Board of Regents
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Board of Regents

In the United States, a board often governs institutions of higher education, including private universities, state universities and community colleges. In each US state, such boards may govern either the state university system, individual colleges and universities, or both. In general they operate as a board of directors, and they vary by formal name, size, powers, and membership. In some states, members are appointed by the governor.

From a legal standpoint, many higher education institutions are corporations; they have separate legal personhood. The corporation is the legal owner of its endowment and other property. The corporation's name might consist of its governing board members' title (for example, The Trustees of Princeton University is a New Jersey nonprofit corporation). These board members (trustees, regents, etc.) are fiduciaries for the corporation. In some cases, the institution might not have separate legal personhood; the trustees then transact in their own name with other parties, such as students, faculty or donors. However, the trustees often utilize a common, enduring title, which enables the trust to operate continuously even as individual trustees change.

In some private institutions of higher learning, non-governing boards may also be appointed. These boards' members' duties often include but are not limited to major gift cultivation and fundraising.


Governing boards of universities are of varying sizes across the United States. Smaller boards may have about ten members, while larger boards can have over 50 members.[1] In 2016, the average public university board had 12 members, while the average private university board had 29 members.[2]

Some university governing boards are composed entirely of alumni of that university.[1] Other boards contain various elected officials, often the state governor, as ex officio members.[1]

Members of the governing board can be selected in a variety of ways. Members of public university boards are most often selected by the state governor.[2] Four states (Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, and Nevada) elect members of some university boards by popular vote.[2] Boards of private universities can be selected either by an alumni vote, or by the existing members of the board.[1]

Board names


The term "Board of Trustees" is the most commonly used name for governing bodies of universities in the United States.[3]

All schools within the Ohio Higher Education System are governed by individual Boards of Trustees, including Miami University and Ohio State University. The governing body at Duke University is known as the board of trustees while each college and the graduate school maintains its own board of visitors.[4] The University of Florida[5], University of South Carolina[6]Michigan State University,[7]Indiana University,[8] and the University of Connecticut[9] are also governed by boards of trustees.


Thirty-nine states have boards of regents to govern their public university systems.[3]

The Regents of the University of California govern the University of California system, with one exception: the original endowment that allowed for the creation of UC's Hastings College of the Law stipulated that it could not be governed by the Regents. However, Hastings Law degrees are issued in the name of the UC Regents.

The Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York oversees all public education, including the State University of New York (SUNY), affiliated community colleges, and the K-12 public school system (run by the New York State Education Department) via the Regents Examinations. High school graduates may receive Regents Scholarships to defray expenses at SUNY universities.

The boards of the University of Hawaii, University of Michigan,[10]University of Minnesota,[11]University of Texas,[12]Texas Tech University, University of Wisconsin System,[13]Texas A&M, University of Maryland, College Park, University of Colorado, University of New Mexico, University of Houston System,[14]University of North Texas,[15]St. Olaf College,[16]University of Washington and Washington State University are known as the board of regents.[17]


The governing bodies at the University of North Carolina, name=autogenerated2>"Board of Governors for the University of North Carolina". Retrieved 2011.</ref> and the Colorado State University system[18] are known as the board of governors. Public institutions in Rhode Island are also governed by a board of governors.

Five public institutions in Missouri that are not part of the UM System, among them Missouri State University, are overseen by boards of governors.[19][20][21][22][23] The two largest universities in West Virginia, West Virginia University[24] and Marshall University,[25] also maintain boards of governors.


The Harvard Board of Overseers (more formally The Honorable and Reverend Board of Overseers) is one of Harvard University's two governing boards.


The Fellows of the University of Notre Dame are a self-perpetuating body which retains the core powers of the University, and selects the members of the other governing board, the Board of Trustees.


The bodies at the United States Military Academy,[26]United States Air Force Academy,[27]United States Naval Academy,[28]The Citadel, The Military College of SC,[29] and the major universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia like the University of Virginia(Charlottesville), University of Mary Washington(Fredericksburg), George Mason University(Fairfax), Virginia State University(Petersburg), Virginia Commonwealth University(Richmond), Longwood University(Farmville), Washington and Lee University(Lexington), the College of William and Mary(Williamsburg), Old Dominion University(Norfolk), Christopher Newport University(Newport News), and Virginia Tech(Blacksburg) are known as the board of visitors.

By state


The Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama governs the three universities that are part of the University of Alabama System. Auburn University is governed by the Auburn University Board of Trustees.

District of Columbia

The governing board of Georgetown University is known as the President and Directors of Georgetown College.[30]


The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia is the oversight authority for thirty universities and colleges in the state of Georgia (including the University of Georgia and Georgia Institute of Technology) along with the state archives and the state public library system.[31]


In the State of Louisiana, the governing board of each of the four public university systems is known as the Board of Supervisors.[32]


The governing board of the University of Missouri System, and of each individual campus in that system, is known as the Board of Curators.[33] This terminology is also used by another Missouri public institution, Lincoln University.[34]

However, the state's other public institutions use different terms. Five use Board of Governors (see below), and three use Board of Regents.[35][36][37]

North Carolina

Institutions in North Carolina use several different names for their boards. The University of North Carolina--which includes all 16 four-year public institutions in the state, plus a residential high school--is overseen by a board of governors.[38] Some individual campuses within the system, such as East Carolina University,[39]North Carolina State University,[40] and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have boards of visitors.


Boards governing public institutions of higher education in the state of Virginia are known as the board of visitors. This includes The College of William & Mary,[41]University of Virginia,[42]Virginia Tech,[43]James Madison University,[44]Radford University,[45]University of Mary Washington,[46][47]Longwood University,[48]Virginia Military Institute,[49]Virginia Commonwealth University,[50] and George Mason University.[51][52] Terminology for private institutions can vary. Regent University once used "board of visitors", but now uses "board of trustees".[53]Washington and Lee University also uses "board of trustees".[54]


  1. ^ a b c d Freedman, James O. (2016). Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (ed.). Governing Academia: Who is in Charge at the Modern University?. Cornell University Press. pp. 9-15. ISBN 9781501704758. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Kelchen, Robert (2018). Higher Education Accountability. JHU Press. pp. 133-141. ISBN 9781421424736.
  3. ^ a b "Is a board of trustees the same as a board of regents? What is a board of governors?". Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. October 27, 2010. Archived from the original on November 1, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ "Board of Trustees at Duke University". Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "USC: Board of Visitors". Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ "Board of Trustees - Michigan State University".
  8. ^ "Indiana University Board of Trustees".
  9. ^ "University of Connecticut Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2012.
  10. ^ "Regents of the University of Michigan".
  11. ^ "Regents of the University of Minnesota".
  12. ^ "University of Texas System - Board of Regents". Archived from the original on November 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  13. ^ "University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents". Archived from the original on May 11, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ "UHS - Board of Regents - University of Houston System".
  15. ^ "UNT System Board of Regents". November 16, 2011. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  16. ^ "Board of Regents". April 6, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  17. ^ "Board of Regents » The Texas A&M University System". February 8, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  18. ^ "Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System". Retrieved 2011.
  19. ^ "Board of Governors". University of Central Missouri. Archived from the original on July 15, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  20. ^ "Board of Governors". Missouri State University. Retrieved 2015.
  21. ^ "Board of Governors". Missouri Southern State University. Retrieved 2015.
  22. ^ "Board of Governors". Missouri Western State University. Archived from the original on August 3, 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  23. ^ "Board of Governors". Truman State University. Retrieved 2015.
  24. ^ "Board of Governors | BOG Home". September 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  25. ^ "Board of Governors". June 30, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  26. ^ "United States Military Academy at West Point". October 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  27. ^ "United States Air Force Academy - BOV". Archived from the original on December 4, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  28. ^ "Board of Visitors". October 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  29. ^ "The Citadel Board of Visitors (BOV)". The Citadel. Retrieved 2018.
  30. ^ "Board of Directors of Georgetown University". Georgetown University. Retrieved 2015.
  31. ^ "Board of Regents - University System of Georgia". Retrieved 2015.
  32. ^ "Board of Supervisors". Archived from the original on June 2, 2013.
  33. ^ ""
  34. ^ "Office of the President: Board of Curators". Lincoln University (Missouri). November 8, 2015.
  35. ^ "The HSSU Board of Regents". Harris-Stowe State University. Retrieved 2015.[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ "Northwest Board of Regents". Northwest Missouri State University. Retrieved 2015.
  37. ^ "Board of Regents". Southeast Missouri State University. Retrieved 2015.
  38. ^ "Board of Governors for the University of North Carolina". Retrieved 2011.
  39. ^ "East Carolina University Board of Visitors". Retrieved 2011.
  40. ^ "North Carolina State University :: Board of Visitors". Retrieved 2011.
  41. ^ "Board of Visitors web page of The College of William and Mary". Retrieved 2014.
  42. ^ "Board of Visitors web page of the University of Virginia". September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  43. ^ "Board of Visitors web page of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University". Retrieved 2011.
  44. ^ The College of William & Mary. "Administration web page of the College of William and Mary". Retrieved 2011.
  45. ^ "Board of Visitors web page of Radford University". Retrieved 2011.
  46. ^ "James Madison University - Board of Visitors". Retrieved 2011.
  47. ^ "University of Mary Washington | Board of Visitors Home Page". Retrieved 2011.
  48. ^ "Board of Visitors - Longwood University". Retrieved 2011.
  49. ^ "VMI Board of Visitors". Retrieved 2015.
  50. ^ "Board of Visitors - VCU Office of the President". Retrieved 2018.
  51. ^ "George Mason University-Board of Visitors". Retrieved 2011.
  52. ^ Board of Visitors Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Christopher Newport University
  53. ^ "About Regent: Board of Trustees". Regent University. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  54. ^ "About W&L: Administration". Washington and Lee University. Archived from the original on August 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012.

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