A look into UT’s Board of Trustees

November 28, 2018

UT’s Board of Trustees maintains proper function of the university with 13 trustee members and various community and faculty representatives.


The group is made up of CEOs, a nationally-recognized sports columnist and students.


“The board is a governing board appointed by the governor, whose overarching responsibility is to ensure the proper operations management of the university,” President Sharon Gaber said. 


“They hire and fire the president, and then make sure that we keep them informed, because they have a fiduciary responsibility associated with the university. They’re volunteers, but they’re the watchdogs that ensure management is being handled appropriately.”


Mary Ellen Pisanelli, senior vice president at Welltower, Inc. in Toledo and chairperson of the Board of Trustees, expanded on the roles of board members. 


“One of the things that I think may be one of the most misunderstood roles of a trustee is that we also get involved in the day-to-day operations of the university, but we do not do that. In fact, we are prohibited in doing so, that is the job of Gaber and her team,” Pisanelli said. 


The Governor of Ohio appoints most board members, of which there are a few different varieties. The community representatives, faculty representatives and national trustees that sit on various committees are not, however, appointed in the same manner.


General board trustees make up a majority of the members and serve nine-year terms, which are not renewable. Biographies of all members are also available on the Board’s webpage.


Pisanelli, who was appointed chairperson by Governor John Kasich in 2015 said her experience serving on the Board has been great. 


“It’s a combination of feeling that you are giving your time, your expertise, but at the same time it’s an incredible learning experience, which I think almost everyone would want to continue to have, as it really is a microcosm of what’s going on everywhere else,” Pisanelli said.


In addition to general trustees, national trustees also recently joined the Board.


“Christine Brennen is our first national trustee, since then Roy Armes and Birdel Jackson III have joined.”

Gaber said the national members can assist the board in spreading the word about what’s going on at the university.


These three members can participate in board meetings, but they are not able to cast binding votes like members appointed by the governor, Gaber added.


The faculty and community members are selected by the trustee members with the aid of the faculty senate and Gaber to find appropriate representatives for specific issues.


Lastly are the student trustees, who must go through an application process and then be appointed by the governor in the same manner as other trustees. 


Student Affairs runs the entire application process and student government interviews potential candidates, where usually three recommendations are chosen and sent to the governor to appoint the student trustees, Gaber explained about the process. 


“They all sit on several of the committees, so they are really included in everything...We don’t limit their input to just what you would consider to be traditional issues; they are very vocal, and we welcome them to speak up on any matter that comes up,” Pisanelli said.


Kyle Bergen is currently one of the student trustees on the board. 


“My experience on the board has been extremely positive,” Bergen said. “All of the members have been extremely welcoming to me and expressed that they highly value the opinions and views of student trustees.”


Members are divided into committees to work on specific areas. 


Currently, the Board has a Clinical Affairs, Finance and Audit, Trusteeship and Governance and Academic and Student Affairs Committee. At each meeting, each committee will give a report about the current state of affairs of each respective area. 


The next board meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 17. They are always held in the Driscoll Alumni Center.

All meetings are open to the public as well, as mandated by the state of Ohio. 


Usually 30 to 40 people in addition to Board members attend the meetings, according to Gaber. 

Minutes from previous meetings are always posted onto the Board’s webpage, as is the agenda for each upcoming meeting. 

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