Suffolk University today released its new bylaws on the University website. Beginning in 2013, the Suffolk University Board of Trustees actively engaged in an ongoing and comprehensive effort to draft and create consensus for an updated set of bylaws that incorporate best practices in higher education. The board actively sought input from President Margaret McKenna and Provost Marisa Kelly before adopting the final product.
New Suffolk Board Chair Robert Lamb stated: “This marks a new era of transparency for Suffolk and all of its constituencies. I am privileged to inherit the work of my colleagues on the board and the collaboration with President McKenna that has given us this outstanding final product.”
“These bylaws represent a significant step forward for University governance,” said McKenna. “I applaud the committee members for their comprehensive effort. They have produced a final product that will give Suffolk tools it needs to operate well into the future.”
At its April 22 meeting, the Board of Trustees adopted the bylaws, culminating more than three years of work on behalf of the Bylaws Committee of the board. The process also included consultation with outside experts and an extensive review of peer universities.
The board retained two renowned outside experts to advise it: Dr. Richard (Tom) Ingram, a national expert on trustee bylaws and president emeritus of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, or AGB, and James P. Honan of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who has extensive background, experience and knowledge pertaining to boards of higher education. After extensive consultation with these consultants, the University's administration, board members and peer universities, the new bylaws were finalized.
A few highlights include:
- Term limits — Board members may now serve two five-year terms, after which they must step off for at least a year before returning to the board. This avoids the "trustee for life," which most in academia agree is not in the best interests of the school.
- Formalization of the role of provost and the establishment of the Executive and Compensation committees of the board — all were created by board vote but are now incorporated into the bylaws.
- Creation of a University Council, a second board of advisers to the University that can facilitate additional active alumni involvement and be a place to tap subject matter expertise on behalf of the University in areas such as real estate, technology and finance.
- Establishment of a Committee on Trusteeship, to replace the Nominating Committee.
- Increased opportunities for faculty and student input to the board.
Throughout this process, the board and the University worked to build a consensus around each of the new bylaw provisions. The board also instituted certain best practices prior to the adoption of the final bylaws, such as the formation of an Executive Committee and a Compensation Committee to ensure the University was operating within acceptable norms.
The bylaws were last amended in 2010. “The publication of these bylaws should be a signal to all that Suffolk University is a school that is proud of its accomplishments and welcomes the active discussions that should be part of any strong academic environment,” said Lamb.