Dear Colleague:

The University of the State of New York (USNY) is a vast multi-billion dollar enterprise encompassing schools, colleges, universities, libraries, museums, public broadcasting and other educational and cultural institutions incorporated by the Board of Regents or the New York State Legislature. This enterprise has one common characteristic among almost all of its components. Each institution is governed by a board of individuals who willingly volunteer their services.

This Statement on the Governance Role of a Trustee or Board Member is provided by the Board of Regents to assist trustees/board members in exercising their responsibilities. The Statement has been updated since it was originally issued in November of 2001. The most significant change is an enhanced discussion of conflict of interest. Other topics have also been updated including internal controls, the definition of proprietary schools, and best practices for boards to follow. Additional links to websites have been added, as well as information on methods to report instances of fraud, waste, and abuse.

The Statement provides certain fundamental information regarding the stewardship role that members fulfill. The Regents recognize that USNY institutions vary greatly in the mission, size, form, and structure of their boards. This document provides guidance and information to assist all trustees/board members in the performance of their responsibilities. From the small historical society to the multi-million dollar college, university or school district, each board member has a fiduciary responsibility for the institution he/she governs.

We urge you to share this document with your board colleagues, become familiar with its contents, and integrate its provisions into your institution’s governance process, e.g., included in orientation materials for new board members or in the institution’s handbook, where one exists. It can also be accessed at the following web site: If you have questions or comments regarding the Statement, please refer to Appendix E for offices to contact in the State Education Department.

On behalf of the Board of Regents and the State Education Department, we thank you for your contributions as a trustee/board member. You are performing a much-needed and valuable service to your institution and the community it serves. Sincerely,

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