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What Do Trustees Do for Elite US Research Universities?

Sheila Slaughter
Meigs Hall 101
Education Policy Seminar

Please join us as Sheila Slaughter, Louise McBee Professor of Higher Education at the Institute of Higher Education, will give a seminar on American Association of University (AAU) trustees and the part they play at elite US research Universities.  Her work on the University of Georgia Trustees Project was funded by both the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Slaughter and her team built a data set of American Association of Research Universities trustees at ten year intervals from 1975 to 2015. They have data on each trustee at all 54 AAU* US universities that includes the names of the trustees, their education, the boards of directors of for-profit firms on which they sit as well as the type of firm as identified by NAICs codes, the non-profit organizations of which they are directors, and the government positions they hold. Drawing on this data, Slaughter will talk about the ways in which universities trustees’ affiliations with external organizations creates a network that bridges universities, for-profit, non-profit and state sectors. She will examine the very great changes that took place over the 40 years studied, and outline the ways in which trustees firms’ centrality to the network are associated with increases in universities’ total expenditures, current fund revenues, endowment, research revenues and connections to Knowledge and Technology Intensive (KTI) firms.

She will also look at the role trustees play in research strategy, innovation and economic development. Given that trustees sit on the boards of directors of large corporations with research interests, trustees may are likely an important channel connecting universities to the economy. We found an increased convergence between the research fields of a university and the science fields of the corporations to which trustees were connected. There is evidence that the number of university trustees connected to science-based corporations positively influences the amount of R&D funding a university receives.

Finally, using case data from MIT and CalTech, she will speak to what trustees specifically did to organize resources for science, and what universities did organize science for entrepreneurial corporations in 2010.

*There are 60 US AAU universities, but 6 (i.e., University of California, State University of New York) have a centralized board that cover research universities. Since we were concerned with authority to make decisions on the part of trustees, who hold legal, moral and fiduciary responsibility for these universities, we focused on the state-wide board.

Light refreshments will follow the seminar. Please RSVP to by Thursday, October 18. We hope to see you there!

Professor Emerita of Higher Education

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