UConn Seeks to Involve More Undergraduates in University Governance

A proposal presented to the Board of Trustees calls for students to have standing positions on the board's committees dealing with finance and student life.

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The UConn Board of Trustees on Wednesday was presented a plan that would give undergraduate students a greater voice in university governance.

The proposal would involve a change in university by-laws to permanently assign the board’s sitting undergraduate student trustee as a standing, voting member of its Committee on Financial Affairs, which discusses and acts on all significant financial decisions of the University, including budget, tuition, fees, and other fiscal matters.

As part of the plan, two additional undergraduate students, to be named by the Undergraduate Student Government, would serve as voting members of the board’s Committee on Student Life. This committee discusses and acts on matters of critical importance to students, including the campus master plan, housing, governance and funding for student groups and activities, health and safety, student conduct, and other topics.

By state statute, two students – one undergraduate and one graduate, each elected by their respective student bodies – currently sit on the UConn Board of Trustees. Student trustees hold the same fiduciary responsibility as every other member of the board.

“Students are the lifeblood of any great university, and UConn is fortunate to have two student trustees who provide vital input on the key decisions we face as an institution,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “The presence of these student trustees on the board is on par with models that exist at other leading public and private institutions. Providing even greater student representation at the committee level should further ensure our student voices are heard by the board – particularly on matters of the most critical importance to the student body at large.”

Committees of the Board of Trustees, which conduct initial deliberations, receive reports, and forward proposals for review and approval by the full board, are mostly comprised of board members, although some committees do include full voting members who are not members of the larger governing board. These committees interact regularly and extensively with university administrators in shaping institutional policy and direction.

The change, pending board approval at a future meeting, would be effective July 1, 2017. However, the plan could be superseded by any change to state statute that would alter the structure of the overall board to add new student trustees. In the event that change occurs, the board’s committees would retain their previous composition.