By James Read – [email protected]

I am writing to ask St. John’s University President Mike Hemesath, College of St.
Benedict President Mary Hinton, and the Boards of Trustees of SJU and CSB, to vote against the proposed removal of faculty and student trustees from the Board.

The rationale for the proposed removal, according to a consultant report, is that faculty and student trustees lack “fiduciary responsibility”— meaning that they do not have the good of the educational enterprise at heart. Our presidents, members of the Board, the monastic community, and graduates of the institutions are assumed to care deeply about these institutions as a whole. Faculty members and current students, in contrast, are classified in the consultant report as “constituency interests”–in other words, “special interests” who are not truly committed to the enduring success of our educational enterprise.

I believe this assumption is radically false. Most members of the faculty have dedicated a large portion of our careers to these institutions – in my own case, nearly thirty years so far. What we faculty members do has meaning and a future for us, only if it also helps provide meaning and a future for the students we teach. What does caring about the educational mission mean, if not this?

As for current students: who has a bigger stake than they do? Yes, the perspective of current students is limited in some respects. So is that of faculty members. So is that of presidents and members of the Board. No partner in this rich and complex enterprise is completely unbiased. All of us understand some parts of the operation well, and other parts less well.

But this is all the more reason to make sure that all voices are heard in institutional decision making, not just some. I urge you to oppose the removal of faculty and student trustees, which in my view does not advance the good of our educational institution as a whole.

This is the opinion of James Read, CSB/SJU political
science professor