Senator proposes changes to BOV appointment process

Bill seeks to reduce number of Board members appointed by governor, increase alumni voting

State Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, submitted a bill to the state legislature in December that would allow University’s alumni to elect four of the University’s Board of Visitors members. Current law allows the Virginia governor to appoint all 17 members of the Board with legislative confirmation.

In an interview with The Roanoke Times, Edwards said the bill only affects the University, rather than all state universities.

University Alumni Association President Tom Faulders said the bill did not surprise him, as a similar one was submitted last year. Under the proposed system, low voter turnout could make it possible for a dedicated minority of alumni to secure a position for an otherwise unworkable candidate Faulders said. However, he said, elected alumni would feel a greater responsibility toward their alma mater.

But Faulders said it is “way too early to tell” what the effects of the bill would be at this time. “[The bill] is noticeably lacking in details,” Faulders said.

The proposed changes do not include any outline for the implementation of a voting system and the alumni association does not have any plans of its own at this time, Faulders said.

Currently, Virginia law allows the alumni association to submit a list of recommendations for Board appointments to the governor, though the governor is not obligated to adhere to them.

The University administration did not take a firm stance on Edwards’ proposal.

“The Code of Virginia assigns to the governor the responsibility to name members of Board of Visitors, and to the General Assembly the responsibility to confirm those selections,” University spokesperson McGregor McCance said in an email. “The University’s leadership respects this process and neither takes a position nor makes any comment on Sen. Edwards’ proposed legislation.”

The bill is currently under review by the Senate Higher Education subcommittee. A previous version of the bill submitted by Edwards, Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath and Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, was tabled indefinitely by that same committee in 2012.

The laws governing the Board were last changed in 2012 when a requirement that 12 of the Board members be alumni was added. The proposed bill does not affect the currently mandated minimum of 12 alumni on the Board.

Published January 12, 2014 in FP test, News

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