By Julie Bogle
The University of Calgary Board of Governors is the highest governing body at the U of C with members appointed by the Advanced Education and Technology Minister of Alberta. There’s a mix of 10 public members (often high profile members of the community) and 11 elected and appointed members (such as a Senate Rep, Alumni Rep and GSA Rep). Together the board approves budget allocations, the general strategy and plan for the U of C, and approves the naming of buildings, wings or classrooms associated with gifts to the university, among other duties.
Meetings are broken down into an open session, which contains numerous reports with some major decisions, and a closed session that is confidential in nature, often where difficult decisions are made. The senior administrative staff (mostly the various vice-presidents) attend both the open and closed sessions, but do not hold a vote. These senior staff members often make presentations to the board and are responsible for carrying out their decisions and reporting back to the board.
Essentially, the board approves decisions. There are also key committees such as the audit, or environment, health, safety and sustainability. The board listens to various presentations on expansion plans, current problems the U of C is facing in the research, funding or teaching sectors and success stories of implemented programs. The board is ultimately a check and balance for the U of C system with fiscally responsible taxpaying citizens trying to improve the U of C as a whole.
As the 21-member board has representatives from across the campus and Calgary communities, the three student representatives are often asked for their perspective to assist in making decisions. Students across Alberta are now asking the government to expand student representation on the board while strengthening the board’s powers. Students seek this change to ensure real input goes behind important university decisions and to ensure that the board isn’t a rubber stamp.