Press Releases | Best Practices

Proposal Would Reduce Ohio University Trustees to “Potted Plants”

February 22, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni issued the following statement today decrying the proposed Ohio University trustee guidelines as an attempt to stifle dissent and promote groupthink. The Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the proposal tomorrow.

The “Statement of Expectations for Members of the Board of Trustees of Ohio University” which the trustees are considering adopting would effectively make them nothing more than potted plants, said ACTA president Anne D. Neal.

The proposed policies understate the essential role the board plays in setting academic policy and suggest that board members should consider only the material presented to them by the administration. These policies also promote groupthink by limiting dissent and impose a gag rule on friendly disagreement.

Far from protecting the taxpayer, these expectations will likely breed timidity and inaction. Trustees will be more focused on toeing the party line than addressing the real needs of the university. It’s time trustees stepped up to the plate and took their role seriously as stewards of the public interest.

The student-run daily newspaper The Post also denounced the proposal in an editorial today. The guidelines come in the wake of the board’s much-criticized decision to raise the president’s pay at a time of reduced campus resources and without the completion of a comprehensive outside performance evaluation.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is an independent non-profit dedicated to empowering trustees on behalf of academic freedom, academic quality and accountability. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards, educated the public and published reports about such issues as good governance, historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas and accreditation in higher education.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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