The founding trustees of Dickinson College secured a charter from the legislature of Pennsylvania on Sept. 9, 1783, authorizing them to establish a college in the Borough of Carlisle for “the right education of the youth, who must succeed the aged in the important offices of society” and “to disseminate and promote the growth of useful knowledge.” As befits the first college or university established in the United States after the close of the Revolutionary War, the charter cites the conclusion of the “long and bloody contest with a great and powerful kingdom.” For the founder, Benjamin Rush, and John Dickinson, for whom the college was named, Dickinson was nothing less than a revolutionary project designed to create the educated citizenry required for the survival of the young republic.

Charged with this patriotic mission and anxious to establish the college in earnest, the trustees held three meetings in Philadelphia later that month. At the first meeting, John Dickinson was elected to the chair, and the board appointed its first committees—one on fundraising and one to acquire land and to plan for a building to house the college. At the second meeting, we find the trustees occupied principally with fundraising questions. And at the third meeting, the stature of the board—which included such luminaries of the revolutionary era as John Dickinson, Benjamin Rush and James Wilson—was matched by the auspiciousness of the location, which was the State House, known today as Independence Hall. From the beginning, therefore, the college has been governed by trustees who engage their work with energy and who appreciate the seriousness of their project.

Today, the board meets three times a year, typically in October, January and May—the latter meeting being designated as the annual meeting of the board. The board has sole fiduciary responsibility for the college, oversees matters of basic policy, elects and reviews the performance of the president of the college, and is empowered to appoint board committees and to elect board officers. Officers include the chair and vice chair of the board, who are chosen from among the trustees at large. Other officers are chosen from the administrative staff of the college. The college’s vice president for financial affairs typically serves as treasurer, and the president’s chief of staff is usually chosen as secretary. Other officers include an assistant secretary and an assistant treasurer.

The minimum (25) and maximum (50) size of the board is established by the bylaws. The president of the college is a voting member of the board and is included in the total membership. Ex officio voting members include the president of the Alumni Council and the immediate past president of the Alumni Council. Each spring a member of the graduating class is elected to serve a two-year term as the Young Alumni Trustee.

Although the board does not have a system of term limits, it is expected that trustees will provide eight years of active and engaged service, which does not necessarily preclude further service on the board or engagement with the college. Each trustee is reviewed on a four-year cycle through a process followed by the Committee on Trustees, and the committee can decline to nominate members for election to a subsequent term for poor performance—in attendance, participation, charitable giving to the college, and other signs of commitment to the college and to trusteeship. No member is eligible to serve after reaching age 75. Trustees, who have demonstrated exceptional and distinguished service to the college, may be elected to emeritus status generally after the completion of at least two full terms on the board.

The president of the college is charged with keeping the board apprised of significant issues confronting the college. The president meets this requirement through three written reports a year, a verbal report at each meeting of the board and through special communications throughout the year.

From its earliest meetings, the board has made extensive use of committees to govern the college. The chair of the board and the president of the college are ex officio members of all committees. Most committee meetings are open to all members of the board (with the exception of the Committee on Trustees, the Committee on Honorary Degrees and the Executive Committee.) Current standing committees include:

  • Executive Committee
  • Committee on College Advancement
  • Committee on Academic Affairs
  • Committee on Enrollment and Communications
  • Committee on Facilities
  • Committee on Finance, Budget and Audit
  • Committee on Honorary Degrees
  • Committee on Investments
  • Committee on Student Life
  • Committee on Trustees

Board Officers

Jennifer Ward Reynolds ’77
— Chair
Thomas L. Kalaris ’76
— Vice-Chair
Karen Neely Faryniak ’86
— Secretary
Ashley M. Perzyna
— Assistant Secretary
Brontè Burleigh-Jones
— Treasurer
Sean M. Witte
— Assistant Treasurer

2016-17 Trustees

Term Trustees

Neal B. Abraham ’72
Peter J. Anderson ’73  P ’13
Ethan L. Andrews ’16**
Michael A. Bloom ’69
Mark S. Burgess ’81
James D. Chambers ’78
Richard A. Chesley P ’13
Eric Denker ’75
Michael W. Donnelly ’02*
Steven Gallen Edersheim ’75
Ruth L. Ferguson ’92
George V. Hager Jr.  ’78
Carol Campbell Haislip ’79
Frank E. James III ’79
Julie I. Johnson ’82
John E. Jones III ’77
Thomas L. Kalaris ’76
Mark I. Lehman ’71
William L. Mueller ’73
Kayla J. Muirhead ’15**
Amy L. Nauiokas ’94
Kellie L. Newton ’81
Douglas J. Pauls ’80
Jennifer Ward Reynolds ’77
Michele Mahoney Richardson ’85
Tarun “Ty” Saini ’93*
Sylvia J. Smith ’73
Marjorie A. Speers ’78
Robert T. Symington ’86
Craig C. Weeks ’77

*Alumni Council Trustees
**Young Alumni Trustees

Emeritus Trustees

Wynne Stuart Amick ’62
Katharine E. Bachman ’75
Carolyn Wherly Cleveland ’60
John J. Curley ’60  
H. Chace Davis Jr. ’50
Sherwood D. Goldberg ’63
John C. Goodchild ’67
Louise Hauer Greenberg ’54
George C. Hering III ’53
R. Lee Holz ’57
Paulette Goerig Katzenbach ’68
Constance W. Klages ’56
John M. Kohlmeier ’56
David C. Meade ’62
I. David Paley ’61
John F. Peters ’52
Rosalyn K. Robinson ’68
Otto E. Roethenmund P’84
Samuel G. Rose ’58
Stuart M. Rosen ’62
Frank M. Sands ’60
Carol Jones Saunders ’62
C. Stewart W. Spahr ’69
Marc I. Stern ’65
Paul L. Strickler ’51