A group of lawmakers in Maryland is attempting to change the state university system’s governor-appointed Board of Regents in the wake of the governing body’s much-criticized response to the death of University of Maryland College Park football player Jordan McNair.
The state lawmakers have introduced legislation adding to the board the state’s secretary of commerce, a second student regent, a member chosen by the speaker of the House and a member chosen by the president of the Senate. It would also require the governor to appoint at least one board member with experience in higher education administration, one with experience in finance and one experienced in diversity and workplace inclusion.
Maryland’s governor would have to submit nominees to the State Senate for confirmation, and the Senate would have to confirm the board’s nomination for chair.
In addition, the bill would require the board to live-stream its public meetings online, archive public meeting streams, publish motions and vote totals from public meetings and executive sessions, and to accept public testimony.
Although legislative moves to change university governing boards are often criticized as partisan or political, the bill’s backers wrote in a Baltimore Sun op-ed that they are interested in good governance.
“This legislation is not a political power grab, partisan or otherwise,” they wrote. “It’s about good governance. Both Democratic and Republican governors have appointed stellar regents, but certain decisions have given us and the general public room to be concerned. A little transparency and accountability will go a long way in re-establishing trust and ensuring Maryland continues to have the best higher education system in the nation.”