For the first time in at least four years, a member of Lehigh’s board of trustees attended a Student Senate meeting.
James R Maida, ’85, a trustee appointed in 2015 and the president of Gaming Laboratories International LLC, came to Senate’s final meeting of the semester on May 1 to answer questions and establish a better connection between the board and Senate members.
“(Board members) were very receptive to the idea,” Senate President Matt Rothberg, ’18, said. “In having a trustee member present, Student Senate got to see the leadership of a trustee and got to put a face to the board. In turn, the board got to see Student Senate members making Lehigh what it is — it’s a very symbiotic relationship.”
Zach Vinik, ’20, the parliamentarian and incoming president of Senate, said Senate tries to bring guest speakers to its meetings and plans on having many come throughout the next academic year.
“Our goal for next year is to bring speakers (to) three out of every four meetings in order to have a wide diverse set of speakers,” Vinik said.
Vinik said the meeting was an important opportunity to connect with the board of trustees. He said Senate members had a lot of questions about the petition to rescind President Donald Trump’s honorary degree and the Path to Prominence.
Evan Chansky, ’20, said the interaction between students and board members is important so they can understand the viewpoints and concerns of current Lehigh students.
“We’ve had a lot more interactions with the board lately,” Chansky said. “But it’s mostly been us going to them, so it was really cool that we were able to bring them to our space and it was us asking the questions this time, so it was a nice dynamic.”
While Maida addressed certain topics, such as the responsibilities of the board of trustees and Lehigh’s efforts to improve diversity, some Senate members thought the conversation lacked details.
“When it comes to diversity, I feel they don’t truly grasp the idea,” said Will Constant, ’21, an incoming Senate member.
Senate members emphasized the importance of building a relationship with the board of trustees.
Maida declined The Brown and White’s request for an interview.
Kathy Doan, ‘21, an incoming Senate member, thinks it would be valuable if students could communicate directly with trustees.
“These interactions are important because there is only so much students can do — a link to the board who has more influence would be useful towards getting things done,” Doan said.
Students can also give the board a more current perspective.
“Trustees don’t look in the short term, but the distant future,” Chansky said. “So I think it’s important for them to have student interactions because it grounds them more to what’s going on around campus.”