In 1939, the trustees of the university decided that elections for alumni trustees should be more dignified. There had previously been considerable competitive campaigning, large sums of money being spent by nominees, and many pressures.

After surveying the procedures used by other universities, the trustees suggested that the alumni association study the problem and make recommendations. The recommendation of the Cornell Alumni Association was the formation of the Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations (CATN). The committee was charged with stimulating a continuous and exhaustive search for the ablest alumni to be placed in nomination.

CATN includes alumni representatives from all Cornell colleges. In addition, it has representatives from a variety of alumni organizations, including the Cornell University Council, the Board of Trustees, the Cornell Annual Fund, Cornell clubs and local alumni associations, the Cornell Black Alumni Association, the Cornell Asian Alumni Association, Cornell Pride, the Cornell Association of Class Officers, and many others. Committee members are appointed for four-year terms.

Today, CATN reports to the Board of Trustees Committee on Alumni Affairs and screens and endorses qualified alumni to stand as candidates in the annual election for alumni trustees. In addition to endorsing candidates, CATN leadership (chair and vice chair) makes recommendations for process improvement and guideline updates associated with the election, candidates (endorsed and unendorsed), as well as committee work. Recommended changes to process, policy, or guidelines are forwarded to the Committee on Alumni Affairs and the Committee on Board Composition and Governance.

Committee members

The Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations (CATN) is composed of twenty-eight alumni members, one representing each college and fifteen from a broad range of alumni organizations. The committee is charged by the Cornell Alumni Association with screening and endorsing four qualified alumni to stand as candidates in the annual election for alumni trustees. Alumni, staff, students, and friends of the university submit the nominations received by the committee. While administratively supported by staff, the review of candidates and selection of nominees are wholly the responsibility of CATN.