Montana Board of Regent’s Commitment and Responsibilities
September 19-20, 2002
For more than a century, Montana higher education has benefited from the devotion, service, and contributions of many thousands of its citizens and friends. From this broad constituency, a relative handful of individuals have been asked to assume the special responsibility and honor of serving the public trust as Regents. The performance of those invited to serve in this capacity is directly related to the University System’s continued vitality and strength. Those who serve public institutions of higher learning fulfill their considerable responsibilities in one of the most complex political, economic, and social environments in the 350-year history of American higher education. Thus, it is essential that individuals who are invited to serve the public as Regents understand the responsibilities they are agreeing to fulfill. Following are responsibilities and the expected commitment for members of the Montana Board of Regents.
Members of the Board of Regents serve as ultimate fiduciaries in their control, operation, management and supervision of the Montana University System in accordance with the Montana Constitution and statutes, bylaws, evolving statements of mission and purpose, and system plans. Regents serve the Montana University System that is “owned” by Montana citizens and are responsible for acting on behalf of the public as their individual consciences and judgment dictate. In serving in this critical capacity collectively as a governing board, the regents hereby clarify for themselves and for those invited to join them what is expected of its individual members.
All individual regents are expected to have a deep and abiding commitment to the University System’s values and traditions. In their words and deeds, regents should dedicate themselves to upholding and strengthening the University System’s tradition of providing a high-quality education while ensuring access for all qualified Montana students through affordable costs.
Regents are expected to participate regularly in board meetings and to demonstrate familiarity with the materials distributed in advance. They should contribute to the board’s efforts to make informed and thoughtful decisions consistent with its fiduciary responsibilities and the University System’s mission. They should be prepared to participate in orderly yet lively board discussions and to work toward quality decisions. While travel, room and board, and per diem are provided at state rates, regents should assume other expenses associated with board and other meetings. Every other month each year, the Board has regularly scheduled two-day meetings held at various campuses throughout the system. In addition there may be retreats or other obligations that require the presence of regents.
Each regent should serve willingly on at least one board committee and ordinarily should accept new assignments from the board chair from time to time. Each regent also should freely express interest in other committee assignments to enable the board to take fuller advantage of his or her experiences and talents.
Regents should participate in other board and college activities to the extent their time permits. Such participation strengthens their knowledge of the institutions they hold in trust for the current and future generations and contributes significantly to the board’s standing.
Regents should actively promote the University System and its constituent campuses to alumni, prospective students, donors, the media, the business community, elected officials, foundations, and the public at large. Such informed advocacy reflects favorably on their commitment to the University System and can lead to advancing its reputation, growth, and prosperity.
Regents at all times should serve the University System as a whole, rather than any particular internal or external constituency. In this regard, regents should not make judgments on the basis of information received from individuals or groups who have a perceived or real grievance or particular cause. Substantive information should be referred to the board chair or commissioner. The board’s collective responsibility assumes equal access to information by all regents. Only the board chair and commissioner are authorized to speak on behalf of the University System or The Board of Regents.
Regents should contribute to the board’s responsibility to distinguish between management of the University System and its governance. The board should monitor the implementation of its policies but steer away from their administration.
Regents should avoid any situation that could cause even the appearance of a conflict of interest in accord with the board’s current policy. Any potential or actual conflict should be disclosed to the board chair and handled in accordance with board policy.
Regents should refrain from asking the commissioner, campus CEO’s, or other members of the college community for special personal favors.
Regents should maintain the confidentiality of the information conveyed in the board’s executive sessions concerning personnel and other matters. Regents should remember that their comments and utterances carry great weight with others and that the University System can be easily placed at great disadvantage if discretion is not exercised at all times.
Being a Regent of the Montana University System offers many rewards. They come from being an important participant in efforts to enhance the ability to offer quality educational opportunities to Montana students, the intellectual stimulation that working in partnership with outstanding scholars and educators provides, and the appreciation that comes with dedicated service to current and future generations of young people. The Montana Board of Regents is uniquely positioned to provide our state and its citizens with an enormous benefit through higher education.
For further information, please contact Richard Roehm, Chairman, Montana Board of Regents at (406) 587-3990