Understanding Michigan’s elected University governing boards – Part 2

Explore the responsibilities of these boards and how the public can become involved and attend the meetings.

The first article in the three-part series, “Understanding public university governing boards,” highlighted the University of MichiganMichigan State University and Wayne State University as university governing boards that are selected by Michigan voters. This article concentrates on the responsibilities of these boards and how the public can become involved or attend their meetings.

The governing boards of all three schools are publicly elected by Michigan voters. Each board has eight members, who serve eight-year terms without compensation. By law, these boards are the governing body for the institutions and provide general supervision.

Authority is given to each board as a whole rather than to individual regents, trustees or governors, and individual members have little authority and no ownership of the institutions. It is the board, in its entirety, that is recognized as the legal owner of the institution's assets. As individuals, a board member is typically expected to support the institution financially, either personally or through influence. Board members also act as ambassadors to build support for the institution.

A detailed article is available, explaining additional expectations and roles of board members. Of note, is that the board chair is responsible for setting the agenda of the board. Most often this agenda is established in collaboration with the university president. The board has several basic responsibilities, including setting or reaffirming the university’s mission, selecting a president, evaluating and supporting the president, setting board policies and reviewing institutional performance. Boards are also involved with institutional fundraising and strategic planning. Each board determines the number and type of committees they believe will serve the institution best. Examples of committee’s members can serve on include, Committee on Academic Affairs, Committee on Budget and Finance, or Committee on Student Life and Culture.

Most meetings of these university governing boards are open to the public. Board and committee meeting schedules are posted along with rules for public comment for the University of MichiganMichigan State University and Wayne State University.

The final article in this series will focus on how these board members are selected and how to learn more about the individuals that will appear on the Michigan November Ballot.

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