Access to the Board of Trustees is currently limited to observer roles for both students and faculty, but that may soon change. At the June Trustee’s meeting, the Board will consider faculty and student proposals to add confidential voting members to committee meetings.
The idea was brought to the faculty Committee and Student Senate last fall by newly-elected Chair of the Board Richard Riddell.
“The idea is to enhance the governance of the Board of Trustees by including some faculty and student voices on the committees,” Chair of FASComm and Professor of Physics Tom Moses said. He noted that roughly half the schools in the ACM already follow this system.
The Board of Trustees meetings are broken into different sections. Trustees first meet within seven committees, followed by a closed general meeting where committee motions are brought to the floor and voted on. Last is the open meeting where decisions that have been made are announced to faculty and student observers.
The proposed change would allow selected faculty and students access into six of the seven closed committee sessions. These committees make the decisions that are then voted on before the general meeting. While sworn to confidentiality, these representatives would have voting privileges and represent the interests of the faculty and students.
The seventh committee, which handles internal personnel selection, is closed to non-Trustees.
Sophomore Sofia Tagkaloglou, Chair of Student Senate Sustainability Committee and current observer to the Board, approves the move.
On the role of the observer, Tagkaloglou said. “You’re just kind of reporting on what’s happening, but by the time you go back to report it, there’s nothing that can be done. I really like that they want to engage students and professors into a more active role and really have a say on the governance.”
In the April faculty meeting, members of the faculty voted to approve the measure. They will later select three faculty members to serve as representatives.
“I think we’re excited about this,” Moses said. “I think it’s a step forward to have faculty voices in the Board’s decisionmaking, helping to inform those decisions and provide a perspective that they might not get otherwise.”
The Student Senate proposal is still in progress, but Senate President and senior Charlie Harned believes either three or six representatives will be selected from the student body. This would be done either by a college-wide vote or a vote within Student Senate. An interview process with current observers is also under consideration.
“I think one of the most valuable things would be the Board of Trustees, which is the governing body for the college, will have access to a student’s voice, students’ opinions and just access to student life,” Harned said. “Right now … there is no way for them to, in the committee meeting, turn to the student and say ‘How will this affect students on campus?’”
Moses anticipates that, if passed by the Board in June, the new faculty and student members will begin serving on the Board at the October meeting.