University Governance

Opportunity for Involvement: The voice of SMSU students is heard from the Student Association governing body on up to the Minnesota State Board of Trustees. In fact, you are involved in the decision making process on most issues including such matters as review of registration procedures, selection of administrative officers, space allocation, and university-wide planning. So that you may understand how SMSU is governed and how you may get involved, a description of governance groups follows:

Minnesota State Board of Trustees: The board consists of 15 members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. At least one member of the board must be a resident of each congressional district. Three members must be students who are enrolled at least half time in a degree, diploma, or certificate program or have graduated from an institution governed by the board within one year of the date of appointment. The student members shall include: one member from a community college, one member from a state university, and one member from a technical college. The remaining members must be appointed to represent the state at large.

The general authority of the board is defined in Minnesota Statute 136F.06, which states that, “The board shall possess all powers necessary to govern the state colleges and universities and all related property. Those powers shall include, but are not limited to, those enumerated in this section. The board shall prescribe conditions of admission, set tuition and fees, approve programs of study and requirements for completion of programs, approve the awarding of appropriate certificates, diplomas, and degrees, enter into contracts and other agreements, and adopt suitable policies for the institutions it governs. To the extent practicable in protecting statewide interests, the board shall provide autonomy to the campuses while holding them accountable for their decisions. Sections 14.01 to 14.47 do not apply to policies and procedures of the board. The board shall have the authority needed to operate and govern the state colleges and universities unless otherwise directed or prohibited by law. The board is responsible for its operations and necessary decisions unless these are specifically delegated by law to a state department or agency. Specific duties and responsibilities of the board are defined in Minnesota State Policy 1A.1. (

The Chancellor: The chief executive officer of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (Minnesota State) shall be the chancellor, who shall have full executive responsibility for higher education leadership and effective management and operation of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, according to board policies and state and federal laws. All items to be brought for action to the board, except those initiating with the board itself, should come through, and bear the recommendation of the chancellor, who shall make clear the nature of the proposal (i.e., new policy or program, rescission, amendment, etc.). Specific duties and responsibilities of the chancellor are defined in Minnesota State Policy 1A.3. (

SMSU’s Organizational Structure: Any complex institution must have some form or structure that describes how it operates and how it is organized. An organization chart is available at: or through the President's Office, upon request. The chart is especially helpful in identifying academic and administrative offices and their reporting lines to the vice presidents and president.

President’s Governing Responsibilities: The university president, who shall report to the chancellor, is the chief executive officer of the university. The president will be held accountable for leading the university faculty, staff, and students in developing the university mission, consistent with board mission and goals, and shall lead the university in accomplishing that mission. Because of the magnitude of on going programs and daily operations, much responsibility for these matters is delegated to the university vice presidents and deans. Final authority and responsibility, however, rests with the president, the chancellor, and the Minnesota State Board of Trustees. The president meets frequently with students, faculty, and staff regarding matters of concern to the university community. In addition to informal meetings, meet and confer sessions are held with bargaining unit committees to discuss such topics as budget, planning, and other university issues.

President’s Cabinet: The cabinet is the primary advisory group to the president. Membership includes the President; Provost; Deans, Vice President for Finance and Administration; Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/ Dean of Students; Vice President for Advancement, Chief Information Officer, and Athletic Director. Weekly meetings of this group are designed to provide the communication necessary to administer the university community.

Student Association Senate: The duly elected Student Senate plays an important role in the governance of the university. Within parameters approved by the university, the Student Senate regulates its own affairs and provides significant leadership regarding the activities of other student organizations. One of the most influential aspects of Student Senate involvement is its authority to select students to represent the student body on the many university committees.

University Committees: The heart of the governance process is the system of committees that regularly provide input from all parts of the university community. You have the opportunity to serve as voting members on many of these committees through Student Senate nomination.

Meet and Confer: SMSU works with five employee bargaining units on its campus. Each of these bargaining units has opportunity to meet and confer with the university administration providing input and recommendations on a variety of issues of concern to the particular employee group. The bargaining units represented are: Inter Faculty Organization (IFO), Minnesota State University Association of Administrative and Service Faculty (MSUAASF), Middle Management Association (MMA), Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), and AFSCME Council 5. Meetings are scheduled within guidelines described in each of the union contracts.

Meet and Discuss: The SMSU Student Association meets and discusses university issues with the university administration on a regular schedule. Pursuant to Minnesota State Policy 2.3 and subsequent procedure 2.3.1, the University President and his/her administration will meet with the campus student association monthly to discuss issues of mutual concern brought forward by the Student Association or the Administration. Policy changes will be brought before the Student Association Senate by the Administration before the policy goes into effect. The Meet and Discuss process will be the official avenue of information distribution between the University Administration and the Student Association.

Note: While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, SMSU reserves the right to correct any clerical errors herein. Also, you can submit feedback.