The Board of Trustees is one of the University's three governing bodies, along with the Senate and the University Council. While the Senate is responsible for academic matters, the Board is responsible for the overall operation of the University, including overseeing financial matters and making senior appointments.
The Board meets regularly throughout the year and much of its work is done through committees. Some responsibilities have been delegated; for example, the Principal is now authorized to make most appointments and promotions on the Board's behalf.
The rules of composition of the Board have changed significantly since it was first described in Queen's Royal Charter. The original prerequisite was membership in the Presbyterian Church; in addition, to intensify the Presbyterian nature of the Board further, 12 of the original 27 Trustees had to be Presbyterian ministers. Between 1841 and 1912, several changes were made by Statutes governing the composition of the Board.
The present composition of the Board was established by a Statute of Canada in 1912, with certain amendments in 1914, 1916, and 1996. In August 2010, the University announced it would seek Parliament's approval to reduce the size of the Board from 44 to 25, citing the need to increase effectiveness and efficiency. At 44 members, including three ex-officio members - the Principal, the Chancellor, and the Rector - it is currently one of the largest university boards in Canada.
A 1916 federal amendment to the University's Royal Charter provides for four members to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, but so far that power of appointment has not been exercised. Board members elect for themselves a Chair and three Vice-Chairs.
The Board of Trustees is administered under the University Secretariat.
Chairs of the Board of Trustees since 1840:
- William Morris (1840-1842)
- John Hamilton (1843-1846)
- Francis Harper (1846-1849)
- John Hamilton (1850-1882)
- Alexander Morris (1883-1889)
- Justice D.B. Maclennan (1890-1912)
- Hamilton Cassels (1913-1921)
- W.F. Nickle (1921-1930)
- J.W. Macdonnell (1930-1957)
- E.C. Gill (1957-1963)
- R.D. Harkness (1963-1969)
- J.D. Gibson (1969-1975)
- R.W. Southam (1975-1980)
- Norman MacLeod Rogers (1980-1985)
- Walter F. Light (1985-1990)
- Richard G. Stackhouse (1990-1995)
- Donald Elliot (1995-2000)
- John Rae (2000-2006)
- William Young (2006-2012)
- Barb Palk (2012-2016)
- Donald M. Raymond (2016-2020)
- Mary Wilson Trider (2020-Present)
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