A Sample of Alumni Election of Trustees at Some Prestigious Universities and a few notes about Accreditation

Regarding Accreditation:
Colgate University cites the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation (MSCHEA) as a credential of support for why the current style of governance is acceptable.

From its website, http://www.msche.org:
“The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several locations internationally.

“The Commission is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources. It examines each institution as a whole, rather than specific programs within institutions.”

Four of the eight Ivy Leagues schools, Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown do NOT use this accreditation body.

Williams, Amherst, Middlebury and Tufts do NOT use this accreditation body.

Of the 519 total institutions of higher education that use MSCHEA, only 51 are non-profit private baccalaureate colleges/universities.

The Accreditation body is comprised of volunteers from other academic institutions, a pool of “educational insiders.”

According to Jim Muzzy ‘ 67, a former school superintendent and high school principal who participated in several accreditations evaluations, “Faculty and administrators from the evaluated school along with faculty and staff from neighboring comparable institutions, as visiting evaluators, derive the re-accreditation rating from what is essentially a self study. It becomes an opportunity for self-congratulatory boosterism.

“Seldom are any significant shortcomings detected or reported. It all boils down to you scratch my back and later I’ll scratch yours. The process is highly political. The resident staff campaigns to get visiting evaluators to make recommendations they haven’t succeeded in accomplishing within their own institutions processes. Thus pet projects or petty complaints are dressed up and danced out as valuable reasoned recommendations, whether those changes have institutional merit or not. The resulting synopsis and overview is almost always very positive and congratulatory giving the evaluated institution some key phrases to publish about how well it is doing.”


Alumni Election of Trustees:
ADP = Alumni donor participation rates sourced from US. News & World Report 2010 “America’s Best Colleges.

Amherst College, Amherst, MA
ADP = 60% 20 Trustees

The Board of Trustees consists of the college president, 14 term trustees elected and then appointed by the Board and six alumni trustees elected by alumni body.  All serve 6-year terms, with appointed Trustees eligible for two terms and elected alumni eligible for one term. One alumni trustee is elected each year; six elected alumni trustees sit on the board. The 14 appointed trustees are comprised of Amherst alumni and non-alumni.

Nominations & Balloting: The Society of the Alumni annually elects one alumni trustee to serve a six-year term on the Board of Trustees. The Nominating Committee is charged with selecting a slate of alumni candidates for the election and works from August through December of every year to identify, interview and select the candidates. The Committee selects three nominees for each Alumni Trustee vacancy and secures their consent to run for Alumni Trustee.

The Inspectors of election of alumni trustees each serve a term of one year with a preference for staggered three-year terms. The Inspectors oversee the Alumni Trustee election, receive and count votes and ballots. Voting members of the Society of Alumni include graduates, recipients of honorary degrees, and non-graduates who have matriculated and whose classes have graduated.

Colby College, Waterville, ME
ADP = 47% 24-35 Trustees
The President, for the time being in office, is a trustee ex officio. The number of trustees may never be greater than 35 nor less than 24. The Colby College Alumni Association (Council) is entitled to elect not fewer than six nor more than nine of the trustees for terms of three years, and one third of such alumni trustees shall be elected each year.
Nominations & Balloting: At its regular fall meeting, the council shall nominate by ballot one person for each vacancy in the office of alumni trustee, which will occur at the next commencement. Affirmative votes of the majority of the members of the present council shall be necessary to nominate, but one percent of the alumni qualified to vote a petition over their own signatures for the nomination for the office of alumni trustee.
If there are petition candidates, the election shall be held with a printed ballot, returned in a secrecy sleeve. The information shall be sufficiently extensive to enable the voting members to form a fair and just appreciation of all candidates. A ballot committee counts the votes.

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
ADP = 32% 64 Trustees

The alumni elect eight trustees for staggered terms of four years each, with at least two elected each year. Forty-three trustees-at-large are elected by the trustees with ten up for election each year; there must be two elected each year from each of the fields of agriculture, business and labor. Two trustees are elected by the faculty and two others by the students. The remaining eight trustees are designated by virtue of their elected office by the citizens of New York, appointment by the governor or lineage to Ezra Cornell.

Nominations & Balloting: Ballots are mailed to alumni in January, but online voting was available beginning in 2008. The Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations of the Cornell Alumni Federation accepts and recruits nominations for four candidates for the two seats. Their positions on various issues are set forth in the ballot brochure and appear online. Replacement ballots are available through the Alumni Office. At-large trustees may be nominated by any trustee to the Committee on Board Membership.

Dartmouth college, Hanover, NH
ADP = 51% 26 Trustees

After an extensive debate and litigation between trustees and alumni, the governing board changed the school’s tradition since 1876 of an equal number of Board appointed and alumni elected trustees. The change doubled the number of charter Trustees from eight to 16, while maintaining the number of Alumni Trustees at eight. All Trustees may serve two, four-year terms. The Board of Trustees elects the chairman.

Nominations & Balloting: The Alumni Council nominates a single candidate for each Alumni Trustee vacancy. Petition candidates are allowed and have six weeks to collect 250 signatures to place their name on the ballot. There are no restrictions on campaigning. The time between certifying the ballot with names of petition candidates and Alumni Council candiates and the completion of online voting is six weeks. Each eligible voter has one vote. A majority of votes cast determines the winner.

Davidson College, Davidson, NC
http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x8356.xml; http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x1343.xml
ADP = 54% 42 Trustees, plus five ex offico

Twenty-four of the trustees represent the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), sixteen of which are confirmed by the presbyteries within the State of North Carolina, and eight at large from the national membership. Twelve Trustees are elected at-large by the trustees themselves, at least four of whom shall be alumni. Alumni elect the remaining eight trustees who may serve four years. In addition, five members of the board serve ex officio, including the president-elect and president of the National Alumni Association, the chair and past chair of the Board of Visitors, and the president of the college.

Nominations & Balloting: Each year, all alumni may vote on-line for two alumni trustee candidates, generally from among four candidates. The Alumni Council vets nominations.

Duke University, Durham NC
ADP = 36% 36 Trustees plus the president ex officio

Twelve trustees shall be elected by the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church; twelve by the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church; and twelve by the graduates of Duke University. Terms shall be so arranged that four Trustees shall be elected by each Conference and four by the graduates every two years. No person shall serve more than two consecutive six-year terms, with renewed eligibility for election to the Board following not less than two years’ absence of membership. The Alumni may consider and make recommendations to the President and to the Board of Trustees regarding any and all phases of education and alumni affairs of the University.

Nominations & Balloting: Any student, faculty member, alumnus, Trustee, or other friend of the University may offer candidates for consideration. A roster of such candidates shall be kept in the office of the University Secretary, and it shall be reviewed whenever vacancies are expected to occur. The Executive Committee shall then make its recommendations to the Board of Trustees, and the Board, after hearing the recommendations of the Executive Committee, and by a majority of the Trustees present at any regular meeting, shall nominate the persons to be elected Trustees and submit its nominations to the appropriate conference of the United Methodist Church and the graduates.

Hamilton College, Madison, NY
ADP = 48% 36 Trustees.

The Board of Trustees elects 24 “Charter” trustees to staggered six-year terms. Twelve Alumni Trustees are by the Alumni Association to staggered four-year terms.  Major donors are sometimes given the honorary title of “Life Trustee”.

Nominations & Balloting: The Alumni Council places names in nomination for alumni trustees. Alumni may submit additional nominations for alumni trustee by petition, each of which requires at least 25 signatures of association members. In the case of a contested election, a printed ballot is sent to all alumni.

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
ADP = 40% 7 Executive Board; 30 Overseers

The University has two governing boards. The Harvard Corporation – known formally as the President and Fellows of Harvard College – is the University’s seven-member executive board responsible for the day-to-day management of the University’s finances and business affairs. Significant matters of educational and institutional policy are also brought before the President and Fellows by the President and Deans. The Board of Overseers consists of 30 members who are elected at large by graduates of Harvard and Radcliffe. The Board of Overseers exerts broad influence over the University’s strategic directions, provides essential counsel to the University’s leadership on priorities and plans, has the power of consent to certain actions such as the election of Corporation members, and directs the visitation process by which a broad array of Harvard schools and department are periodically reviewed. Both the Corporation and Overseers must approve major teaching and administrative appointments.

Nominations & Balloting: In early January, the Harvard Alumni Association Nominating Committee presents a slate of nominees for six, six-year terms. Ballots for the election are mailed by early April and completed ballots must be received by the end of May. Individuals wishing to seek nomination may file a petition with 250 signatures by early February; at least two petition candidates were on the 2009 ballot. The HAA Board of Directors appoints the 15 members of the Nominating Committee for 3-years terms. Alumni are encouraged to suggest candidates each year to the chairman of the Nominating Committee. Even though election and administration officials are supposed to remain neutral in the election, the University has a history of officially opposing petition candidates.

Haverford College, Haverford, PA
ADP = 47% 33 Board of Managers; 3 are ex officio: the President and secretary of the corporation and the President of the College

Haverford College is unique among Quaker institutions in that it has a three-unit governance structure: the Corporation, the Board of Managers and the Alumni Association. The Corporation holds the assets of the college, elects the members of the Board of Managers, and can make changes to the By-laws. The Board of Managers selects the college president, establishes policies related to governance, academics, and resource management.

The Board of Managers is comprised of a minimum of 13 persons who are members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker); the remainder are members of the Corporation Board and the Alumni Association. Board Managers may serve four three-year terms. Managers nominated by the Alumni Association are limited to a maximum of two three-year terms.

Nominations & Balloting: The Corporation Nominating Committee recommends twelve Managers. The Board of Manager Committee on Nominations and Governance nominates twelve and the Alumni Association Nominating Committee nominates six. The Alumni Council is comprised of active alumni, all of whom are eligible to vote for the Association’s six nominees to the Board of Managers as well as the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
ADP = 59% 33 Trustees

Seven members are Charter Trustees selected by the Board; 19 are Term Trustees selected by the Board of Trustees; six are Alumni Trustees elected by alumni. The president of the college is a trustee during his/her tenure. All trustees may serve two five-year terms.

Nominations & Balloting: No information on process available on-line.

Oberlin College, Oberlin OH
ADP = 47% 34 Trustees, president is ex officio member of the Board

Oberlin is unusual among liberal arts colleges in that, since 1878, six of the 34 seats on its Board of Trustees are filled through direct election by the alumni. Each alumni-elected Trustee serves a six-year term, and the terms are staggered so that one Alumni Trustee is elected each year. Twenty-one trustees are Board-elected trustees. Three additional Class Trustees are elected, one from the class most recently graduated, and one each from the two preceding classes; each is elected for a term of three years.

Nominations & Balloting: Any alumnus/ae may self-nominate. No minimum number of petition signatures is required. Any person upon whom the College has conferred a degree is eligible to vote. On-line voting handled via advance registration. The Board of Canvassers (the Secretary of the College and the Director of Libraries) certifies the results of the election. Of the two candidates, the one receiving the most votes wins. The two candidates on the ballot have been selected in accordance with Article I, Section 4, of the Bylaws of Oberlin College. The Trustee Search Committee of the Alumni Council certifies that each candidate has agreed to serve if elected.

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
ADP = 60% 23-40 Trustees, President of University and Governor of NJ are ex officio

Since 1900, Princeton alumni have elected a meaningful number of Trustees. Currently, the Board of Trustees is comprised of 13 Alumni Trustees (elected to four-year terms), 12 Term Trustees (appointed to four-year terms), and 12 Charter Trustees (appointed to 10-year terms).

The Alumni Council uses a committee of 8-12 alumni to filter out the 3-4 candidates to be voted on by the alumni.  Serving on the Council and this committee, in particular, are coveted positions and the vetting process is thorough.  So much so that the alumni candidates who are not elected to an Alumni Trustee position are often selected by the Board to serve as Term Trustees.

Nominations& Balloting: Any alumnus/ae may self-nominate; there is no requirement for a minimum number of petition signatures. Each year the current junior and senior classes and the two most recently graduated classes elect a member of the senior class as an Alumni Trustee. Alumni may vote using secure online site access information about the candidates and about the election. The Committee to Elect Alumni Trustees oversees the election.

Tufts University, Medford, MA
ADP = 24% 40 Trustees

Alumni Trustees comprise 25% of the Board. Ten Alumni Trustees are elected by ballot by and from the alumni, to serve for terms of five years. Two are elected each year from a competitive ballot slated by the Alumni Council Nominating Committee. Thirty Charter Trustees are elected by the trustees for two five-year terms and may be re-elected after a break of one year.

Nominations & Balloting: Charter Trustees may nominate up to two members. Ballots are required only if three members or more who are present for the election request it. Alumni trustees are elected by ballot annually through procedures approved by the Alumni Council.

Wesleyan university, Middleton, CT
http://www.wesleyan.edu/alumnitrustees/ http://www.wesleyan.edu/accreditation/2007/standard_3.htt
ADP = 51% 33 Trustees

Nine members of the Board are selected by direct ballot of the alumni body, with three elected for three-year terms each year. The Alumni Council determines the slate for the alumni ballot. The Board elects other members for terms of six years; the majority of whom must be Wesleyan alumni. The Governance Committee of the Board is responsible for nominating individuals for election by the Board at its annual meeting. While there are no term limits, the current expectation is that Board-elected trustees will serve one term, unless there are compelling institutional needs for an individual to continue for a second term.

Nominations & Balloting: Self-nominations for Alumni Trustees are accepted without a minimum requirement for petition signatures. The Nominating Committee of the Alumni Association recruits and vets candidates and solicits nominations for the next year while alumni are considering their current vote. Print ballots are being phased out to on-line voting.

Williams College, Williamstown, MA
ADP = 60% 25 Trustees, including the President of the College

Since 1868, alumni vote to elect a candidate to the Board of Trustees to serve as an Alumni Trustee. There are 14 Regular Trustees, elected by the Board for as many as three five-year terms, five Alumni Trustees serving one five-year term; and five Term Trustees elected by the Board for one five-year term.

Nominations & Balloting: Self-nominations are permitted. The Nominations Committee of the Society of Alumni recruits and vets candidates for the slate ballot of three candidates. All alumni are eligible to vote each year for one of three alumni nominees. Voting begins online early each year, with a follow up paper ballot sent to those who have not voted electronically.

Yale University, New Haven, CT
http://www.yale.edu/about/bylaws.html; http://www.aya.yale.edu/corpelection/process.htm
ADP= 41% 19 Fellows

Six Alumni Fellows are elected by the alumni, one each year, for a six-year term. Ten “Successors to the original Trustees” elect their own successors for no more than two six-year terms, except in special circumstances. Three members ex officiis: the President of the University and the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Connecticut.

Nominations & Balloting: An Alumni Fellow Nominating Committee is appointed each year to poll widely among alumni and University personnel for possible candidates, conduct extensive research on the careers and public records of possible candidates, and then compose a slate of from two to five candidates to present to alumni. The ballot may contain no more than five names, with a maximum of three petition candidates. The petition process requires collection of a number of petitions equal to 3% of the prior year’s number of qualified electors. On-line balloting is available to alumni with an e-mail address; all others are mailed a paper ballot. Candidates may self-nominate on-line. The Yale website provides an excellent timeline for handling the elections. http://www.aya.yale.edu/corpelection/timeline.htm