May 15, 2008

University Elects Five New Members to Board of Trustees

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Cornell is the only Ivy League University to have students, faculty and staff as full members on the Board of Trustees, in addition to alumni. In its annual process of electing new trustees, the Board recently added five new names to the 64-person list of members, including a faculty member, staff member, graduate student, and two alumni.
“I think it’s important to have a faculty voice at the Board of Trustees to maintain a connection between the deliberations and decisions of the Board and the activities and priorities of the University from a faculty and student perspective,” said new Faculty Trustee Prof. Rosemary Avery, chair of the Department of Policy Analysis and Management. “My goal as a faculty trustee will be to bring grass-roots issues to the attention of the Board to build a stronger connection between decision making and the on-the-ground workings and priorities of the University.”
Avery has been on Cornell’s faculty for 20 years. She has been a department administrator for nine of those years and has also been a member of the Presidential Search Committee and a policy scholar.
According to Avery, her priorities as a trustee involve the hiring and retention of top-quality faculty and creating a campus environment that is welcoming and supportive of faculty at all life stages. She also hopes to focus the Board’s attention on needed funds and enhancement of facilities that support cutting-edge research efforts of both faculty and graduate students, and to enhance efforts to involve undergraduate students in research opportunities.
Beth McKinney ’82, director of Cornell’s Wellness Program, was elected as the staff trustee. She said that during her time on the Board, she hopes to focus on sustainability, something that she believes encompasses wide-ranging issues like the work/life balance and maintaining a sustainable campus.
“I think it’s important [to have an employee trustee] because the trustees need to know how the decisions that they make affect everyone on campus. Employees spend many, many years, in fact, sometimes their whole lives working on this campus,” McKinney said. “Conversely, the trustees can benefit and understand the campus better through the eyes of the employees, and therefore employee representation is crucial in order to serve this campus.”
According to Mike Walsh grad, the newly elected graduate student trustee, his role is to make sure that a large, diverse constituency of Cornell students are represented on the Board of Trustees. Walsh is a doctoral student studying biological and environmental engineering, and during his time on the Board, he plans to focus on implementing the Graduate Community Initiative – an effort to improve the quality of life for Cornell’s graduate population.
The two new alumni trustees are Elizabeth J. Altman ’88 and Ronni S. Chernoff ’67. Altman is currently vice president of strategy and business development for Motorola. She has played an active role in Cornell associations such as the Cornell Council and the College of Engineering Advisory Board. She plans to focus her attention on research and networking at Cornell.
Chernoff is currently associate director of education at the Little Rock Geriatric Research, Education and Clinic Center. She has served on committees such as the Cornell Council and the President’s Council of Cornell Women. She plans to focus on faculty recruitment and retention.
According to University bylaws, “the Board of Trustees shall have supreme control over the University, including every college, school, and academic department, division and center thereof.”
“[The Board] plays a very influential role in how the University operates and deals with a lot of issues that affect students and student life, so they are very important and I think students should recognize that the Board is there,” Walsh said. “They should get to know the student trustees and contact us if they have any questions or concerns that they would like to see raised with the Board.”
The five new trustees will begin their term on July 1. As a student trustee, Walsh will serve for two years. Avery, McKinney, Altman and Chernoff will each serve four years.