutionally related foundations.

“We are very excited to receive this recognition,” said Murray Sprung, Oakton College Educational Foundation Board of Directors president. “Our board has endeavored to establish policies and practices that are comparable to those of the country’s highest-performing higher education charitable boards. The award is a tribute to the board's commitment, thoughtful leadership, and engagement in ensuring we are well-equipped to achieve our mission ‘to enable the student success’ for those enrolled at Oakton College, now and in the future.”

The board sought the award after a five-year evolution, transforming the foundation from an organization largely focused on financial stewardship into a substantial student-success enabler via board development, a renewed institution-foundation partnership, and a deep commitment to students, the College, and the broader community.

With the help of an enthusiastic board and senior leadership, the foundation prioritized donor engagement and fundraising performance, increased scholarship support by 54%, provided significant funding for health and safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, helped launch the College’s Emory Williams Academy for Black Men, and more.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the Association of Governing Boards,” said Katherine Sawyer, Oakton College Educational Foundation executive director. “The award is a testament to the work of the board and the trust extended by our donors as the foundation supports the educational goals of Oakton students and invests in academic degree and training programs that serve our shared communities by creating economic, social and cultural mobility for credential earners.”

The Oakton College Educational Foundation Board of Directors is one of four institutions receiving this year’s Nason Award. Other recipients include the Babson College Board of Trustees, Saint Peter’s University Board of Trustees, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation Board of Directors.

“Like presidents and other higher education leaders, governing boards are constantly looking for inspiring stories to celebrate, emulate, and reflect on,” said Ellen Chaffee, AGB interim president and CEO. “The selection committee felt these four nominations deserved recognition for the work they have done for their students, their communities, and their institutions and foundations. I am deeply impressed by the honorees’ achievements, and I look forward to seeing where they go next.”

The Nason Award is named for higher education leader John W. Nason, who served as the chair of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and helped more than 4,000 interned students continue their college studies across the nation during World War II. Learn more about AGB’s Nason Award at AGB's website. AGB is the premier organization advocating strategic board governance in higher education. TIAA is a Fortune 100 financial services organization dedicated to helping its clients pursue financial well-being.