Who oversees the activities at your university? Is it the president? Provost? Dean? It’s actually the Board of Trustees (or for some colleges, the Board of Regents). These individuals make all of the major decisions for your university, such as construction plans, fundraising goals and top personnel changes. When a president and other top administrator are hired or fired, it’s because of the Board of Trustees (BOT).
Most college students are unaware of the people who direct life on their campus. As Election Day 2012 approached, I wanted to learn the political leanings of the men and women who run Webster University. First, I had to obtain a list of board members to begin my search. Today, most colleges publish the names of their BOT members on the web. However, if you are unable to find the names, ask your college to provide them to you. If you are at a state college or university, the names can be obtained through FOIA or Sunshine Law. At a private college, take a look at the Form 990, published on Guidestar, to learn about top brass.
With over 40 names in hand, I began a search of the Federal Election Commission’s campaign donation database. In the initial stages, I used a bulletin board to track the donations of BOT members. Soon, I ran out of bulletin boards. I quickly learned an Excel Spreadsheet was better-suited for the project. I learned a lot from the experience. So, to save you time and reduce stress, here are some tips garnered from my mistakes.
Continue reading HDWI: Board of Trustees and campaign donations