Fall Editorial Board 2016
Auburn University’s Board of Trustees has 14 members. As per the BoT’s By-Laws, “the entire management and control over the activities, affairs, operations, business and property of Auburn University shall be completely and absolutely vested in the Board of Trustees of Auburn University.”
Currently, the BoT is composed of 12 white men, one African-American woman and one white woman. The current configuration of Auburn University’s board is not representative of the nation, state or university it’s designed to serve.
In Auburn’s BoT’s current form, African-Americans comprise approximately 7 percent of members. In our state, they make up 26 percent of our population and in our nation that number becomes 13 percent. When compared to either of those two measures, our BoT clearly falls far too short in reflecting those it serves. Moreover, there are only two women on the BoT, which amounts to about 14 percent of the members on the BoT representing half of Auburn University, the state of Alabama and the United States’ population.
Auburn University is a Land-Grant University, which is a university created to serve our state and nation through instruction, research and extension programs. The Board of Trustees is essentially a council of bosses for a public corporation and instrument of Alabama. The best way to ensure the varying and sundry interests from different groups of citizens are considered in Auburn University’s management is to let the managers – the board members – accurately reflect the people they are supposed to be serving. Therefore, we support efforts to promote diversity on the Auburn University Board of Trustees.
Advancing the interests of our citizens in general is an inherently good thing to do, and specifically, we think furthering diversity on Auburn’s BoT would tend to create more progress with respect to making Auburn a more inclusive campus as a whole, which would attract more diverse students. Having a more diverse student body would lend to greater perspective in classes generally, which would be a net benefit for our students’ minds.
One specific way to help create a Board which more accurately reflects the interests its supposed to serve is by passing Amendment One on the upcoming Nov. 8 ballot.
This amendment would add two additional at-large members to the board who are intended to enhance diversity. Additionally, the amendment would ensure that no more than three members’ terms could expire in a calendar year, which would prevent large parts of the board from being replaced quickly.
We support passing Amendment One on Nov. 8.
Furthermore, we implore the BoT’s appointing committee to seriously consider increasing diversity to levels to match the citizens whom the board members are serving.