Board of Trustees explained

The Hamline community has faced endless changes in the past two years. One recurring name throughout discussions related to these changes is that of the Board of Trustees, so who is the Board and what role do they play?


Nathan Steeves
Hamline University’s Old Main houses administrative offices and staff, including President Fayneese Miller’s office.

Anika Besst, News Editor

For Junior Julie Mesita, her limited experience with the Board of Trustees is more than most Hamline students. 

Mesita remembers giving a board member a tour of campus through her job as a Student Ambassador and attending the 100 Who Influence luncheon her first-year, where student leaders and trustee members discuss the Hamline experience. Other than that, her interactions and understanding of the board and their responsibilities is limited, a perspective echoed by many students. 

“I don’t really know much of what they do other than give money,” Mesita said. “I don’t know what they do and how they’re supposed to support me.” 

Almost all institutions of higher education have some sort of governing board. At Hamline, like many institutions, this is the Board of Trustees. At private institutions trustees are elected, while public universities  feature both elected and government appointed individuals.

Betsey Radtke, Executive Assistant to President Fayneese Miller, serves as liaison to the University Leadership Team. Her role includes many responsibilities, one of which is overseeing Board of Trustees relations. 

“There is sometimes a misunderstanding about the role of the Board. Often students believe that the Board of Trustees manages or leads the university, but in reality, they empower President Miller to do that,” Radtke said. “[The board has] fiduciary responsibility for the overall mission, policy and direction of the University’s academic and educational purposes.” 

The responsibility of managing Hamline is delegated to President Miller, the university’s chief executive officer, who then reports to the board.

Hamline is a nonprofit, or a 501(c)(3), meaning it is a tax-exempt and charitable organization. 

Nonprofit Management professor Jim Schiebel has served on around 70 boards, including nonprofits such as TPT and the National Youth Leadership Council, as well as governing the city of St. Paul. He understands the role of a nonprofit board such as Hamline’s Board of Trustees and the responsibilities of governance intimately. 

“Like any nonprofit or 501(c)(3), number one: The organization’s are mission driven. And so a trustee has to be very wedded, and I would say, be passionate about the mission because you don’t get paid as trustees… People accept a lot of responsibility governing a nonprofit,” Schiebel said. “The trustees are there to not only review but support and ensure that President Miller has what she needs to be an effective and impactful president.” 

Hamline’s Board of Trustees is composed of Hamline alum, St. Paul and Minnesota community members and others. They meet three times per year.

Most members serve on a committee within the board. These committees meet the week before the full Board and bring forth any recommendations that need discussion or approval. 

The committees cover the topics of academic and student affairs, finance, facilities, investment and trusteeship. There is also an executive Committee which includes the Board officers and committee chairs.

In the past two years the role of the board has not changed, with the frequency and mode of their meetings being an evolving factor. Board meetings have moved to virtual platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic with their last meeting this fall operating in a hybrid form. 

“My hope is one: we have really a long history of being the oldest college, university, but it’s really been that we have a great tradition about higher education… People want to make a difference in the community,” Schibel said. “Our mission is to not only create scholarly people, but to create great public citizens. I think we have a great track record of doing that. And we don’t do it today the way we did it five years ago, or 10 years ago, and then that’s again, what I find exciting… [is] it’s all of our faculty, staff, students, trustees, we all have to be about creating and supporting a university that meets and will address some of the big issues we’re facing today.” 

For more information on the Board of Trustees, visit: