Rutgers University Senate
University Structure and Governance Committee
Report on Faculty and Student Board of Governors Membership

This report responds to the following charge:

Charge S-0401:  Student and Faculty Board Membership.  Investigate why there is no student voting representative on the Board of Governors in the spirit of N.J.S.A.18A:64-3.1, which states that the Board of Trustees of every state college must provide for the election of two student representatives who serve two-year terms and are voting members in their second year, considering that at Rutgers the Board of Governors is currently equivalent to the board of trustees at most New Jersey colleges.  Report back as to why this is not the case, and make appropriate recommendations as to if and how this issue should be pursued.  Investigate the same issues relative to faculty membership on the Board of Governors.  Respond to Senate Executive Committee by December 2004.

Background:  Student representatives of the Senate asked the committee to look into the matter of student representation at the end of last year and the committee promised to complete this task by December 2004.  Students desire to have voting representatives on the Board of Governors because of  the close connection between the decisions of the University's highest governing body and their educational goals and concerns. Because of work on the revision of the Senate's Bylaws and Handbook,  there was some delay.  Members  of the Executive Committee decided to broaden the charge to include an examination of faculty representation.   The committee looked only into student representation during the 2004-2005 Senate session, and recommended to the Executive Committee that the charge dealing with faculty representation be referred to the new committee for next year.

Findings:  The committee conducted a review in the fall of 2004 of student representatives on public University governing bodies based on the documentation that was available at that time.  Indeed, a significant number of public University systems have comparable voting student representation on their highest governing bodies.  We identified 22  public University systems with student representation. Many states also have student representatives on their state-level commissions of higher education.  The student members on Boards of Governors or Regents tend to be voting student members.  They are typically appointed by the Governor, although, at times., there is a role for student body presidents in the appointment.  The importance of such representation is already widely recognized in New Jersey. N.J.S.A.18A:64-3.1, states that the Board of Trustees of every state college must provide for the election of two student representatives who serve two-year terms and are voting members in their second year. year   Indeed, the Board of Trustees of Rutgers, the State University, recognized the need to update its own structure in 1991 by stipulating that 3 of the 28 Charter seats on the Board of Trustees would be granted by the Board itself to students with full voting rights.  The board seats for the  Charter trustees are mandated by “Rutgers - the state University law” of 1956 (19A:65-14d)  The Board of Trustees currently has three student Charter trustees with full voting rights. Two trustees are also elected by the University Senate as nonvoting representatives.  The committee finds that the representation of  Rutgers students with voting membership  on the highest governing body of the University, the  Board of Governors, would be reasonable based on  their concern for the quality of the educational opportunities offered by the University and the fact that - in coordination with its research and public service role -- the entire University exists for the edification and benefit of the students.  The opportunities for representation for Rutgers students should be in line with national standards at other public Universities and with state standards at other institutions of higher education.  Representation on the Board of Governors is consistent with the already-existing recognition of the importance of such representation by the Rutgers University Board of Trustees.

Analysis.  We have currently identified just three avenues through which the addition  of a voting student member to the Board of Governors could be implemented. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages and there may be other avenues that can be identified.  The three avenues are: First, the Governor could appoint a student to one of six Board of Governors seats reserved for appointments by the Governor.  It is not in the purview of the University Senate to advise the Governor on these appointees although we would not be opposed if it were to take place.   Second, the 1956 law governing Rutgers could be amended to allow for voting student representation on the Board of Governors.  Since the Board of Governors has a delicate and complex balancing of its eleven members between 6 seats appointed by the Governor and 5 seats appointed by the Board of Trustees, this would require more than the simple addition of a student voting seat.  It would take place as part of any  future comprehensive discussion of that law.  There are many aspects of the 1956 law that enhance and protect the University's ability to accomplish its mission of higher education and we are not advising amendment of the 1956 law at this time. Third,  the 1956 law currently stipulates that five of the eleven members of the Rutgers Board of Governors “ shall be appointed by the board of trustees from among their members.”  Since the Board of Trustees has three student Charter trustees who are its members, it is possible that the Board of Trustees could appoint one of the three student Charter trustees as a member of the Board of Governors.  This would require no amendment to the 1956 law.  Because the term for members of the Board of Governors is set at 6 years, such action, if possible, would require some examination by the Board of Trustees in order to determine how it would be carried out in  practice.

Recommendation:  The Senate makes the following recommendations to the President and through the President to the Board of Governors  under its advisory authority according to University Regulation 2.2.2 B:

1.    In principle, the Senate endorses a voting student representative on the Board of Governors.

2.    The Senate recommends that the President and the Board of Governors explore mechanisms for accomplishing the addition of a voting student representative to the Board of Governors and work with the Senate towards accomplishing that end.

Passed unanimously by the Senate's University Structure and Governance Committee, March 30, 2005