In 1986, the Board of Trustees of Tufts University established a network of Boards of Advisors to serve as a vitally important resource to the president and to the trustees as they work to guide the further development of the university and its schools, and to expand awareness of Tufts’ excellence and contributions nationally and internationally. There are ten boards, one for each of the schools, one for the Athletics Program and an International Board of Advisors. These boards comprise more than 250 men and women of national and international stature from business, medicine, academia, and other fields. Membership includes trustees, alumni, parents, and friends of Tufts.
Each Board of Advisors has been established to focus attention on, and address the needs and aspirations of, a particular school or programmatic area at Tufts, advancing and serving the interests of the university as directed by its academic leadership. Advisors bring to their deliberations the breadth of knowledge and experience gained through years of professional involvement in the areas of activities associated with the work of their board. Since their inception, the Boards of Advisors have proven to be invaluable contributors to the advancement of Tufts University’s reputation and capabilities around the globe.
Advisors have three primary responsibilities: to become knowledgeable about Tufts and its activities through participation in meetings specifically designed to provide the kinds of information necessary to be an articulate spokesperson about and representative of the university among friends, associates, and colleagues; to serve in an advisory capacity, individually and as part of a board, to further the mission of the university and to counsel and support the dean; and to assist in the acquisition of resources essential to the further advancement of the university in its teaching, research, and service missions. Advisors are encouraged to aid in the introduction of potential members to the boards of the university.
Please see the attached document outlining advisors’ role in admissions.
Governance of the Boards of Advisors is the responsibility of the provost and senior vice president. The Boards of Advisors report to the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees of the university. The Executive Committee appoints advisors to the various boards for five-year terms. It reviews all meeting reports to assure that the advisors receive an appropriate response to formal recommendations, and to bring the reports and recommendations to the attention of the Board of Trustees. It is the responsibility of the Office of the Boards of Advisors to arrange the schedule of meetings, to assist in the development of activity reports, and to provide such additional logistical and support services as necessary for the efficient and effective operation of the Advisor Program. The Office of the Boards of Advisors is managed by the director who reports to the provost.
The Council of the Boards of Advisors comprises the council chair and chairs of the individual boards. Meetings of the council are held annually and include the provost, the vice provost, the school deans and program directors, and the chairs of each board. The council serves as an oversight and coordinating body for the Boards of Advisors Program and is responsible for developing overall goals and objectives for the Advisors Program. It serves as a forum for the discussion of specific initiatives and directions for activities of the various Boards of Advisors consistent with the strategic, long-range plans of the university, and brings to these discussions a university perspective.
Appointments are made by the president and by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees on recommendation of the current board chair and dean or program director, council chair and provost. Every effort is made to appoint a chair with a special knowledge or interest in the areas to be overseen. Chairs serve for three-year terms, renewable once, which provides important continuity for the board and its effectiveness over time. Under exceptional circumstances, appointments may be extended by the president and Board of Trustees. The chair has responsibility for participating in the planning of the meeting agenda, chairing all meetings, and maintaining open communications with the dean or program director and members of the board.
The nomination of the chair of the Council of the Boards of Advisors shall be made by the Committee on Trusteeship after receiving and considering the recommendations of the president of the university with respect thereto.
Every effort is made to achieve a board membership that reflects the various constituencies relevant to the university and the school: academics in the relevant fields, experienced professionals with relevant industry or business affiliations, women, men, minorities, prospective donors to the university, and non-alumni/ae as well as alumni/ae.
Advisor nominations may be initiated by the board chair and school dean or program director. Boards may form a nominating committee to consider and review potential candidates. Names of candidates, accompanied by a curriculum vitae or other relevant information indicating the individual’s qualifications to serve as an advisor, should be sent to the Office of the Boards of Advisors. Once a formal nomination is prepared and there is agreement among the dean or program director, board chair, provost, senior vice president for advancement and the council chair, the nomination is submitted to the Executive Committee for approval. Candidates should not be invited to join the board until the nomination has received formal approval from the provost, vice president for advancement and the Executive Committee.
Any active trustee may be appointed to a board without Executive Committee approval provided there is agreement by the board chair, dean or program director, provost and council chair.
Membership transfers from one board to another can be made without Executive Committee approval provided there is agreement by the board chair, dean or program director, provost and council chair.
Once the nomination has been approved by the Trustee Executive Committee, the Office of the Boards of Advisors prepares a formal letter of invitation from the Office of the Provost. The board chair and dean of the school or program director should decide whether to contact the candidate by telephone before the letter from the provost is sent. A call allows the chair or dean to outline the commitment and expectations of service on the board.
Members initially serve five-year terms and may receive one term extension of five years on the advice of the board chair and the dean of the relevant school. Renewal of membership terms is coordinated by the director of the program in consultation with the school dean or program director and board chair. Advisors’ terms end on June 30 of the fifth year following the appointment. Under exceptional circumstances, the term of appointment may be extended beyond ten years with the approval of the president and Trustee Executive Committee. On completion of his or her term, advisors may be offered emeritus status upon recommendation of the university provost, council chair, school dean or program director and board chair. University trustees generally serve without term limit during their tenure as trustees. At the conclusion of a trustee’s term, his or her advisor term will normally expire the following June. Should a current advisor be elected to the Board of Trustees, his or her term may be extended to run concurrently with the new trustee term.
Each member is expected to participate actively in formal board meetings (held semi-annually) and in university and school events throughout the year. An advisor who misses two consecutive board meetings may be asked to resign. Given the unique nature of the International Board of Advisors and some of the travel requirements for attendance, a separate set of attendance requirements is necessary and will be established by the chair of the International Board of Advisors, the provost and the council chair.
Members of the faculty, administration, staff, and current students at Tufts, or other individuals, for whom there may be a conflict of interest, may not normally serve on the boards.
The Boards of Advisors regards all materials, discussions, and reports connected with an advisor meeting as confidential information. Advisors must sign into the password-protected Advisors Private Site to view confidential materials as necessary.
Each board is strongly encouraged to hold orientation for new members. Some chairs have sponsored a dinner the evening before a meeting, others have scheduled a half-day program with introductions to key administrators. No one format is required. The Office of the Boards of Advisors can advise on best practices and will assist in this process as requested.
Each of the ten boards convenes twice each year. Some boards choose to meet a third time by phone or videoconference. Meetings generally take place over one day and have the following components:
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At least once per year, the board may meet for dinner with members of the school and senior members of the university administration.
Meetings generally include a welcome by the board chair, the provost, and the school dean or program director; presentation and discussions; sessions with faculty and students; and, if required, an executive session for the board only. The president and provost will generally visit one meeting of each board per year. The president’s or provost’s attendance and briefing will be coordinated through the director of the Office of the Boards of Advisors.
It is the responsibility of the Office of the Boards of Advisors to arrange the schedule of meetings, to assist in the development of all board meetings and related events, and to provide such additional logistical and support services as are necessary for the efficient and effective operation of the advisor program. The Advisors Office sets the meeting date, in consultation with the president, senior officers, school dean or program director, and board chair, and secures meeting locations.
The Advisors Office sends board members an electronic notice reminding them of the meeting date, asking for an attendance commitment, and requesting suggestions for agenda topics.
The director meets with the school dean or program director and board chair to discuss schedule and agenda logistics and background materials needed, and to begin focusing on key issues to be addressed in the upcoming meeting. Board members’ suggestions, as well as the prior minutes, and feedback from meeting surveys are useful resources for this meeting.
The Advisors Office posts all pertinent meeting materials to the private site. Information includes the final agenda, relevant materials, board membership roster, and minutes from the previous board meeting. Members are strongly encouraged to review these materials in advance and to bring them to the meeting.
The Advisors Office informs the board chair of expected attendees and discusses any specific logistic or agenda issue that relate to the conduct of the meeting. The board chair, school dean or program director, and administrative director meet by conference call to discuss final plans for the meeting.
Board chairs and school deans or program directors work together in planning the agenda for advisor meetings. The board chair should discuss with the school dean or program director the major issues of concern in the school or program in order to help create an agenda that will allow for an effective examination and airing of such issues for consideration by the senior administration and the trustees.
Rather than try to present all issues relating to the school’s educational and research activities, the agenda should focus on a few critical issues, including those that may have bearing on broader university concerns as well as individual school or programmatic specific issues. Many departments involved in long-range strategic planning have found it useful to engage the advisors in this process, using the board as a sounding board for proposed new programs or directions. Meetings are most successful when the agenda allows time for open and frank discussion in order to tap the expertise of the board members.
Time should be allotted for a presentation on the state of the school or program by the school dean of program director, including a response to the previous meeting’s recommendations and the status of any unresolved issues.
At least once per year, the university president will endeavor to attend a portion of each board meeting providing opportunity for open dialogue on broad university-wide issues and/or specifics related to an individual school or program.
The university provost will normally attend a portion of each meeting and, in the case of those meetings when the university president is not there, would play the role of providing an overview of the university-wide issues and encourage open dialogue.
Executive sessions would include the board dean/director, but all other Tufts staff would not attend that portion of the meeting. The decision as to whether or not an executive session is needed, and how much of the agenda it should occupy, would be determined by the board chair and the board dean as the agenda is planned.
Research and other presentations to the board should put the school’s best foot forward by presenting recent work by new faculty, renovation plans, or other current topics of interest. Care should be taken to keep the agenda from becoming overcrowded with presentation so that time for open discussion among board members is not sacrificed.
It is the responsibility of the board chair to ensure that the meeting stays on schedule while addressing all agenda items and offering all advisors an opportunity to ask questions and make recommendations. A representative from the Office of the Boards of Advisors will be present at each meeting to assist as necessary with preparation of the meeting room, distribution of materials, and catering, transportation, or audio/visual needs.
A detailed written report should highlight the primary issues identified in the meeting and cover all substantive issues raised in the meeting. This report is drafted by a staff member who has been designated by the school dean or program director and then reviewed and approved by the dean or director and board chair. Within six weeks of the meeting, the final report should be forwarded to the Office of the Boards of Advisors for submissions to the Trustee Executive Committee for approval and electronic distribution to the members of the board.
The chair of the Council of the Boards of Advisors, with the approval of the Committee on Trusteeship of the Board of Trustees, is authorized to make exceptions to any of the policies and procedures contained herein when necessary for the effectiveness of the advisor process.