DE PERE, Wis.(WFRV)- The new and returning St. Norbert College Board of Trustees have been named ahead of the 2021-2022 Fall semester. Included in the 40 members is Father Jay Fostner. Fostner served as Vice President for mission and student affairs, before an “organizational update” by President Brian Bruess eliminated his role. Fostner had been with the college for a total of 21-years.
In 2019, it was announced that Fostner would take a sabbatical from St. Norbert, which lasted a year. He had been the focus of criticism surrounding the handling of reports of alleged sexual assault and misconduct connected to the campus.
Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring that the essence of the college – its mission – carries on into the future. It is also responsible for the fiscal health of the college. Per the bylaws, the Board delegates the overall superintendence, management, and operations of the college to the president. The board meets three times per year, usually on the St. Norbert College campus.
St. Norbert College declined WFRV’s request for an interview. Michael P. Counter, Director of Media Relations for SNC, did send over information regarding the board and what they do. Included in the information, the answer to a question about term limits. Since 2013, trustees have been appointed to four-year terms, with a maximum of three consecutive terms. However, according to the college’s bylaws, trustees may be elected to a term of less than four years. Trustees elected before 2002 are not subject to term limits.
Can members be removed from the board of trustees?
The college’s bylaws state that any member of the board, with the exception of Norbertines, may be removed from office by the board of trustees, for cause. Removal must be approved by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the board or, in some cases, by the abbot of St. Norbert Abbey.
How are committee assignments made for each trustee?
Committee assignments are made annually by the Chair of the Board of Trustees, which is currently Fr. Andrew Ciferini, O.Praem.
How are trustees appointed to the board?
The Governance Committee of the Board of Trustees oversees the process of recommending candidates for appointment to the Board of Trustees. Non-Norbertine members of the Board are voted on by the full Board of Trustees, typically at the May meeting. Norbertine appointments to the board follow the college’s bylaws, which state that up to 30% of the board should be Norbertines. The abbot of St. Norbert Abbey oversees the process for identifying and selecting Norbertine Trustees.
Does the board need to approve trustees appointed/elected by Norbertines?
No. That decision is made entirely by the abbot and the Norbertines.
Alexandra “Alexa” Paleka is an alumni of SNC and took part in protests calling for Fostner’s removal in 2019. “We had thought that a few years ago, when he left the Board, that would be a permanent situation, but it seems like it’s not,” said Paleka. The news of Fostner’s return was made in a post on a private Facebook group. “I was a student member of the board for most, if not all semesters while I was at St. Norbert and I think there are some considerations to be made about the make-up of the board,” said Paleka.
The Nobert Abbey’s official statement: “Father Jay Fostner, O. Praem., a member of the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey, was elected to serve on the Board of Trustees at St. Norbert
College for a term of 4 years. The election took place during the annual Chapter meeting of the Norbertines held June 7-8, 2021. Per the St. Norbert College By-Laws, the Board consists of between 5 and 45 members, including Norbertines. Between 20-30% shall be Norbertines. The Abbot of St. Norbert Abbey appoints three members and the remaining Norbertine Trustees are elected by the Norbertine community.” -Montie Chavez, Communications Manager.
Chavez also says that Fostner was never on the Board of Trustees before, he was a part of the administration. He also says that Fostner was elected to the board by the Norbertine Community and was not appointed by the Abbot.
The Board of Trustees was selected on June 7th and 8th. To view the full list of members click here. In May, SNC announced Mr. Joseph Webb accepted the offer to serve as the college’s next Vice President for student affairs.