Panel Approves Prieto Bill to Restructure Rutgers Governing Boards

Legislation Would Reduce Membership of University’s Board of Trustees

Legislation Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto sponsored to encourage greater efficiency within governing bodies at the state’s largest university was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-3988) would reduce the number of members on the Rutgers University Board of Trustees. It would also eliminate dual membership on both the Rutgers Board of Trustees and the Rutgers Board of Governors.

The measure follows the Board of Governors’ vote last Tuesday to support reducing the number of people serving on the Board of Trustees. In accordance with the decision, the Board of Trustees will have 41 members, down from 59. The legislation is intended to codify the governors’ vote – which calls for the first major restructuring of the boards in about 60 years – into state law.

“Rutgers has taken the lead in an effort to streamline operations and create a better-organized structure for its governing boards,” said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “All this was done to advance the goal of making the state’s flagship public university the best possible place for students in New Jersey, an objective that we all share.”

Under current law, the Rutgers Board of Trustees, which oversees the land and money the school acquired prior to 1956, includes charter trustees, alumni trustees and public trustees. Six of the 11 public trustees appointed by the governor also serve on the 15-member Board of Governors, which approves budgets, sets tuition and chooses the university president. The bill removes from the Board of Trustees the six public trustees who also serve on the Board of Governors.

As per the bill, any member appointed from the Board of Trustees to sit on the Board of Governors would be required to relinquish his or her place on the Board of Trustees upon taking the oath of office for the Board of Governors.

“The Rutgers Board of Governors has the power to make the bulk of the major decisions about the university’s future, rendering the current state of the Board of Trustees excessive,” said Prieto. “Considering its status as a major research university that attracts students from across the state, across the nation and across the world, this move is representative of progress not only for Rutgers but for all of New Jersey.”

The bill was advanced by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.