Know your university

Last year, Mount Allison students protested the senior administration’s plans to increase tuition for correspondence courses and cut the women’s and gender studies (WGST) program. In both cases, student protests were successful in reversing these decisions—at least in the short term.

Given that all major changes at Mt. A must be approved by the Board of Regents (BoR), knowing what the BoR is and how it works is an important first step to getting involved in the decision-making process on campus.

Board of Regents 

The BoR is responsible for the management and control of the university. Twenty-five regents sit on the board, including the university president, the MASU president, an elected student representative, the chancellor, certain faculty members, and other individuals, including some Mt. A alumni, who do not work for the university.

The current student representative is Willa McCaffrey-Noviss, who was elected for the second year in a row.

The board meets three times a year, in February, May and October. However, it is often the case that many regents cannot make it to the February meeting due to weather conditions. The meetings can only take place if quorum is reached, which requires eight regents to be present.

In addition to an executive, the BoR has numerous standing and ad hoc committees. The executive committee handles the general management of the university’s affairs throughout the year, such as investing or directing the endowment fund and hiring new employees.

Board committees

Standing committees are written into the board’s bylaws, which means they are permanent. Ad hoc committees are created during board meetings to deal with specific issues that come up and are dissolved once the issue at hand has been resolved.

For example, after DivestMTA advocated for socially responsible investing last year, the board decided to create a Responsible Investing committee to look into the issue.

Members of standing committees serve two-year terms, except for student members, who serve for one year. Non-regents can be appointed to a standing committee, although the majority of its members must be regents.

Standing committees include the Nominating and Governance committee, whose responsibilities include monitoring the board’s communication with the university community. This committee also assesses the effectiveness of the board, its committees and sometimes individual regents.

Executive committee

According to Dylan Wooley-Berry, last year’s MASU president, board meetings actually begin a whole week in advance at the executive committee meeting. The executive committee goes through the board package, which contains all reports and information that will be discussed during the meeting, and creates the agenda for the upcoming meeting.

Several days in advance, regents receive the board package. Regents cannot share the package itself with other people, but may relay the information within it.

The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 14 in Tweedie Hall. Among other topics, the board will discuss the university’s financial statements for the last fiscal year.

Other parts of the governance structure

The university governance structure is also composed of the president, Senate and Faculty Council, all of which report back to the BoR.

The president supervises and directs all academic matters and the general administration of the university.

Senate deals mostly with academic affairs, such as deciding to discontinue courses and setting the terms of admission for undergraduate and graduate studies. The majority of its members are university professors. Other members include administrative staff, appointees of the board and elected student representatives.

Faculty Council advises the Senate and the president. Both Senate and Faculty Council are chaired by the president.

Student communication with the board

Students seeking to communicate with the board can follow several different paths. The most simple approach is to get in touch with the current student board member, McCaffrey-Noviss ([email protected]).

Alternatively, students can take a more indirect approach: issues can be brought to the attention of MASU councillors-at-large or members of the MASU executive. If the MASU council passes a motion in support of a particular issue that is relevant to the board, both the MASU president and the student representative of the BoR can bring it up at the next board meeting.

Students can also engage in direct activism. For example, following last year’s student protests over cuts to the WGST program, the board’s agenda was amended so that the topic would be discussed.

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