University News

Corporation adopts new policy for minutes

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 18, 2010

The minutes from Corporation meetings held after July 1, 2009, will be made public after 25 years, a change from the previous policy of holding the minutes for 50 years, according to Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, senior vice president for Corporation affairs and governance. The Corporation approved the change at its May 2009 meeting, Carey wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

The change was recommended by a self-review conducted by the Corporation last May, in which it recommended several changes to better connect with and represent the University. The review’s most significant recommendation was the creation of the “young alumni trustee” position currently held by Lauren Kolodny ’08. Other recommended changes included appointing a Corporation member to the Brown University Community Council and committing to a regular cycle of self-assessment. 

Chancellor Thomas Tisch ’76 P’07 said in a statement that the review “gave us an opportunity to reflect on our governance and operations, to hear input from the community, and to make improvements that will have a lasting and positive impact on our work and the University.”

Tisch and the Corporation’s other four officers led the self-review, which Carey said was prompted by a need for a “healthy checkup” and a response to “questions and concerns from the campus.”

While the Corporation’s last comprehensive review, conducted in 2003, focused on ensuring the Corporation was working “as effectively as a governance body as it possibly can,” this most recent review focused on improving the Corporation’s representation and enabling greater interaction with students, faculty and staff, according to the review’s working paper.

The review consisted of research about the policies of governing bodies at similar peer institutions and a survey of the Corporation’s members.

The review found that most other universities wait between 25 and 50 years before releasing their minutes, recommending that the Corporation set its holding period for minutes to 25 years. Minutes from meetings before July 1, 2009 will still be held for 50 years, Carey said.

The review found that while few peer institutions had created a young alum trustee position, “it is a model that exists and has value in several institutions,” according to the review’s working paper. 

The review did not specify a set number of young alum trustee positions, but Carey said that the Corporation is considering admitting more young alums. 

“We are continuing through the trustee vacancy process to think very deliberately about representation and diversity on all levels, but specifically recent closeness to graduation,” he said. 

Carey added that Kolodny has already had “significant impact on the Corporation.”  
He also said the Corporation is “committed to trying to have more opportunities to interact with students and staff.” The greatest step towards this was appointing Corporation trustee William Twaddell ’63 to the BUCC, Carey said. 

The Corporation also made sure to interact with the students, staff and faculty on the University Resources Committee when members were on campus during the Corporation weekend in February, Carey said.

While trying to respond to recent concerns over transparency, the review did not address investment transparency or the possibility of conducting open meetings, two main student concerns.

Carey said that possibly opening Corporation meetings was discussed with Tisch at a BUCC meeting, but ultimately, “there wasn’t support in the Corporation” for changing the closed nature of meetings.  He also said that investment policy was not part of the review, even though a Corporation committee does oversee the University’s investments.

An earlier version of this story ran with a photo in which the caption incorrectly implied that the person pictured was a member of the Corporation. While the photo was taken at a protest at which demonstrators called on the Corporation to increase investment transparency, the individual pictured is not a Corporation member.