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Board of Trustees

Appendix E — Trustee Code of Conduct and Responsibilities


The following list of responsibilities defines an illustrative code of conduct for a Trustee, and it states the obligations and restrictions of trusteeship. This list assists new members in understanding their duties and encourages current Trustees to evaluate personal performance. Some of the responsibilities of trusteeship are as follows:

  • Accept primary responsibility for collective action to perpetuate the institution, and to see that its future is well-planned and that the plans are effectively executed in support of its mission
  • Preserve the land-grant mission of the University to serve the people of South Carolina
  • Regularly attend Board meetings and meetings of standing committees to which the Trustee is assigned
  • Be prepared in advance for all meetings, and to actively participate, voting one’s own convictions, cooperatively working with fellow Trustees, and supporting the majority decision, thereby assuring that the Board speaks with one voice
  • Give the University high priority, even when faced with time constraints, and to realistically acknowledge that a Trustee must sacrifice several weeks per year to promote University goals
  • Be willing to spend time throughout the year to attend University functions and social occasions, such as graduation, the Medallion Dinner, the Faculty and Staff Awards Banquet, Academic Convocation, Board of Visitors functions, Alumni events, and Athletic events. 
  • Take pride in making annual financial contributions to the institution, each according to personal circumstances
  • Support the President’s role as chief executive while being an active, energetic and probing Board member exercising critical judgment
  • Accept responsibility for the policy guidance of the University, aiding in approving goals and measuring attainment of such goals
  • Be knowledgeable of the Trustee Manual, the policies of the University, the laws of the State of South Carolina, and to be continually aware of the mission of the University
  • Maintain the role of the Board as a policy-making body, avoiding interference with personnel, management or administrative matters
  • Communicate promptly to the Chair or the President any significant concern or complaint while fostering openness and trust among Board members and the Administration
  • Recognize that the President is the primary spokesperson for the University, the Chair is the primary spokesperson for the Board, and that authority resides only with the Board as a whole and not in its individual members
  • Accept full fiscal responsibility when establishing policy so as to fund programs of greatest priority, and to set budgets that fully and properly use funds ensuring each dollar is well spent
  • Apprise (individually and collectively) the General Assembly, the appropriate state constitutional officers and agencies, and the people of South Carolina of the need for adequate support to enable the University to fulfill its primary role in higher education, and then to ensure that governmental authorities and the people of the state are made aware that the University is doing this with maximum return for each dollar expended
  • Make maximum effort to aid the University in obtaining outside funds for enrichment of its educational and research programs
  • Be fully aware of a Trustee’s personal fiduciary responsibility for safeguarding the assets for which he is a public trustee
  • Act always for the benefit of the University as a whole and never for the benefit of special interests
  • Aid in shielding the University from outside pressures that, if yielded to, would be damaging to its long-range future
  • Refrain from any form of action or involvement that might prove detrimental or embarrassing to the University, and to resign if such a situation should develop
  • Work continually for the advancement of higher education
  • Comply with the Last Will and Testament of Thomas Green Clemson in its entirety, and protect and defend it at all times

There shall be no salary or monetary compensation for members of the Board. The Trustees may, however, be reimbursed as provided by state law for per diem and for expenses incident to attending meetings of the Board or its committees and all other official duties incurring personal expense.


  • Define the mission of the University and approve programs necessary to achieve it. The Board of Trustees shall be responsible for approving the number and types of degrees; the number and nature of departments, divisions, schools or colleges through which the curriculum is administered; and the extent to which the institution should offer distance learning programs
  • Require effective internal communications between the Administration and the Board of Trustees
  • Appoint, monitor, advise, motivate, support, evaluate and, if necessary or advisable, replace the President
  • Approve major policies, long-range plans, educational programs and annual budgets, while clearly delegating the responsibility for administration of the University. The Board should encourage the Administration to consult with it before making decisions on highly sensitive matters whether they be administrative or policy.
  • Accept fiduciary responsibility for all University property and the long-term welfare of the University
  • Preserve institutional autonomy, recognizing that the preservation of autonomy requires accountability
  • Appreciate and enhance private investment in Clemson University’s programs
  • Enhance the public image of the University
  • Monitor and evaluate the institution’s success in achieving its goals and mission
  • Regularly evaluate the Board’s performance and take steps to improve it
  • Assure that the University remains an equal opportunity institution

July 2018

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