Attorney General: Senator Reginald J. Smith, State Capitol, 1990-018 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

June 5, 1990

Senator Reginald J. Smith
State Capitol
Hartford, Connecticut 06l06

Dear Senator Smith:

You have requested our opinion as to whether the procedure followed for the election of faculty and student representatives to the foundation board at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) was consistent with state statutes. We conclude that while the election for the faculty representative held during this academic year did comply with Public Act 89-267, the election for the student representative did not. Further, the policy initially adopted by the Connecticut State University (CSU) to govern the elections was not in accord with the statute. However, that policy has been revised to bring it into compliance with Public Act 89-267.

Public Act 89-267, effective June 29, l989, concerns private foundations which benefit state agencies and institutions. The portion of that act which governs the elections in question is as follows:

(3) If the state agency is a public institution of higher education, the following persons shall serve as nonvoting members of the governing board of the foundation: The executive authority of the institution, or his designee, a student enrolled at the institution, who shall be elected by the students enrolled in the institution and a member of the faculty of the institution, who shall be elected by the faculty of the institution. Elections pursuant to this subdivision shall be conducted in accordance with procedures for such elections established by the board of trustees of the constituent unit which has jurisdiction over the institution;

Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) is a public institution of higher education and Connecticut State University (CSU) is the constituent unit of the State Board of Higher Education which has jurisdiction over it.

Pursuant to the act, CSU, through its Board of Trustees, adopted a policy, on September 8, l989, to govern the elections for faculty and student foundation board representatives. The relevant portions of the resolution are as follows:

C. Election of Students to the Foundation Board

(1) Each foundation shall have an elected student representative who shall serve as a nonvoting member of the governing board of the foundation

...

3) The student representatives to the campus foundations shall be elected for a one-year term by the respective student senate from their memberships

...

D. Election of Faculty Members to the Foundation Board

(1) Each foundation shall have an elected faculty member who shall serve as a nonvoting member of the governing board of the foundation

...

(3) The faculty representative to the campus foundation shall be elected from the corresponding campus faculty senate for a one-year term

...

The CSU policy contemplates that the faculty and student representatives will be members of the respective senates and, at least in the case of the student representative, will be elected only by members of the senate.

Public Act 89-267 does not limit the voting for faculty and student representatives to members of the respective senates. Nor does the public act limit the selection of the representatives from among members of the respective senates. Instead, student representatives shall be "elected by the students enrolled in the institution..." and faculty representatives shall be elected by "the faculty of the institution." The CSU policy, therefore, does not comply with the provisions of Public Act 89-267. The Board of Trustees of CSU reviewed these policies and revised them on March 30, 1990. The revisions, effective on March 30, 1990, will ensure that the entire faculty votes on its representative, who need not be a member of the faculty senate (see attachment). All students eligible to vote will elect the student representative, who need not be a member of the student senate. The policy has been revised to conform to the public act because the act controls the policy. State ex rel. Huntington v. McNulty, l5l Conn. 447, l99 A.2d 5 (l964).

The elections for the academic year, 1989-1990, at WCSU were conducted as follows. The entire faculty elected their representative, who is not a member of the faculty senate. That election conforms to the public act. The student senate voted to have the student senate president serve as the interim student representative. Although that person was elected by the entire student body eligible to vote, the vote of the student body was for president of the student senate, not for student representative to the foundation board of directors. Since the student body did not vote to elect a representative to the foundation board of directors until April 1990, the vote taken by the student senate for the interim student representative did not conform to the provisions of the public act.

Very truly yours,

CLARINE NARDI RIDDLE
ATTORNEY GENERAL

Diane W. Whitney
Assistant Attorney General

CNR/DWW/esm


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