If you think every Purdue University trustee is someone with gray hair, you are slightly off base. The youngest trustee should be decades away from gray hair. Yet Cameron Mann has a full voice on the Purdue University board of trustees.
The Cloverdale farm girl who led Indiana FFA as state president in 2012-13 is in her second and final year as a Purdue trustee. Recently, she granted an exclusive interview to Indiana Prairie Farmer. Here is Part 1 of that interview.
IPF: What is the purpose of a student trustee?
Mann: The purpose of a student trustee is for the board of trustees to have a voice that represents the students. The student trustee can bring the student perspective to the board, and ensure that when decisions are made, the student perspective is taken into consideration.
IPF: Are you there to learn, or are you a full-fledged trustee?
Mann: I am a full-fledged member of the board, including possessing voting rights. The student trustee [position] at Purdue is treated like all other trustees. I’m expected to participate on committees, attend all meetings, attend events to represent Purdue and vote on all matters that need board approval.
IPF: What are some decisions that trustees must make?
Mann: The Purdue board of trustees is in charge of long-term planning and strategic direction of Purdue. We are the overseeing body of the university. Some examples of decisions we make are promotion and tenure decisions for faculty, hiring of administrators, budget and tuition decisions, and approving physical facilities.
The board is set up in committees that include the executive committee, physical facilities, academic affairs, compensation, audit and insurance, and finance. Our decisions typically fall in these "buckets."
IPF: What is the time frame on when you serve as a trustee?
Mann: The student trustee serves a two-year term. My term started on July 1, 2015, and ends on June 30, 2017. (Mann was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence after an exhaustive interview process.)
IPF: What have you learned as a Purdue trustee that you might not have learned otherwise in your college experience?
Mann: I’ve learned so many valuable lessons during my time on the Purdue board of trustees. I think one of the most important lessons I have learned during my time so far on the board is that even as a young person, my voice is valued. The board has taught me to lean in, speak up and lead with a strategic vision in mind.
I think these skills are hard to teach in the classroom. The board provided the perfect setting for me to learn these lessons. I will carry them with me throughout my life.