State Amends Albion College Charter

Amendments to Albion College's charter are signed into law, November 2011.Standing with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (seated), from left: Paul Tobias, chair of Albion College's Board of Trustees; Albion College President Donna Randall; Edward Blews, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan; Representative Earl Poleski; Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville; Representative Marty Knollenberg; Representative Phil Potvin.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law last month a bill passed by the state legislature that amends Albion College's nearly 155-year-old charter to make it more closely resemble the charters of Michigan colleges established after Albion.

One amendment gives the College flexibility to have up to 33 Trustees on its board, instead of exactly 33 previously, while another repeals a provision in which the board holds formal quorum procedures in the “election” of the College's president. The board will still select and appoint the president, but the basis for it will lie in the board's governing by-laws, matching the process of other colleges.

Under the amendments, not more than six trustees would be appointed by the United Methodist Church, not more than two would be recent graduates, not more than six would be appointed by the alumni and not more than 20 would be elected by the board generally.

"While from a legislative perspective this will be considered rather straightforward and noncontroversial legislation, from Albion College's perspective these are important and very helpful amendments to our chartering statute," said President Donna Randall earlier this year in testimony before the Senate Education Committee.

Another amendment provides the College's Board of Trustees proper protection and indemnification from liability and lawsuits when they are properly and diligently performing their responsibilities as trustees, in accordance with the provisions available to nonprofit corporations under the Michigan Nonprofit Corporations Act.

"This simply permits for Albion College what other colleges and other nonprofit corporations have been able to claim," said Randall before the committee.

Michigan colleges and universities established after Albion were chartered through the state Board of Education, and their Articles of Incorporation are filed through the State Corporations Division. However, Albion's educational charter and what constitutes its Articles of Incorporation are contained in Public Act No. 72 of 1857, which builds on several earlier acts dating back to the College's founding in 1835, two years before Michigan statehood. It's a "historical and statutory status which we highly value," Randall said, but as a result requires legislative action to amend.

The bill passed unanimously in both the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives before reaching the governor's desk. Albion’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the governance changes before sending them on to the state legislature for action.