College Governance

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees, according to the College’s Articles of Incorporation filed with the State of Minnesota on December 17, 1866, is responsible for the “perpetual existence” of Carleton College. Currently a group of approximately 31 men and women, alumni and non-alumni, meet as a full Board on campus three times a year. Much of the work of the Board is done by ten standing committees. Individual trustees frequently participate in campus activities. The Board’s principal duties:

  1. It “oversees and approves the kind of education offered and makes certain that its quality meets the highest standards possible.” The Board thus approves major policies and programs of the College.
  2. Since the Board is responsible for the acquisition, conservation, and management of the College’s funds and properties, it approves budgets, investments, fund raising goals, and plans for significant physical improvements.
  3. It is ultimately responsible for the selection and replacement of the President of the College, although at Carleton faculty, staff, students and alumni traditionally play a part in presidential selection. The Board elects the chair, vice chairs, secretary, and treasurer and approves the granting of degrees, honorary degrees, and faculty tenure, promotion, and leaves of absence.
  4. As a private, independent college, Carleton is governed by many State and Federal laws and regulations; its tax-exempt status and other conditions essential to its existence depend on compliance with these legal requirements. The trustees have ultimate legal accountability for the College’s adherence to its legal responsibilities.
  5. Individual trustees have an obligation to contribute in whatever way possible and appropriate to the promotion of the College’s objectives. The trustees, who have obtained a wide range of professional, business, and academic experience, serve both as advisors and as a bridge between Carleton and the wider society.

The Board of Trustees does not involve itself in the day-to-day functioning of the College, delegating its management to the President and the President’s staff. They keep the Board abreast of the work of campus committees and of the College Council. The Board may act on Council decisions, although the Board need not respond to every decision taken by the Council. One Board member sits on the Council as a non-voting observer. Notwithstanding the Board’s practice of delegation, members do seek to maintain a “feel” for the College through association with faculty, students, and administrative staff.

Periodically trustee committees meet with campus groups. The Academic Affairs Committee regularly invites faculty members to its meetings. The Student Life Committee serves as a point of liaison between the Board and students on campus. While groups of trustees may discuss particular issues brought to them by campus organizations, the Board as a whole will not normally issue official statements in response to questions or petitions arising independently of the governance system. The Board makes a practice of not concerning itself, as a Board, with issues that do not bear directly on its responsibilities for Carleton College. Official actions of the Board are usually reported to the community by the President of the College, or the Secretary of the Board, through the College Council, The Carletonian, or other appropriate form of announcement.

The Board elects its own members, who serve four-year terms. After two successive four-year terms, Trustees must be off the Board for at least one year after which they are eligible for possible re-election to the Board for up to two additional four-year terms. In addition there are also several special trustee categories.

For: Students, Staff, Faculty

Last Reviewed: July 11, 2023

Maintained by: President's Office