It’s Time for Alumni to Directly Elect some of the Trustees

Over the years, there have been changes at Colgate that have transformed the DNA of the ‘Gate – and not in a good way.

There has been an explosive growth in the number of staff; faculty voted again to ban additional Greek chapters, which the trustees rubber-stamped; and the trustees continue to ignore an ever-increasing number of alumni and students expecting reform in governance at our alma mater.

The cost to attend Colgate has increased each year for the past ten years – more than double the rate of inflation.

Reasons for this have included a wild expansion in the number of those on the payroll. Since 1986-87, when the student body was roughly the same size as today, about 2900 students, there were only 107 staff employees. Today, the number has exploded by 783% to 945 staff, plus 286 faculty!

This means there is one person on the Colgate payroll for every 2.4 students! Even childcare centers don’t demand that level of oversight.

There are other reasons for the high costs of a Colgate education: mis-managed capital construction projects; too few students in a class to justify paying a professor to teach it; a building boom that included a university take-over of many of the business properties in downtown Hamilton as well as the privately-owned Greek houses; a change in the hiring criteria that diminishes the importance of faculty teaching in more than one area of expertise; a retirement package for faculty that saddles the school with a current liability of $26 million.

We propose a solution: demand transparency and accountability by giving alumni the ability to directly vote for one-third of the members of the Board of Trustees. Other fine universities allow this. In fact, at schools like Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Cornell, and Amherst, alumni elect an average of 33% of the policy makers of the school in direct elections.

How could giving alumni a voice through direct elections be wrong? What do you think? Take our poll and let us know where you stand.

Dr. Peggy Ward
A Better Colgate