Oxford University as a corporation grants membership to the matriculated students who are currently pursuing a degree. However, in the US there seems to be a tendency for University legal business to be handled by a corporation of University Trustees which is a legal entity separate from the University as such.

Sometimes the Trustees are said by statute to be "included" in the "body corporate" of a University, which seems to make two different bodies corporate, one being the Trustees acting in their special name, and the second being the University. However, it isn't made clear who else might be included in the University besides Trustees or for that matter whether the term "University" can also refer to the buildings or district under jurisdiction of the Trustees.

I would be interested to know if there is any State University which makes its students or faculty members of the University. Please cite the relevant laws.

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    For what it's worth, I don't believe I've ever heard the word "member" used in conjunction with any US college or university, nor is it clear to me what the significance of being a "member" of a university would be. The closest I've heard is "member of the university community", which is roughly shorthand for "any student, faculty member, employee, or other affiliate", but I've never heard it in a legal context. What's your motivation in asking this question? Mar 13, 2014 at 16:24
  • Presumably this is related to academia.stackexchange.com/questions/18046/…
    – ff524
    Mar 13, 2014 at 16:42
  • @NateEldredge: It is good to know who ultimately has the beneficial interest in University property. With a State University we possibly have the students (or whoever the members are) being construed as a subdivision of the state, which is to say the students are appearing under the public side of the state constitution and having Due Process obligations as opposed to acting in a private capacity and having Due Process rights. In other words, it is possible that even if students appear as holders in the property holding chain that they are merely agents and trustees of the State. Mar 16, 2014 at 23:38
  • With Local School Districts we have just such a case where the constituents are viewed to be in a form which is a creature of statute (albeit with some constitutional protections) and which has the constituents acting as agents and Trustees of the State. However, if they have enough autonomy, they don't inherit the State's 11th Amendment Immunity. Mar 16, 2014 at 23:41
  • I am not a lawyer, but none of this sounds remotely like anything I've ever heard about, and I've been affiliated with public universities in two states (maybe three depending on definitions). It sounds like the level of technicalities you are interested in might be better addressed by a lawyer than a working academic. Mar 17, 2014 at 3:15

1 Answer 1


No, there's nothing like Oxford's or Cambridge's legal structure in the United States, where students and faculty are members of the University.

For historical interest, the first university -- University of Bologna - 1088 -- was a universitas scholarium, i.e. a "university of scholars (students)". It was a collective that had bargaining rights with the city and hired and paid their professors -- paying them after each lecture. (!)

  • The OP is asking "Do students and faculty comprise any State University in the US ?". University of Bologna is in Italy. Are you answering the question?
    – Nobody
    Jun 18, 2014 at 3:57
  • Yes, I answered the question in the first sentence. The second paragraph was just an interesting aside to contrast with both the US model (only tenured faculty are members, not students) and the Oxford/Cambridge model. At Bologna, only students were members. Jun 18, 2014 at 4:01
  • Are you absolutely sure No, there's nothing like Oxford's or Cambridge's legal structure in the United States ? Citation needed.
    – Nobody
    Jun 18, 2014 at 4:10
  • "Absolutely sure"? No I'm not absolutely sure. There might be a small private college some where, perhaps even non-accredited, that has such a collective structure in the mold of Oxford or Cambridge. But I'll bet no large university has such a structure. I got my information from a long conversation with a Cambridge Don explained the model and also said it was unlike any US university. Jun 18, 2014 at 4:21

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