I would like to begin this article by saying how honored I am to serve as the first Student Trustee at Colorado College. I am extremely committed to hearing your ideas and serving as a liaison between students and the board. So please post any comments, questions, and areas that require a more in depth discussion on sites.coloradocollege.edu/studenttrustee. I feel accountable for each and every one of you, and I endeavor to increase understanding and communication between students and trustees.
The primary role and function of the board of trustees:
The Board of Trustees is essentially responsible for ensuring the success of our institution. The board focuses on long-term goals, and therefore must balance both present and future needs. Above all else, trustees are fiduciaries of the college and stewards of the college’s assets. A main function of the trustees is to engage in fundraising activities and lead in giving what(???) (back to the community?) (the school great events to raise money?).
Additionally, three of the Board’s four standing committees concern business and finance. Among other things, the Investment Committee monitors and manages our endowment, the Audit Committee reviews and approves CC’s annual independent audit, and the Budget & Finance Committee monitors revenue generation and expenditures. The forth-standing committee, Governance, oversees and supports the general operation and structure of the Board. There are also currently five strategic project teams based around shorter-term initiatives.
Additionally, the Board of Trustees is given the authority to hire and terminate the President, as well as approves large structural changes, like the renovation of El Pomar, Slocum, and Ticknor. The board also sets overall strategies and policies for the College. For instance, this July, the Board of Trustees held a retreat and appointed President Tiefenthaler to lead the campus in crafting a strategic plan. The board will review and approve the proposed plan next summer.
This is an important distinction to highlight, however, for while it is the Board’s responsibility to approve the College’s strategic goals, it is the President’s responsibility to implement those goals and report back to the Board. Trustees hold a governance role, but managing the performance and daily operation of our institution is the responsibility of the President alone.
Board structure and member selection:
Colorado College has a private, self-perpetuating board. It is written in the Board’s bylaws that the board chooses its own members, as do all private institutions. This is in contrast to, for instance, the Colorado State University System, in which the Governor appoints members to be confirmed by the State Senate. This process can be politically charged, whereas our board has the liberty to appoint trustees they feel are understanding of and committed to CC.
There are 34 trustees total, including President Tiefenthaler and myself. Currently 28 trustees are CC alums. The present Board consists of:
- 26 Charter Trustees – elected by a majority of the board, serving renewable four-year terms.
- Three Alumni Trustees – elected by alumni at large and proposed to the board for approval by a majority, serving six-year terms.
- The President of the Alumni Association Board (AAB) – Proposed to the board by the Alumni Association Board for approval by a majority, serving a two-year term.
- The Past President of the AAB – Proposed to the board by the Alumni Association Board for approval by a majority, serving a two-year term.
- One Young Alumni Trustee – nominated by the AAB, elected by the Board, and proposed to the board for approval by a majority, serving a two-year term.
- One Student Trustee – the student body nominates three candidates through election, final appointment and approval is by a majority of the Board, serving one-year term,
- The President of the college.
The student trustees role:
My role as the Student Trustee is to represent student thought and voice on the Board of Trustees. I am seated on the Investment Standing Committee and on the “Liberal Arts in the Digital Age” strategic project team. The idea of creating the student trustee position was met with enthusiasm from the Board. I’ve been truly pleased with the respect and legitimacy I’ve been afforded (and thus the student body has been afforded), as well as with the Board’s eagerness to better understand the student perspective.
The Student Trustee is both a board member and a student, which means that in addition to the principal task of working with the Board to move the college forward, he or she also has the opportunity to bring the student voice to the process. Each board member brings something to the table – whether it’s 30 years of investing experience or a commitment to fundraising efforts – and the Student Trustee brings a student perspective.
There is a lot to navigate in the unchartered first year of this position at CC, and I am learning the nuances between being a student who goes to board meetings, and being a board member who is the student representative. I am only in this position for one year, and as a student, I am only on campus for four. However, as a trustee I am committed to the long-term/future success of CC, and I make this my top priority, just like every other board member.
The point I would most like to impress is that it is a weighty, if not impossible job to represent the entire student body, which is why I will state again how committed I am to hearing your input! Obviously, it is hard as a single individual to speak on behalf of over 2,000 students, which is why I will reiterate the importance of communication. I sincerely endeavor to do my part in increasing avenues of communication and understanding between students and the Board – so please, I cannot wait to hear from you! Call me (603.667.0187), email me (Samantha.Barlow@coloradocollege.edu), write a comment (sites.coloradocollege.edu/studenttrustee), or I’ll take you to lunch!