The Committee on Nominations for the Board of Trustees selected candidates for the alumni-elected trustee positions for 2014 last weekend. Vice President for University Relations Barbara-Jan Wilson stated that the names will be announced in the coming days. Seniors will also be eligible to vote on the nominees later this semester.
On Saturday, Jan. 26, the chair of the Alumni Association, the Committee on Nominations, and staff from University Relations met at Usdan to finalize the ballot for the upcoming election. They chose six candidates from a pool of 40 nominees.
Senior Wesleyan Annual Gift (SWAG) Intern Daniele Packard ’13 said that continued alumni engagement with the University is vital.
“Your voice doesn’t end after you graduate,” he said. “You still have a voice; you’re still part of Wesleyan beyond your four years.”
Each year, Wesleyan alumni and the senior class elect three alumni to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees for three-year terms. Nine alumni-elected trustees, nearly a third of the Board, serve at any given time.
The Board is composed of elected and ex-officio trustees. The University Charter of 1907 stipulates that a majority of the elected trustees must be graduates of the University. The Board’s rights and duties include: to ordain and enact by-laws, ordinances, and regulations; to elect the president of the University; to set salaries and terms of employment of the president, faculty, and officers; and to remove from office any member of the faculty and employee of the University.
All alumni and current seniors are eligible to vote in the election. Voting opens in mid-April and closes at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 26, during Reunion and Commencement Weekend.
“I had no idea the senior class had a vote in electing new trustees,” Claire Dougherty ’13 said. “Do seniors know that they can vote and do they exercise it? Were we ever told or were we just supposed to find out?”
Committee Chair Susan Sutherland ’82 invited the alumni community to forward suggestions for candidature, including via an online form on Wesconnect, an alumni outreach website. Those submitting nominations are asked to consider the nominee’s contributions to the University as well as hir personal and professional achievements.
“Each year’s process formally begins the fall prior to the election when a subcommittee of alumni and staff meet in order to narrow down the pool of nominated alumni,” Wilson and Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Programs Adriana Rojas wrote in a joint email to The Argus.
Nominations are always accepted, Wilson and Rojas confirmed, though nominees may decline an invitation.
“Following that meeting, the alumni who are selected are invited to submit information, including an essay and updated bio, to be considered by the Committee on Nominations,” they wrote.
Sutherland presided over Saturday’s meeting. She began with a discussion about the goals for alumni-elected trustees. Following the conversation, potential candidates were reviewed one at a time.
Once all candidates were reviewed, members of the Committee voted for the slated six. The six on the ballot must include three who are 21-or-more years past graduation and three who are 20-or-fewer years past graduation.
The alumni-elected position is essential to democratic representation, students claim.
“It’s important that alumni always have a voice in establishing who gets a say in important decisions,” SWAG Intern and Red and Black Calling Society Manager Melody Oliphant ’13 stated.
The Board of Trustees is consulted for major decisions regarding the University, including, most controversially, the recent decision to end need-blind admissions.
“When students think about the Board of Trustees right now, they think about need-blind,” Oliphant said.
Many students expressed that alumni-elected representatives can bring an important voice to the discourse.
“I think the Board of Trustees is overrepresented by those of remarkable financial means, which is not necessarily representative of the alumni population,” Anwar Batte ’13 posited.
Joyce Y. Hall ’78, Bradley Whitford ’81 and Miguel A. Guadalupe ’98 were voted alumni-elected trustees in the past election cycle.