Senate bill would add faculty and staff to college boards

Vermont Business Magazine On Wednesday, faculty and staff at Vermont’s public institutions of higher learning filed petitions and testified before the Senate Education Committee, asking lawmakers to require representation of these groups on college boards. administration of the University of Vermont and Vermont State Colleges. The law project, S.248, would also add additional students to boards and impose two-term limits on both boards. More than 26 percent of public universities in 13 states have faculty representation on their boards.

A union delegation delivered a petition with hundreds of signatures to the governor, legislative branch and education committees on Wednesday, and several people testified about the bill before the Senate Education Committee.

Professor Eleanor Miller, President of United Academics, explained the impetus behind the bill, saying: “Decisions made by boards of trustees are important. Decisions made by the Board of Trustees directly affect the quality of life for students and staff, and making the best decisions possible requires representation from key members of the UVM community, faculty, and staff. This bill aims to democratize the boards of directors of our public higher education institutions.

Linda Olson, Vice President of Higher Education for AFT Vermont and Professor at Castleton University added, “Vermont’s future workforce and economy depends on the sustainability of the education system. public superior of the state. As such, these institutions must be financially stable and affordable to students, and they must be governed by a diverse and representative board of trustees.

Abby Cohn, a Cornell professor and elected member of the Cornell Board of Trustees, said the Cornell University Board elected faculty, staff and student trustees. “Once elected, we are first and foremost members of the board, just like the other members of the board, whether appointed or elected. We function as full voting members of the Board of Directors with the fiduciary responsibility to represent the best interests of Cornell as an institution. The most important role we play, I believe, is having a voice at the table and being ears in the room.

Steve Howard, executive director of the Vermont State Employees (VSEA), quoted Governor Kunin in his testimony: “If you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu.

The committee discussed the bill and possible avenues given that it is the second year of the biennium and the crossover is approaching. The General Assembly is due to vote Thursday on the board members elected by the Legislature for Vermont state colleges.

Source: AFT Vermont. Montpellier 17.02.2022

Norman D. Briggs