Arizona State University has 12 members of its board. University of Central Florida has 13 members. Ohio State University has 19 members.
These are the top three largest universities in America, whereas Penn State, the ninth largest, has 32 members.
Auditor General Jack Wagner outlined structural problems within the university, specifically relating to the Board of Trustees in a report released by his office, highlighting discrepancies with the governance and suggestions on how to ameliorate each of the problems detailed.
In the report, he suggested that the size of the board and the number of trustees with voting privileges needs to be reformed. And we agree. The 32-person board has 18 members with voting privileges at Penn State. Included within those voting privileges are the president of the university and the governor — both of which the report recommends removing as voting members.
Within the top 20 largest universities in the country, neither the president, nor the governor have voting powers.
Yet, Penn State does. Withdrawing voting power from the university president and the governor is an idea that should be taken seriously by the board. Wagner believes this is key in reforming the governance, and we do, too.
Highlighting the need for checks and balances, Wagner said there needs to be more accountability between the president and the board.
By removing these two positions from voting, it allows for more efficiency and fairness.
The governor should not be voting on budget-related issues for the university that his own position and office is deciding. Our president should remain a fairly separate entity from the board. The board needs to act in the best interest for the university, not in accordance with the interests of the president or the governor.
Our board should absolutely be downsized. When there’s an influx of people with varying agendas, it will be hard to effectively govern or change anything for the better.
Reducing the amount of board members would create an environment where members could more closely focus on tackling the university’s issues, rather than having a group of nearly three dozen, where productive or engaging discussion rarely has been demonstrated to the public.
Ultimately, we need board members who will act in the best interest of their constituents: the university – the students, the alumni, the community.