Too Many Trustees Can Burden a Board, More Colleges Realize

Shrink My Board, Please 1

Nabil K. Mark, Centre Daily Times, MCT via Getty Images

Rodney Erickson, Penn State's president, speaks at a board meeting in November. The university's 32-member board, which has been bombarded with criticism over the recent child-sex-abuse scandal, is nearly three times as large as the average public college's.

In a dramatic scene that has been reduced to a footnote in the story of Southern Methodist University's football scandal, nearly three dozen trustees voted to fire themselves in the spring of 1987. By eliminating many of their own positions, the Southern Methodist board elected to do something few boards ever do: get smaller.

Those were desperate days for Southern Methodist. Following an investigation of a long-running pay-for-play football scheme at the university, the National