Board of Trustees Job Description

Washington and Lee University
Board of Trustees

Individual Job Description

For over two hundred seventy-one years, Washington and Lee University has benefited from the devotion, service, and contributions of many thousands of alumni and friends. From this broad constituency, a relative handful of individuals have been asked to assume the special responsibility and honor of serving as trustees. The performance of those invited to serve in this capacity is directly related to the institution’s vitality and strength. Thus, it is essential that individuals who are invited to serve as trustees understand and accept the responsibilities.

  • All individual trustees are expected to have a deep and abiding commitment to the University’s traditions and core values, including the Honor System. 
  • Through their words and deeds, trustees have the responsibility of upholding and strengthening the University’s reputation as a top tier liberal arts institution.
  • Trustees serve as ultimate fiduciaries in their oversight of institutional affairs in accord with the University’s charter, bylaws, mission statement, and other institutional plans.
  • Trustees have the responsibility of providing financial support to the University through consistent and meaningful contributions to the annual fund and special fundraising campaigns, and through participation in the solicitation of other individuals and organizations. Trustees shall identify sources of philanthropy of which the University may not be aware. As a condition of service as a trustee, the University will be a primary beneficiary of the trustees’ personal philanthropy according to his or her means.
  • Trustees serve the University as a whole, and their actions and votes should be on that basis rather than on behalf of any particular internal or external constituency. Trustees should not make judgments on the basis of information received from individuals or groups who have a perceived or real grievance or cause, or speak for the University in such instances. Any information that might materially affect the University, positively or negatively, should be communicated promptly to either the President or the Rector. Trustees should maintain strict confidentiality and discretion when discussing board matters. Only the President and Rector, or their designee(s), are authorized to issue official statements for the University or the Board of Trustees.
  • Trustees are expected to participate in all board meetings and to demonstrate familiarity with all materials distributed in advance. They should contribute to the board’s efforts to make informed and thoughtful decisions consistent with its fiduciary responsibilities and the University’s mission. While most trustees will assume expenses associated with board and other meetings, reimbursement funds are available.
  • Newly elected trustees will attend an orientation program held on campus. Each trustee will serve on at least two board committees, and may be asked to accept new assignments from the Rector from time to time. Each trustee should feel free to express his or her interest in other committee assignments in order to take advantage of his or her experience and talents.
  • Trustees actively promote Washington and Lee University to alumni, prospective students, donors, foundations, their local communities, and the public at large. Such informed advocacy reflects favorably on their commitment to the institution and helps advance Washington and Lee.
  • Trustees shall strive to participate in University activities. Such participation strengthens their knowledge of the institution and contributes to a broader understanding between trustees and other members of the University community.
  • Trustees shall take care in making distinctions between University governance and management and University administration. The board must establish policies and monitor their implementation, but respect the rights of the faculty, the administration, and student leadership to perform their respective functions.
  • Trustees must avoid any situation that could cause even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Any potential or actual conflict should be disclosed promptly to the Rector and handled in accordance with board policy.
  • Trustees shall refrain from asking the president or other members of the University community for personal favors.

As of May 2021