Senate meets in Hooker Auditorium, discusses Board of Trustees

 Photo by Casey Pan ’18  Lenore Reilly listens as Liz Brown ’20 takes questions from students regarding the Board of Trustees.

Photo by Casey Pan ’18

Lenore Reilly listens as Liz Brown ’20 takes questions from students regarding the Board of Trustees.

BY  MERYL PHAIR ’21

The first SGA Senate meeting of the 2018 year was held in Hooker Auditorium last Tuesday, the official new location due to the closing of Blanchard Great Room, where it was previously held. One of the main topics of discussion for the night was Mount Holyoke’s Board of Trustees.

Liz Brown ’20, chair of Senate, addressed attendees while explaining one of her priorities for the semester. 

“We want to start this new semester by giving you the tools that you need to advocate for yourself and for your constituents to influence the Board of Trustees, because they make a lot of very important decisions that impact our lives as students,” Brown said. 

Speakers for the evening included Lenore Reilly, senior advisor to the president and secretary of the College and assistant professor of Education, as well as Shannon D. Gurek, vice president for Finance and Administration. They addressed how the Board of Trustees functions and what students can do to influence its decisions. 

The Board of Trustees is made up of a maximum of 34 members, although, as Reilly explained, “We rarely have that many [in attendance]. We usually have about 31.” 

The Board votes and approves substantial capital requests, all tenures and promotions brought forward from the education committee, recommendations to configure all degree and honorary degrees and the College’s budget. The Board functions in a committee structure with members who are scattered across the United States. Each member serves a five-year term, with the exception of a position for one young alumna who serves a shorter period of just three years. 

There are several committees which meet as part of the process. They span a range of areas including Executive, Advancement, Audit, Conference, Education, Enrollment, Finance, Institution Risk, Investment, Nominating and Governance, Professional and Graduate Education and Student Affairs committees. Each one  has a board member as chair and a staff member who works closely with them, helping to set their agenda and organize meetings. The Student Affairs Committee, in particular, meets at Mount Holyoke College three times per academic year. In the 2017-2018 period they met on Oct. 12–14, on Jan. 18–20 and will be coming back to campus May 3–5. 

Reilly addressed student frustration with the Board’s limited presence on campus. 

“I know that can be disempowering,” she said,  “to have this board that’s only on campus three times a year. But this is not a group that comes to campus and wants a lot of free time. They are working from the minute they get here.” 

The Board of Trustees engages with faculty and the student body in various ways, according to Reilly. In the past, they have met with students at breakfast, held student athlete dinners and met specifically with students of color before faculty meetings in an effort to answer questions.

Reilly added that she has recently talked to the Board about having open town hall meetings with students in order to address concerns and facilitate dialogue.

Reilly encourages students who have ideas about interacting with the Board to contact representatives on the student affairs committee. Emails can be sent to studentconferencecommity@mtholyoke.edu or sga@mtholyoke.edu. 

Weekly Senate meetings are held every Tuesday from 7:30-9 p.m. in Hooker Auditorium.

Mount Holyoke News

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