Trustee Q&A

How do trustees oversee the finances?

The short answer is that, as the governing body of the school, trustees are ultimately responsible for Gordon's finances.

The longer answer involves an annual cycle of reviews, discussions and projections.
 
Each year, trustees outline their strategic priorities, and the Finance Committee presents them with a budget that reflects those priorities. By each January, the budget for the following year has been finalized and approved. The trustees review this twelve-month budget alongside a five-year projection that illustrates the long-term impact of each decision.
 
Over the years, the Board has gone to great lengths to ensure that Gordon does not run into unexpected expenses. One powerful example is the school’s approach to capital projects. Gordon never starts a building project without knowing exactly how it will be paid for, and that plan always includes a permanent endowment that provides for the upkeep of the building into the foreseeable future.
 
Expenses are just half the budget. Trustees also develop the income side. Gordon has three main sources of revenue: interest on the endowment, fundraising income and tuition. Here, too, the trustees have worked to make sure these lines of the budget are steady and predictable over the years.
 
After creating the budget, the trustees, Finance Committee and administration monitor how it plays out over the course of the year. Any significant changes in income and expenses are reported to the trustees, and, at year’s end, the board commissions an independent audit of the school’s accounts.

Who is on the Board of Trustees?

There are currently twenty-six trustees on the Board. These twelve women and foiurteen men represent ten cities and towns in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Some are alumni, but most are parents of Gordon students or of alumni.

The Board always includes one representative of the GCA and one representative from the faculty, as well as the Head of the School. The rest of the trustees represent a wide range of professional skills, educational backgrounds, and volunteer experience.
 
The Board also must include individuals who have the ability and knowledge to chair each of the Board’s eight committees.
 
The Board has six officers: the Chair, three Vice Chairs, a Treasurer, and a Secretary, who all serve on the Board’s Executive Committee.
 
In general, trustees are elected to three-year terms and can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.
 
However, the Board officers serve one year terms, and the Chair also has the power to name up to four trustees who serve for one year as well. There are no limits on how long officers or board chair appointees can serve.

See also: Current Trustees
 

How are trustees selected?


The Board’s Trusteeship Committee must evaluate the board’s long-range leadership requirements. Having this information in hand helps to ensure that trustees with specific knowledge and competence are available when the board requires a particular expertise for discussions and planning, be it an architect to help identify future needs in the buildings and grounds, or a financial expert to help launch an endowment campaign.

Finally, the committee also works to ensure that the composition of the Board of Trustees reflects the racial, socioeconomic and geographic diversity of Gordon’s student body.
 
The committee has many variables to consider. They begin with the roster of parents who are currently volunteering on one of the board’s committees. They note these individuals’ personal and professional expertise, as well as the work they have already done on behalf of the school.
 
This ongoing review of the board committees produces an extensive pool of very qualified individuals with a variety of backgrounds from which the committee can pull qualified people to fill the board’s specific needs.
 

What are the board committees?


The Board is advised by standing committees which are active throughout the year.

The committees are made up primarily of parents of students, and they can also include Gordon staff and faculty, alumni and parents of graduates. 
 
After the board sets its strategic priorities, committees take on the legwork of researching and shaping the school's options. The committee's work returns to the board in the form of recommendations, which are then evaluated by the board as a group.
 
Many committees also have ongoing responsibilities. The Finance Committee, for instance, is an integral part of the annual budget process.
 
Each committee is chaired by a trustee, and includes at least one representative from the school administration. There are no term limits for committee participation.
  
Working back up this chain of responsibility, it is possible to see how the work of the Board of Trustees is being furthered continuously throughout the school year. Between meetings of the board, the committees and their subcommittees, and ad hoc committees that tackle specific projects on behalf of the board, Gordon’s governance team is in constant motion.
 
This committee structure allows the Board to draw on the energy and expertise of dozens of other people, and it allows the larger adult community to participate directly in the growth of the school. Parents who are interested in joining a committee should contact Development Director Paola Martinez, who can help identify a committee that matches their interests with the school's needs.