Building Relationships: University Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the governing board, legal owner, and ultimate decision maker of independent, nonprofit, and public colleges and universities. As a collective body, the trustees are responsible for setting and ensuring the fulfillment of the institution’s mission, selecting the president, overseeing all faculty and senior administrative appointments, reviewing institutional performance, monitoring the budget, and protect University property. The Trustees must formally approve any new or amend any existing university policy. Therefore, the Board of Trustees has extensive influence on a campus and can be an ally in the struggle against delegitimization of Israel.

Most Boards of Trustees have several committees, usually including one on social responsibility or shareholder rights. Many committees often include a student representative. On some campuses, BDS proponents have filled the student seat on one of these committees and used it as a platform to force a discussion on divestment. It runs contrary to common notions of practice for proponents of a motion or case to sit on the body that rules on the motion or case. Advocate to the Trustees that any member of the committee who is actively engaged as an advocate for any position ought to be recused from the decision making process. Further, do not assume that Trustees are conversant with issues relating to Israel. They need to be educated with reasoned positions grounded in fact.