Central campus at night.

Alumni-elected trustees

Representing Cornell's alumni on the Board of Trustees

Alumni-elected trustees have been part of Cornell’s fabric since 1874. Each year, two alumni are elected to join the full 64-member Cornell University Board of Trustees, which is vested with “supreme control” over the university, including all of its colleges and other units. Trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to the university as a whole. Among other responsibilities, the board elects the president, adopts an annual plan of financial operation, and establishes degrees to be awarded.


Magdalena Kalinka Bartishevich

Magdalena Kalinka Bartishevich

Senior Director, Engagement Initiatives



A history of alumni-elected trustees at Cornell

In 1872 Cornell University’s alumni were organized as the Associate Alumni, according to A History of Cornell written by Morris Bishop. Per the Cornell Charter, they were given the responsibility of electing a trustee to the Cornell University Board of Trustees (BOT). At that time, the only other institution that gave alumni this privilege was Harvard. Cornell held its first alumni trustee election in 1874. Initially, one alumni-elected trustee was added to the board each year for a five-year term.

In 1895, the charter was revised to provide for the election of two alumni trustees each year. The June 1895 election resulted in W. C. Kerr being elected for a full term and the other five trustees for terms determined in accordance with the revised charter. Beginning in 1896, two trustees were elected each subsequent year. In 1984, the terms were changed to four years.

In 1939, the alumni organization reformed and became the Cornell Alumni Association. One of the duties of the association was to “stimulate trustee nominations.”

2014 Trustee Council Annual Meeting (TCAM) Weekend: Official Sesquicentennial Kickoff Reception and Dinner.

Vote for alumni-elected trustees

By voting every spring, you are helping to select the alumni-elected members of the Cornell University Board of Trustees who guide the future of our alma mater. It's a right given to alumni by founder Andrew Dickson White, and it makes Cornell unique. So mark your calendar to vote every year!

Division of Alumni Affairs and Development 130 E. Seneca Street, Suite 400 Ithaca, NY 14850