The board of trustees is the governing body of Hampshire College. At present it has 23 members, including the student, staff, and faculty trustees, although it can have as many as 31 members. Sixty percent of the trustees are Hampshire alumni. The board meets at least four times a year, usually on campus.
The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, the national organization for higher education governance and leadership, describes the role of a board of trustees as follows:
Trustees of independent colleges and universities are surrogates of the general public. They are responsible for acting on behalf of their fellow citizens and institutional founders as their individual consciences and best judgment dictate.
A governing board's fundamental responsibility is to chart the institution's course and ensure that the institution has the resources it needs to fulfill its mission. The board also has a unique fiduciary role in finance and budgeting, in endowment and investment management, and in preserving and expanding physical resources. In addition, the board ordinarily is called on to participate in fundraising activities.
Specific responsibilities of a board of trustees include:
- Setting and clarifying the institution's mission and purpose
- Appointing the President, supporting the President, and evaluating the President's performance
- Assessing its own performance as a board
- Supporting the institution's engagement in sound strategic planning
- Reviewing the institution's educational and public service programs
- Participating in fundraising
- Ensuring good institutional management
- Preserving institutional independence
- Relating the campus to the outside community and the outside community to the campus
Hampshire College's bylaws further articulate these responsibilities:
The Board of Trustees shall have and may exercise all of the powers of members and all of the powers of the Corporation. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Board of Trustees shall have all the powers of directors, including general supervision and control over the property and affairs of the Corporation. The Board of Trustees shall: formulate and oversee the educational and fiscal policy of Hampshire College; elect or appoint all officers of the Corporation, including the President; appoint all other officers of instruction and administration and determine their duties and responsibilities, their tenure, their conditions of employment, and their remuneration; make and from time to time change rules and regulations to ensure the good government of Hampshire College, including procedures for enforcement and penalties for violation; fix all tuition and other fees and charges; and confer all honors and degrees.