The Board of Trustees: Who Are They?

Kristyn Soltis

The Kent State Board of Trustees has the final say in any major decision at the university. Few people even know their names.

How are they selected?

Each of Ohio’s 23 community colleges and 14 universities has an individual Board of Trustees, appointed by Ohio governor Ted Strickland.

A trustee’s term is nine years. The governor’s office does not expect to appoint another member to the board until May 2010.

Kent State President Lester Lefton said in some cases a new trustee is appointed to fill the remaining term of a previous trustee. For instance, when a Kent State trustee died in 2005, the governor’s office appointed a new board member to finish out the remaining term until 2007.

Applicants must complete the Boards and Commission questionnaire and provide a resumé.

For student trustees, after Kent State decided on three candidates, the names are sent to the governor’s office for the final decision.

What do trustees do?

Kent State University has nine trustees and two student trustees who are responsible for the hiring and firing of the president, professors, teachers and other employees as they see necessary.

Not only do they control the fate of Kent State administration and faculty, they also ensure the university continues to operate smoothly and successfully. Trustees approve contracts, set budgets, tuition and fees, approve rules and regulations, changes in curriculum and, overall, provide an oversight for the university.

The two student trustees are non-voting members. They are advisory members who can make comments and ask questions.

Katherine O’Brien

Katherine O’Brien got the call that she had been appointed to Kent State’s Board of Trustees as a graduate student in late July. She attended her first Board of Trustees meeting as a member Sept. 16.

“I was surprised because I didn’t expect so many people to be there,” she said. “I didn’t realize that there would be an audience. But it’s a good surprise because it tells you everything that’s happening is transparent. It’s out in the open, and the constituents have access to know what’s going on when we’re knowing about it.”

O’Brien started her studies in administration before switching to curriculum instruction.

“I’m still kind of straddling those two lines,” she said. “That’s one of those things I like about the Board of Trustees because it lets me see college administration from the inside out and really learn what it’s all about.”

Lawrence Pollock

Lawrence Pollock is the other newest member to join the Board of Trustees, replacing Sandra Harbrecht.

His official announcement of appointment from the Governor’s office was Oct. 9, but he attended his first board meeting July 14.

“The interesting part is that it’s all public, and it’s unique to have a trustee meeting with a gallery,” he said. “I found it to be refreshing.”

Pollock has held trustee positions with the Cleveland Clinic, Musical Arts Association and IdeaStream, which operates WVIZ/PBS and 90.3 WCPN.

Pollock has held leadership positions in retail companies, such as Cole National Corporation, Pearle Vision, Things Remembered, HomePlace Stores, Zale Corporation and J.B. Robinson Jewelers.

He said his broad experience with running businesses will be beneficial with university decision-making.

Who are the members on the Board of Trustees?

Andrew Banks: chairman and CEO of Mid-America Consulting Group

Stephen Colecchi: President and Chief

Executive Officer of Robinson Memorial Hospital

Dennis E. Eckart: Cleveland area attorney and former U.S. Congressman

Emilio D. Ferrara: oral-maxillofacial surgeon practicing in Kent

Patrick S. Mullin, Chair: certified public accountant and managing partner for the Northern Ohio practice of Deloitte & Touche

Katherine F. O’Brien, Graduate Student Trustee

Lawrence Pollock: Managing Partner of Lucky Stars Partners LLC

Jane Murphy Timken, Secretary: attorney

Brian D. Tucker, Vice Chair: Publisher and Editorial Director of Crain’s Cleveland Business

Jacqueline F. Woods, Vice Chair: senior consultant at Landau Public Relations

Erin M. West, Student Trustee

Are they qualified to make decisions for the university?

Kent State’s Board of Trustees consists of chairmen, CEOs, surgeons, attorneys, former U.S. Congressmen, accountants and public relations consultants.

“I think when you’re dealing with something as large as the university, it’s like a small city, and we need to have people who can view the different facets of university life from their perspectives.” O’Brien said.

If the university decides to make changes with finances, someone who has been involved with financial management of a major company is helpful. Or if the university faces any legal issues, attorneys on the board help watch out for the interest of Kent State.

“You need to have people from those different perspectives because a university is about more than just teaching,” O’Brien said.

Contact administration reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected].