The University System of New Hampshire recently submitted a legislative services request to allow for student trustees from each school of the university system.
Currently, student trustees from the schools are on a rotating basis, according to University System Student Board Rep. (USSBR) and junior Zachary Christie, who previously served as a trustee during the 2022-2023 academic year.
As of now, Plymouth State University and the University of New Hampshire have student trustees on the board. The trustee is able to be a voting member of the board and be present in meetings that enter a non-public session.
While USSBR members are able to attend the meeting, they are a non-voting party and are removed from the room during non-public sessions.
With approval from the board, the proposed legislation is sponsored by James Gray (R), New Hampshire state senator representing District 6 and member of the board.
If the legislation is approved by the governor after going through the House and the Senate, it would allow for each school to have a student who is able to vote at all times.
“I’m excited because it means that we’ll have more student voices on the board,” Christie said.
This is especially important in light of the recent executive order made by Sununu, Christie said.
The executive order, signed on Oct. 25, creates a task force that studies the “Strategic Alignment of Public Higher Education in New Hampshire,” according to the order.
Christie said the conversation started when Granite State College merged with UNH. This removed a trustee position from GSC, as there is no longer a student from GSC anymore.
Additionally, Christie said, this made the original legislation that outlined how the trustees work out of date.
He said he began the conversation with the governance committee last year during his time as a trustee. Now it has been approved by the board of trustees after some deliberation within the governance committee as to what the voting might look like for trustees.
“I saw it as an opportunity to increase student voice on the board to increase student representation and that rotating model really created an issue,” he said.
The issue he cited was how the trustees from the schools have two years on and two years off and how this creates inconsistency in student voice on the board and a lack of knowledge of how the board works and knowledge that can be passed down to the students.
For Christie, he said it took him three-quarters of the year to finally get an understanding of how the board actually operates. With that barrier out of the way, it would lead to more consistency and more knowledge that can be passed down to the next trustee and to the student body.
“I’ll be able to hand down the knowledge to whoever comes next,” he said. “I think the major areas that we can contribute is in stopping really negative things from happening and that was my important thing.”
He noted that he has confidence in the current board but does not know what the board might look like in the future.
“By having more students on board, we have more of a voice to stop those in their tracks.”
Tim Bruns can be contacted at