Board of Trustees 101

Did you know that Purdue's official name is "The Trustees of Purdue University"? Although Purdue has become commonly known simply as "Purdue University" for more than 151 years, the legal name signals the importance of the Board of Trustees in the life of the University. Below is an introduction to the Board of Trustees and its role.

What is the Board of Trustees?

“The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the University and is responsible for overseeing its operations and ensuring that critical decisions are made to enhance and further its mission, long-term interests and priorities,” said Michael Berghoff, chair of the Board of Trustees. “The president and our senior administrative staff work with the board to make sure decisions like tuition, enrollment goals and academic standards are consistent and aligned with the goals and vision the board has for the University. The board helps to ensure the University’s reputation endures over the decades.” 

The board consists of 10 members.

Why does the BOT exist?

Pursuant to Indiana law, the Board of Trustees exists to take all actions necessary and expedient to keep Purdue in operation and has the authority to make all bylaws, rules and regulations required or proper to conduct and manage Purdue.

How does someone get a seat on the BOT?

All 10 of the trustees are appointed by the governor of Indiana, but the manner in which they are selected for the governor’s consideration varies. Three are elected by the Purdue Alumni Association, and one must be a graduate of the College of Agriculture. The remaining seven trustees include a student trustee, who is selected by the governor from a pool of 10 candidates presented by the Student Trustee Search Committee. The student trustee can be an undergraduate or graduate student from the West Lafayette, Purdue Fort Wayne or Purdue Northwest campus.

Are there term limits for members of the BOT?

The trustees’ terms are three years, with the exception of the student trustee, who serves a single, two-year term. The governor may reappoint trustees for successive terms. JoAnn Brouillette is the longest-serving of the current members of the Board of Trustees, having joined the Board in 2006.

Who is the chair of the BOT?

The current chair is Michael Berghoff. As his biographical page states, he is a 1985 Purdue graduate with a degree in industrial management. As a student, he played football. He is the founder and president of Lenex Steel Corp., the largest steel fabricator in the region. Lenex Steel is headquartered in Indianapolis.

What key responsibilities does the BOT have?

Perhaps its most important responsibility is electing the University’s president, who reports to the Board of Trustees. The board works closely with President Daniels to advance the mission of the University and chart its course via initiatives such as Purdue Moves.

The board has five committees, which provide critical oversight for the well-being of the University:

* Academic and Student Affairs Committee, which oversees academic functions.

* Audit and Risk Management Committee, which oversees the University's financial position, risk profile and risk financing mechanisms.

* Compensation Committee, which oversees the recruitment, compensation and retention of the president, other senior administrators, officers and coaches.

* Finance Committee, which oversees the treasurer’s management of the University’s investments, funds and trusts, and debts.

* Physical Facilities Committee, which oversees construction and renovation of University facilities, including student housing.

In addition, there is an Executive Committee, which may exercise all powers of the board during periods between its meetings.

The Board of Trustees has six regularly scheduled meetings per year. The committees usually meet in conjunction with the full board when they have items to act on or discuss. Requests for discussion and approval of such items are made through the offices of the President, Provost or Treasurer. As examples, only when the board has given its approval may the University implement new degree programs, restructure academically, make purchases over $2 million, build new buildings (such as student housing), or hire a head coach.

The trustees also serve as ambassadors for Purdue at University events and assist with securing gifts from donors.

Who answers to the BOT?

Ultimately, all faculty and staff answer to the Board of Trustees via the president. The corporate secretary, an officer of the board, reports directly to the Board of Trustees. The treasurer, assistant treasurer, general counsel, deputy general counsel and assistant secretary have an indirect reporting relationship to the Board of Trustees because of their dual role as officers of the board.

Who currently sits on the BOT?

The Board of Trustees consists of Chair Berghoff, Sonny Beck, JoAnn Brouillette, Theresa Carter, Vanessa Castagna, Malcolm DeKryger, Michael Klipsch, Gary Lehman, Noah Scott (student trustee) and Don Thompson.  They volunteer their time to serve on the board and are passionate about Purdue University’s success.

Former trustees whose names the University community may recognize include John Purdue, David Ross, former U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, Robert Heine, John and William Hillenbrand, Maurice Knoy, Keith Krach, and Bruce White.

Is there anything else you think someone should know about the BOT?

The Office of the Board of Trustees is on the second floor of Hovde Hall near the Office of the President. The office has a staff of two: the corporate secretary and senior executive assistant; and an executive assistant. On occasion, they will reach out to members of the campus community on behalf of one or more of the trustees to request information or make various arrangements for the trustees. The Office of the Board of Trustees also serves as the clearinghouse for communication with the trustees. For example, if a department wishes to invite the Board of Trustees to an event, such invitations should be made through the Office of the Board of Trustees so that the staff can notify trustees of the event and facilitate their attendance.