Tried and True Alumni-elected Trustee System
by Yvonne Gay Fowler
photo by Al Fuchs
Being chosen by your peers to serve on a college board that is ultimately
responsible for the future character of the institution could make
anyone's heart beat a little faster. Just ask Karen Florini
the Alumni Nominating Committee called to say that they wanted to
nominate me, I was surprised to say the least," recalls Florini.
"After I picked my jaw up off the kitchen floor, I realized
that I couldn't possibly say no." It had been several
years since she was told that one of her classmates had nominated
her to serve as an Alumni-elected Trustee, and Florini says she
had long since assumed that her services were not needed.
couldn't have been more wrong. Now a six-year veteran, Florini's
career experiences as a senior attorney with the Environmental Defense
in Washington, D.C., are welcome ingredients to the board, where
she also serves as chair of both the budget and finance committee
and an ad hoc committee helped oversee construction of the Science
a wonderful opportunity," says Florini, who was recently re-elected
to a second six-year term. "I'm glad I can be a part of it.
And I was fascinated to learn recently that the alumni-elected trustee
system has a long tradition."
Board of Trustees, the governing body of the College, first met
on March 10, 1834, less than one year after the institution opened.
In 1878, the 18-member administration authorized participation by
alumni in the selection process. However, the administration still
had the authority to vote on the candidate. It wasn't until 1892
that the administration finally agreed to a strict alumni-elected
Today, there are 24 board-appointed and six alumni-elected members
(one trustee is elected every year for a six-year term), working
together for the common good of the College.
to Jean Bailey Jerauld '69, chair of the Trustee Search Committee
of the Alumni Council, the number of colleges with an alumni-elected
trustee system is dwindling. "The concept of alumni-elected
trustees is a logical extension of Oberlin's ethic of service
and tradition of engagement," she says. "The alumni-elected
trustees are welcomed as equals and often bring a different perspective
to the deliberations of the board."
keep the tradition strong, alumni are encouraged to submit nominations
to the Alumni Office. There, background information on the nominees
is gathered and sent to the Alumni Council's Trustee Search
Committee, which meets twice a year to review nominations. "Previous
nominees are also considered," explains Jerauld. "The
extraordinary and varied talents of the pool of nominees gives us
the opportunity to select candidates according to the current needs
and future challenges of the College." The final candidates
are placed on the annual fall ballot.
Gladieux '65 was in the middle of starting his own consulting
company when members of the Trustee Search Committee came knocking
in the spring of 2000. But it didn't take long for him to
accept the position, just as his father had done nearly 50 years
ago. He now serves on the Budget and Finance and the Academic Affairs
I knew I was going to become a trustee, I started attending more
alumni meetings and events in Washington, D.C, where the concentration
of alumni is one of the highest," Gladieux says. "I'm
connecting with alumni more than before because I'm representing
nominating alumni who have a deep regard for the unique character
of the College, and who have the talents to serve Oberlin in its
pursuit of educating undergraduates in the arts and sciences and
in professional music.
voting for one of the Alumni-elected Trustee candidates that appear
on mailed fall ballots. The committee is hoping to offer the first
electronic vote with this year's ballot, but the option of
paper ballots will continue.
becoming active Alumni Council members. Members serve in many roles,
including working in regional activities, admissions, fund raising,
and affiliate groups, and they are eligible for appointment to the
Trustee Search Committee.
letters should be submitted to the Alumni Office at 50 West Lorain
Street, Oberlin, Ohio 44074. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bailey Jerauld '69, chair of the Trustee Search Committee of
the Alumni Council and Cynthia Brown '74, member, Trustee