The AUC Board of Trustees recently held their annual meeting in New York at the end of last month, the agenda of which agenda discussed the financial status of university as well as the possibility of appointing a student representative to join the board and attend its meetings.
A common feature in non-profit organizations in United States and North America, boards of trustees are responsible for overseeing the important decisions of an institution.
“They are truly wonderful people,” AUC president Lisa Anderson said as she was describing the AUC Board of Trustees to The Independent.
The AUC Board of Trustees has been making important decisions and overseeing university activity for decades as well as providing financial contributions to the university. Some of the trustees have been on the board for as long as 20 years.
Anderson went as far as saying that “it is seen as legally necessary” that there be a group of people responsible for overseeing non-profit organizations.
The board consists of a group of volunteers that supervise the organization of the university as well as contribute money to the university. These volunteers hold a variety of different levels of expertise and important positions in politics, education, or business.
Typically, the board meets three times a year – twice in New York and once in Cairo. These meetings are funded by the board, and their travel accommodations are also on their own expense.
The AUC President talks to the board chair, currently Mr. Richard Bartlett, every ten days to remain updated on progress of the university’s happenings.
“It’s very interesting because when you think about it, they’re just volunteering, but they volunteer to take on this legal responsibility to oversee the university. ‘’ Anderson explains.
“In the case of allegations of mismanagement or corruption, they would be legally held liable” she added.
“The board includes individuals who are university administrators, business people who have experience in finance, and former diplomats. All of these individuals are willing to take on a legal responsibility to coordinate and look after how the university is run,” said Anderson.
There are thirty-six positions and thirty-three members on the board. The board is currently looking for people with business experience to fill the other three positions, due to their concern with the budget this year.
“There is a committee of trustees themselves who chooses new trustees, so it is self-reproducing,” explained Anderson.
During the meeting in New York, Anderson stated that she conveyed the students’ proposal from the strike that occurred earlier this semester that there be a student representative on the board, the proposal of which was discussed during last meeting.
“The pros and cons of this unusual but not completely novel idea were debated. They didn’t come to a firm conclusion about it but I think they’re not particularly enthusiastic about it, partly because students aren’t students for long and an AUC trustee’s term is usually long,” Anderson explains.
In order to overcome the idea of the short term of a student at university, there were proposals of getting a young alumni trustee, an idea which is also “unusual but not unheard of in the US” as Anderson describes.
“A young alumni trustee might serve the purpose of having a student trustee but with a longer period. These proposals should be discussed further during the board’s next meeting in Cairo and the board is planning to engage in an open discussion with the AUC Student Union,” she added.
Political science sophomore Omar Omar commented by saying, “I think it is very important that students participate in university decisions and that the student body is not marginalized like it was before.”
There are a variety of ways that the student representative can be chosen, but those details will be discussed at a later date when a final conclusion has been reached.
Also on the meeting’s agenda was the pressing issue of the university’s budget deficit in which they discussed the move to the new campus, and running the budget deficit in order to reach a situation where there would no longer be a deficit.
They debated how to get to the point where there is actually a budget so the university can once again start making investments in the future, what Anderson called “how we match our resources with our ambitions.”
“A huge portion of the conversation in New York was also included looking at the historical figures. It included examining how the budget looked ten years ago, five years ago, and how it looks now. In the date between five years ago and now, one can see the impact of the new campus on everything in the finances,” Anderson said.
The board will meet again this February to touch base with the university’s issues as well as discuss the status of faculty and the new amendments made to the faculty handbook.