Suffolk trustees approve new bylaws

Pedestrians stream past the stately facade of Suffolk University Law School on Tremont Street.
Pedestrians stream past the stately facade of Suffolk University Law School on Tremont Street.(Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)

Suffolk University trustees on Friday approved a new set of governing bylaws, fulfilling a key provision of an agreement the board struck in February to end weeks of discord with embattled president Margaret McKenna.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges in 2014 found that Suffolk’s bylaws were severely out of date, and recommended they be rewritten to outline clear lines of authority and best practices to govern the private university.

But trustees had failed to follow through on a promise to update them until Friday. The issue also emerged as a flashpoint in the board’s highly public dispute with McKenna over her leadership.


Under the new bylaws, trustees would be limited to serving two five-year terms, and must leave the board for at least one year before returning, according to a press release issued Friday night by Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, a public relations firm that represents trustees.

The new rules also formalize the role of the university’s provost and establish a new executive committee, and a committee on compensation, according to the release.

The Committee on Trustreeship will replace the Nominating Committee, which evaluates new board members.

A University Council will be created to increase alumni involvement and provide the university with expertise in such areas as real estate or finance, according to the release.

The new bylaws will also increase opportunity for faculty and student input on the board, the release said.

The bylaws were developed with the help of two experts, Richard Ingram, past president of the Association of Governing Boards and Colleges, and James P. Honan, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, according to the release.

In an interview, trustee chairman Andrew Meyer said the board has “come up with what we believe to be an excellent structure for Suffolk University to be a modern, outstanding, and positive force in the future.”


He would not reveal the vote tally but said support for the bylaws was “overwhelming.”

Trustees agreed to update the bylaws in February, at the same time Meyer agreed to step off the board when his term expires in May. In the same agreement, McKenna agreed to step down as president no later than the fall of 2017.

In February, State Attorney General Maura Healey’s office launched a probe into Suffolk for its lapsed bylaws and broader governance issues. Healey this week said that inquiry should be complete in coming weeks.

Laura Krantz can be reached at Laura.Krantz@globe.com . Follow her on Twitter @LauraKrantz.