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Role of the Board of Trustees in University Governance

The Pennsylvania State University was originally chartered by an act of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on February 22, 1855. The Morrill Act of 1862 (known as the Land Grant Act) of the Congress of the United States was accepted by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1863 and Penn State was thereafter designated as the institution in Pennsylvania to receive the benefits of the act.

The Board of Trustees of The Pennsylvania State University is the corporate body established by the charter with complete responsibility for the government and welfare of the University and all the interests pertaining thereto including students, faculty, staff and alumni. (See Standing Order VIII of the Charter, Bylaws and Standing Orders for additional information on Governance of the University.)

In the exercise of this responsibility, the Board is guided by the following policies (this statement on the general policies of the Board of Trustees was initially approved by the Board on June 11, 1970 and underwent subsequent amendments, the most recent being January 19, 1996):

  1. The authority for day-to-day management and control of the University, and the establishment of policies and procedures for the educational program and other operations of the University, shall be delegated to the President, and by him/her, either by delegation to or consultation with the faculty and the student body in accordance with a general directive of the Board.

    This delegation of authority requires that the Board rely on the judgment and decisions of those who operate under its authority. However, this reliance of the Board must be based upon its continuing awareness of the operations of the University. Therefore, the Board shall receive and consider thorough and forthright reports on the affairs of the University by the President or those designated by the President. It has a continuing obligation to require information or answers on any University matter with which it is concerned.

    Finally, upon request the Board shall advise the President on any University matter of concern to him/her.
  2. The Board of Trustees shall carry out certain responsibilities as a Board, without delegation. These responsibilities are:

    • (a) The selection of the President of the University
    • (b) The determination of the major goals of the University and the approval of the policies and procedures for implementation of such goals.
    • (c) The review and approval of the operating and capital budget of the University.
    • (d) Such other responsibilities as law, governmental directives, or custom require the Board to act upon.
  3. The Board of Trustees shall inform the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of the University's performance of its role in the education of the youth of Pennsylvania.
  4. The Board of Trustees shall assist the President in the development of effective relationships between the University and the various agencies of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States of America which provide to the University assistance and direction.