Protocol For Public Comment
At Board of Trustees Meetings
The University of Vermont is a distinguished institution with a proud history, based on a strong intellectual community and a concern for the quality of life in the communities that it serves. Its aspirations reflect its values, which include a commitment to rigorous intellectual inquiry and critical thinking, and a willingness to address difficult societal issues with honesty, civility, and practicality. This University community values respect, integrity, innovation, openness, justice, and responsibility and promotes the intellectual capacity to engage in ethical decision making.
Under the University Charter, the Board of Trustees (“the Board”) has ultimate responsibility for the entire management and control of the affairs and property of the institution “and all things relating thereto”. In keeping with its fiduciary role, and of necessity, it delegates responsibility for institutional management and operations to the President and the administration, while retaining responsibility for approval of strategic plans and other major institutional commitments, whether of a policy or financial nature.
With these allocations of authority in mind, the Board will, as explained below, provide members of the public with a reasonable opportunity to express opinions on matters it considers during meetings as long as order is maintained.
- Preparation of Meeting Agendas
Under the University Bylaws, the President prepares the agenda for Board meetings in consultation with the Chair of the Board. The agendas of the Committees of the Board are set by the Committee Chairs in consultation with the Board Chair and with Vice Presidential liaisons to the respective Committees.
Agendas must be publicly noticed in advance of meetings, and finalization of agendas therefore must occur reasonably before the dates on which meetings are scheduled. The dates of Board and Committee meetings and Committee agendas are posted on the Board webpage (http://www.uvm.edu/~trustees) once established.
- Public Comment During Board or Committee Meetings
During open sessions of the Board or its Committees, members of the public will be given a reasonable opportunity to express opinions on matters under consideration by the body during the meeting, as long as order is maintained. Public comment shall be subject to reasonable rules established by the Board or Committee chairperson.
- Additional Opportunity for Public Comment at Full Board Meetings
In the discretion of the Board Chair, additional time not to exceed fifteen (15) minutes may be allocated at the beginning of each regularly scheduled Full Board meeting (customarily held Saturday morning) for brief oral presentations from members of the University community or the public who wish to express views on issues germane to the Board. Comment opportunities shall be administered as explained below.
(1) Requests to address the Board must be made in writing through the Board of Trustees Office no sooner than two weeks before and at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to a scheduled meeting of the Board (based on calendar days) by submitting the Public Comment Protocol Form to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Board of Trustees Office will issue a communication acknowledging receipt of requests and confirm logistical details for the public comment period.
(2) Speakers may submit to the Board of Trustees Office written information to be distributed to the Board. In such event, the speaker may submit the information electronically in advance of the meeting to email@example.com or bring an adequate number of copies to the meeting (a minimum of thirty copies).
(3) At the commencement of remarks, each speaker shall identify him or herself; any relevant title; the group or organization, if any, for which he or she serves as spokesperson; any personal or business interest in the subject matter as to which comment will be made; and the topic to be addressed. The Board Chair will recognize each speaker consecutively, maintain order, and require adherence to a three-minute maximum time limit allotted to each speaker. The Chair retains discretion to decline a request to comment if an individual, group, or organization has previously appeared before the Board regarding the same matter. If multiple individuals wish to speak on the same subject matter, a single individual should be identified to offer public comments on behalf of the group. Individuals signed up for public comment who are unable to attend on the day of the meeting may not send substitutes.
(4) No action shall or may be taken by the Board at public comment sessions. In his or her discretion, the Board Chair may refer a matter raised during public comment for subsequent response by the President, the President’s designee, or an appropriate Board Committee. The Board Chair may also request or permit comment by members of the administration.
(5) To ensure that the scheduled business of the Board is conducted in a timely manner pursuant to the published agenda, the time allotted to the comment session will not be enlarged by the Board Chair absent extenuating circumstances, to be determined in his/her sole discretion. Persons whose comments were not heard due to time constraints are encouraged to communicate in writing with Trustees, the President, or appropriate Vice Presidents. Communications may be submitted to the Board of Trustees Office for routing purposes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(6) Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in the suspension of privileges to address the Board at future meetings.
Approved by the Board of Trustees: September 9, 2006.
Amended by the Board Governance Committee: November 16, 2009
Approved as revised by the Board of Trustees: February 6, 2010
Amended by the Board Governance Committee: December 12, 2011
Approved as revised by the Executive Committee: January 9, 2012