The University of Miami is a duly chartered private educational institution incorporated under the laws of the State of Florida; its original Charter and all amendments thereto were granted by the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Dade County, as permitted by the Florida Statutes prior to 1959.
The first Board of Regents of the University of Miami was founded in 1926 and chaired by William E. Walsh, a Miami Beach municipal judge. Judge Walsh remained chairman until 1929, when he and other board members resigned in the wake of the financial collapse that followed the end of the Miami land boom and the hurricane of 1926. Their hope was that a newly constituted board would project a positive image to the community during trying times.
The reconstituted board was comprised of ten members, including Bowman Foster Ashe, formerly an economics professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Ashe chaired the board and became the first President of the University. The Ashe Building, where many senior University administrators labor, is named in his honor. Other members of that board whose names you will recognize are: George Merrick, the founder of Coral Gables (the Merrick Classroom Building is named after him), Theodore Dickinson, a retired businessman from Chicago (a street on the Coral Gables campus is named after him), E. B. Douglas, David Fairchild, James H. Gilman, Richardson Saunders, Frank B. Shutts, Joseph H. Adams, and J. C. Penney.
In July 1934, the University of Miami was reincorporated and the University of Miami Board of Trustees was established. For a few months under the new charter, President Ashe and four members of his administration comprised the board. By 1940, community leaders were replacing faculty and administration as trustees.
From these humble beginnings, the University of Miami Board of Trustees has grown considerably, with 31 elected members, 3 alumni representatives, 27 senior members, 6 national members, 6 ex-officio members, 19 emeriti members, and 1 student representative.
Ex-officio members, who serve by virtue of their positions in the University, include the President of the University, the President and Immediate Past President of the Citizens Board, and the President, President-Elect, and Immediate Past President of the Alumni Association.
The board holds two regularly scheduled meetings each year (in the fall and winter), and an annual meeting in the spring. The administration strives to bring policy matters to the board at each meeting for thorough evaluation, discussion, and recommendation or approval.
To operate University business efficiently, the board has established four general categories of committees - organizational, business affairs, academic affairs, and miscellaneous. Presently, five standing committees fulfill diverse functions in the governance of the University. The committees are active throughout the academic year, each meeting an average of two to three times with the exception of the Executive Committee which meets approximately six times each year. Committee members discuss matters under their purview and make appropriate recommendations.
In 1982, the board established visiting committees to study various aspects of academic life. Presently, there are 13 visiting committees. Members include trustees and other knowledgeable and interested persons from outside the University, who assess the performance of a specific unit of the University, study its problems, document its needs, and report their observations and conclusions to the board and the President.
Trustee responsibilities at the University of Miami include the following: i) electing or removing the President of the University; ii) approving the University's long-range plans and major changes in academic policy; iii) ensuring financial solvency; iv) maintaining the physical plant; v) fund raising; and vi) enhancing the University’s public image. The board's strong committee structure combined with the dedication and diligence of individual board members effectively accomplishes these responsibilities. In order to assist committees in their deliberations, the administration of the University provides complete information to each committee member in advance of meetings. Committee chairs keep the full board apprised of their decisions and/or recommendations on a timely basis. Additionally, administration sends a report of significant University events to each trustee shortly before each board meeting.