74% favor direct election of Colgate Trustees

Colgate’s Board of Trustees is chosen by the Board Nominating Committee, which is appointed by the chairman and includes eight trustees and one faculty member. Their recommendations are then ratified by the self-selected Board of Trustees.

Should Colgate alumni be allowed to vote for one-third of the Board of Trustees in direct alumni elections?

Poll April 23 – May 9, 2012.

Yes – 58.6%  (333 responses)
It will increase alumni involvement and bring much needed transparency to policy making at Colgate

Yes – 15.3% (87 responses)
One-third is the right number; two-thirds will still be chosen by those in power.

No –  2.8% (16 responses)
Elections are divisive and losers may withdraw their support from Colgate.

No – 11.6% (66 responses)
The system has been in place since Colgate’s founding, and it seems to be working fine.

Not Sure – 7.0% (40 responses)
Neither side has sufficiently made their case.

Other 24 4.2% No Responses 2 <1% Total Responses 568 100%

Representative Comments of the 120 received

  • The process needs to become more transparent and open. The current system feels like the old fraternity selection process of 40+ years ago.
  • I don’t know whether 1/3 is the right number, but yes, I certainly agree that the broader Colgate alumni body should be able to vote for some meaningful portion of the CBOT
  • They want our money. Why not our vote?? If we vote, perhaps they will get more money. Those in power have no real monopoly on wisdom and ideas. The rest of us graduated too. Join the 21st century, and allow direct voting. Enough already.
  • How is it that free, fair and open elections are to cornerstone of the American Republic and progressive values, critical to good corporate governance, and the most vital export of the west to the world at large, but “divisive and distracting” when applied choosing the leadership of our college. That LITERALLY makes no sense.
  • Without alumni involvement through the ballot the top administration officials have become laws unto themselves effectively reporting to no one. This has resulted in bad policy and decisions in such areas as admissions and sports and too much say by the faculty. Alumni representation through the ballot is needed to attain the necessary balance between academics, sports, and social in order to be a top notch college.
  • Perhaps the nominating committee should be broadened to include parents of students, students and alumni who are not on the Board.
  • The system has not been in place since Colgate’s founding. It was changed in the early 1970s, if I recall correctly.
  • How will alumni be made familiar with the backgrounds and motivations of the candidates for the Board of Trustees? What defines a quorum for the alumni votes; i.e., are we really better off with a system in which only a few alumni vote? Why is the current system broken?
  • Both Harvard and Princeton have alumni elect some trustees. Why not Colgate?
  • The current process is self-serving and continues on the good ole boy network. The University is not well run and when I was on ACBOD, I saw enough waste and incestuous hiring as well as Board appointments that turned me away from Colgate. It’s unfortunate because I love the school.
  • It’s about time Colgate’s Board of Trustees stops hiding behind the “elect your buddy” process and opens up to a broader selection process.
  • I’m also a Harvard Medical School graduate, and we get to elect ALL of our trustees.
  • Provide compelling, succinct arguments for YES vs. NO.
  • Alumni keep the school moving forward. I am concerned about the cost of attending Colgate. The current-previous administration has not addressed this issue.
  • Just common sense – we need more transparency. Adapt or die.
  • Board meetings should be open and reported to student body and alums. The goal is a shared vision and the best way to get there – not a power struggle. If just a few alumni respond it is a good indication that a few “squeaky wheels” are seeking power.
  • Leaving the system the way it is makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Educators in this country are sorely out of touch with the needs of the business community, and Colgate is likely no exception. While I strongly support the need for the liberal arts education, when students, educators and the business community have equal inputs, the result will be better. The system as it stands at Colgate does not achieve this very well.
  • Bring transparency to the fiscal decisions of the Board of Trustees, which is totally lacking.
  • Alumni Engagement allows us to retain a sense of ownership and rekindles the positive Colgate experience. Deferring to others does not accomplish that.
  • I’m uncertain as to why this issue is so confrontational – and would tend to believe that “neither side has made a compelling case” for their position. Transparency is generally a good. Since the University encourages alumni involvement in many other areas, I don’t see a problem here.
  • The change is much needed, for times have changed and there is need for greater participation in decision-making and transparency in conveying information, as to how and why certain decisions are made and what policies result from them.
  • I personally have two close friends on the Board. I think it is ludicrous that we do not have open elections. Colgate is run in a fashion that is counterproductive to the goals of a true university. Many changes are needed and this could be a first step to making Colgate an innovator in higher education.
  • I’ve always thought the trustees were the puppets of the administration. The furor raised by Tim Sanford’s efforts to get direct elections demonstrated the fear of loss of control by the president & administration. Why not try democracy for a change?
  • I believe the appropriate term for the current system is oligarchy. Outsiders need not apply.
  • I would like to learn the background about how Colgate came to this model of leadership. It is common in other organizations, too. There are several models to choose from. Perhaps the Board Nominating Committee could put forth several options, outlining the benefits of each one. That would make it something fair to vote on.
  • Totally reasonable, why not?????
  • I am an alum whose support of Colgate, while extensive and varied in nature since I’ve graduated, has not included that which is monetary. I feel that this bars me from participating in Board of Trustees and alumni council elections, although I think that I would be an asset to the university, and that I could aptly represent a demographic that seems overwhelmingly underrepresented among the current groups.
  • They used to choose two people and have an election when I graduated.
  • However this is concluded, major donor support for Colgate must not be adversely impacted. Many Trustees are major donors.