Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is seeking an interested student to fill a seat on the board of trustees of the University of Oregon. The student trustee position will be open in July after the current student on the board, Will Paustian, graduates at the end of this academic year, according to the board’s announcement.
The student trustee is the only voting student on the 14-member board that makes large-scale decisions for the university. Recent topics have included construction at Matthew Knight Arena and tuition increases, among others.
Paustian said he encourages anyone who’s interested to apply, especially students pursuing careers in public policy, management, finances or higher education.
“My experience on the board has taught me more than any class I could have ever taken in college,” Paustian said in an email. “It is inspiring to see how many people genuinely care about the success and well-being of students at the university, whether they live in the state of Oregon or halfway around the world.”
While the rest of the board is made up of business leaders, timber executives, academics and philanthropists, Paustian’s role as the only student member is a unique one. Even so, some positions he’s taken with the board don’t always match the will of the student population.
“I am a representative from the student body but not a representative of the student body,” Paustian said of the position in the board’s vacancy announcement.
That distinction has been most evident in one major issue: tuition increases. Paustian has voted, according to board meeting minutes, in favor of tuition increases in at least two of his three years on the board.
In 2016, however, he pushed the board to approve a lower increase than they’d originally planned. That proposed amendment wasn’t adopted, according to the meeting’s minutes.
Tuition is the board’s most prevalent issue to students, Paustian said, but not necessarily the one with the biggest impact.
“There are equally important decisions that the board makes,” said Paustian. “But that gets the most attention from students, and rightfully so.”
The next student trustee will begin their two-year term on July 1, 2019, attending board meetings and other events throughout the year, according to the announcement. There are four board meetings currently scheduled for 2019.
Along with the student position, seven other trustees’ terms will end in June 2019, according to the state’s boards and commissions expiration document. Those expiring appointments include the faculty trustee position currently held by Laura Lee McIntyre, a professor in the College of Education.
Any student, faculty member or community member interested in serving on the board of trustees should apply by January 31, according to the announcement. Applicants must be nominated by Brown and then be confirmed by the state senate, according to the state’s application website.
This story was updated to correct the application deadline. The deadline is Jan. 31, not February.