Unique in the union, only Nevada’s governor does not have a role in appointing board members to the state's public universities or systems. The other 49 governors are all charged, in some capacity, with determining who holds the fiduciary duty for higher education.
Without a governor or state legislature, the District of Columbia’s mayor, with the advice and consent of the city council, appoints eleven members to the Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia. At least seven of those members must be residents of the District.
In the majority of the states, this duty is shared with the legislature. Six state legislatures appoint some member directly, and most others review and confirm appointees put forward by the governor. In a few instances—including Hawaii, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Virginia—external screening committees are involved in the appointment process. Still in seven instances, across three states, the governor appoints all board members with no confirmation process at all.
As higher education is facing calls to change, board appointments represent an important signal about state education priorities and commitment to developing independent, accountable governing boards. Board members are the ultimate fiduciaries and assume the sacred trust of setting policy for state institutions and systems.