The Board of Regents is looking to institute changes that will help increase its diversity and also help improve enrollment numbers of the university.
By Roger Busse
The North Central Board of Regents will be overhauled after a vote in May. Its members voted for change and will next meet on Oct. 25 with reduced membership. The Board formerly consisted of 44 members according to a document from Chairman Ron Bontrager; however, the next meeting will only see about 30 members attend.
The Board plays a role in the “big picture” decision-making processes of North Central, such as tuition, building projects, and school mission. Moreover, it works closely with President Scott Hagan and plays a role in the development of new academic programs.
The Board was previously comprised of four church leaders from each of the 11 Midwest Assemblies of God districts plus several “at large” members, Bontrager explained in a phone interview. It consisted of one pastor, the district superintendent, the district youth director, and one “lay representative” from each of these regions. The “at large” category included lay people – typically business people – and church leaders.
However, the Board voted in May to reorganize and cut the number of members. North Central’s Board was large in comparison to University of Northwestern St. Paul’s 15 Board of Trustees members and Bethel University’s 30. Moreover, the old Board lacked diversity.
Bontrager hopes the restructured board will include more women, expand diversity, and function more efficiently. The changes may help the Board to have a more varied range of representation.
“I think it’s critical to get [women] on the board …,” said Bontrager. “I think females bring a perspective to leadership that is very much needed….”
Beyond a lack of diversity, the Board faced financial trials in recent years when North Central experienced enrollment challenges. North Central seeks to install Board members committed to its financial success.
Updating the board may influence North Central’s enrollment. By diversifying Board membership, North Central may attract new students from areas outside of the Great Lakes region, said Bontrager.
“The distinctives of the school; its philosophy, who we are, the ethos – that’s not going to change,” said Bontrager. “But we want to get more people to the table that can help us attract students from a larger base.”
Updating the Board reduced the number of residing district youth directors. However, this is not to say that they will be left out entirely – once per year, the eleven district youth directors will meet apart from the Board for several days, allowing their voice to be heard even more clearly than previously, said Bontrager.
“It’s difficult to have conversation and to have many people speak to issues if you have too many in the room,” Bontrager said. “We feel like this change will certainly be better for that.”
Bontrager explained in late September that invitations were being sent, and a definite number could not be placed on the size of the new Board. It may consist of about 30 members, include one person from each of the eleven districts (with invitations first extended to the superintended of each district), 16 “at large” members, and one or two district youth directors.
“It wasn’t that the past wasn’t good or that it didn’t work – we just want to make it work better.” Bontrager said.