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SU Board of Trustees Members Speak to SGA

For many students at Suffolk University, the Board of Trustees was a disregarded being that met somewhere and made decisions sent out in email blasts we ignored. That all changed last winter when students took to picketing in the streets of Boston to protest the Board’s decision to oust President Margaret McKenna.

Now the Board has undergone changes in its own hierarchy. Robert Lamb, who became Chairman of the Board of Trustees this past May, addressed the Student Government Association (SGA) last Thursday at their weekly meeting.

“I want to be the most boring chairman of the board as according to The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald,” Lamb said in reference to the board’s bad publicity following the McKenna dispute. “I want the focus to be on the students, the faculty, and the great accomplishments of the alumni.”

Lamb, a Braintree native and West Point graduate, said he has been “changing the way the trustees operate and the way the trustees interact with the Suffolk community.” He’s visited classes, including one in the law school, and has been “listening and learning” from different groups on campus. Lamb will ask that trustees attend a Suffolk class once a year and stated that over a third of the board has rotated off, meaning Suffolk is on its way to having a new board.

Former President McKenna publicly stated she wanted to pursue mediation and Lamb said he supports her right to go through this process. Lamb had two meetings with McKenna when he took over as chairman in May (before the board voted in July for her to leave her post as president). “My honest intention was to work with her,” said Lamb.

Going forward, Lamb wants to change the story on Suffolk. “We want the world to understand how valuable a Suffolk degree is,” he said.

Also present was John Brooks, the chairman of the Presidential Search Committee. According to Brooks, one committee position, intended for someone belonging to the broader Boston community, is still open. The other nineteen members are a mix of trustees, students (including SGA President Sean Walsh), faculty, and alumni.

Students received a presidential search survey in their Suffolk email accounts last week. Brooks stated that town hall meetings (some for students, some for alumni, and some for faculty and staff) will begin on November 14th. Committee members will be present mostly to get feedback but also to answer questions. Brooks insisted that the committee is not thinking about specific candidates just yet, but put an emphasis on listening to the Suffolk community. “All during this process we want to be very transparent,” said Brooks.

There’s no need to rush the search, according to Brooks, because Suffolk has a great current president in Marisa Kelly. Still, he hopes to have a new leader next year. “I am very confident that if we do this right,” said Brooks, “we won’t need another search committee for another ten years.”

Brooks emphasized the importance of the university working together and the board having strong communication with the candidate to ensure they stay with Suffolk. A long-term president is desired, as Suffolk has had six presidents since 2010.

During the remainder of the meeting, SGA President Sean Walsh announced he wants to compile students’ grievances about starting the semester before September 1st to appeal to the university for a later start date going forward.

The Finance Committee’s new “80/40 rule” was also revealed. Clubs and organizations will now receive 80 percent of funding from the school for the first four students attending a conference and 40 percent for every member attending thereafter.

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