Trustee Roles & Responsibilities

Roles of a Trustee

As effective members of the Board, trustees individually have a duty to:

  • Serve as an advocate for higher education and for the University System, helping to raise the profile of each institution and the System as a whole.
  • Ensure that the Mission of the institution is kept current and is aligned with public purposes.
  • Maintain a thorough understanding of economic trends and social needs within the State of New Hampshire and their potential impact of higher education.
  • Establish the Board-level policies and priorities of the University System, delegating where appropriate the implementation of these to the Chancellor and Presidents.
  • Carry out fiduciary responsibilities through policy development and oversight of the University System, ensuring adequate financial resources to fulfill the institutional missions.
  • Exercise authority in a manner that builds consensus toward the greater good of the University System, respecting differing points of view, balancing conflicting priorities and supporting majority action even when in disagreement.
  • Serve in a manner that upholds and comports with the Charter and Bylaws of the University System of New Hampshire.
  • Conduct the board’s business with the appropriate decorum in an exemplary fashion and with appropriate transparency, adhering to the highest ethical standards and complying with applicable open-meeting and public-records laws.
  • Support fundraising and other development efforts and serve as a liaison between the System and each institution and the business community, social and service organizations and alumni associations.
  • Comply with the letter and spirit of the Board’s conflict of interest policies and practice, the effect of which essentially bars USNH from doing business or having a financial relationship with a USNH Trustee or any organization owned or controlled by a USNH Trustee. Please see BOT III.I for further detail.

Core Responsibilities

  • Participate in the development and adoption of System and Institution mission statements.
  • Select, set the compensation, monitor, support, and assess the performance of the Chancellor and the Presidents.
  • Maintain the educational integrity of the System and component institutions by:
    • Reviewing existing academic programs, promoting academic excellence and maintaining the quality of programs.
    • Awarding promotion and tenure on the recommendations of the Chancellor and the Presidents.
    • Requiring each institution to establish and maintain a long-range academic plan as a component of the institutional strategic plan.
    • Requiring each institution to establish and maintain effective processes for the addition, alteration, deletion, and periodic review of all types of academic programs.
  • Establish tuition rates, set a differential in the rate of tuition to be charged all in- state and out-of-state students based on legislative policy.
  • Promote financial viability via budget and financial oversight, making certain that institutional finances are well managed. For example:
    • Review and approve:
      • Annual financial statements
      • Operating budget
      • Capital appropriation requests
      • Capital investment proposals
    • Monitor:
      • University System investments
      • Auditing process
  • Approve compensation policies for faculty and staff.
  • Engage in board self-study/self-assessment to ensure the effectiveness of the board structure and functions.
  • Acquire property through purchase or gift.
  • Establish long-term direction. Review and approve long-range strategic plans for consistency and advancement of the System and institutional missions.

Time Commitment

While it is recognized that ours is, in part, a volunteer board, it is expected that Trustees will participate in all Board meetings (4 regular meetings per year) and special sessions (e.g. orientations or retreats). Trustees also lead or serve on a standing committee(s) and may be asked to serve on an ad hoc committee or task force as needed. In calculating the overall commitment of time required for service on the Board, it is necessary to take into account the reading and review of materials (e.g., reports, motions, white papers, etc.) that are sent in advance of meetings. On average, Trustees commit a minimum of 10-12 hours per month, exclusive of travel. Attendance at USNH institutional commencement exercises, as well as at special events and/or programs at our institutions is strongly encouraged.


Approved by Governance Committee
June 7, 2010; Amended April 17, 2014