On Tuesday, April 14, students will have the opportunity to do something very few of their peers at other colleges and universities are able to do — vote for a Trustee who is an undergraduate student. Notice that I didn’t say a “Student Trustee” because the person you elect will be a full voting member of the Cornell University Board of Trustees with the same voice among 64 equals. Next year, you will elect a graduate student.
Cornell is unique among its peers because it has trustees with full rights chosen by and representing specific constituencies — undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, employees, alumni and representatives of New York State. This is not a new experiment. It has been so for some 40 years.
In my years as a trustee, I have had the opportunity to work with seven trustees who are students. I can tell you that each has represented his and her constituencies with great distinction. Each has brought to the task an agenda to move Cornell University forward and to help the other 62 trustees understand better the needs of the student body. In each case, he or she had a full voice in committee meetings as well as full board meetings, including executive sessions where all non-Trustees are absent.
The person you elect on April 14 will be representing your interests. He or she will tell the rest of the Board of your concerns and your feelings about how to make Cornell an even better place. He or she will be presenting ideas about how to improve campus life, voting on budgets, approving new programs, affirming tenure decisions and making other important decisions.
You decide which one of the 11 people running for Trustee will represent you. It is a very important decision. I urge you to vote and choose the person you feel will best represent you to help Cornell University achieve even greater heights.