I am wondering if it's common for universities to have multiple boards, each with a specific mandate to manage and carry out initiatives in a specific field, such as General Planning, Education, Finance, Global Initiatives, etc. I am particularly interested in universities in the US and the UK.

These boards would be hierarchically under the main governing board of the university and would be staffed with professors and led by trustees from the board. They would be at the administrative level.

Would it be more common to name these boards committees or subcommittees?

3 Answers 3


I know that you ask preferably for the US and UK, but as a side note, this model is standard for universities in Switzerland (and presumably other German-speaking countries). These are typically called Kommissionen (which translate to commissions or I think more appropriately committees). Contradictory to your example, these committees are not exclusively staffed with professors. They are composed of a president and representatives of all levels of the university employees and students: faculty, "intermediaries" (postdocs, lecturers), admin/technical staff, and students.

Here is the list of the different committees from the University of Zurich. It includes the research committee, the ethics committee, the disciplinary committee, etc. The other universities of the country are organized in a very similar manner.


Yes, they are generally known as committees and they are common. PhDs don't generally like to be led (or perhaps there's just no one that seems qualified), so they form committees to get consensus and allow participation.


The University of Cambridge, under chapter VI of its Statute A, uses the words "Board", "Syndicate", and "Committee". The chapter doesn't give much clarity about the distinction between the three. However, it does strongly hint that a body whose purpose is to manage a ring-fenced endowment or to elect to a named professorship is expected to be called "Board" (and perhaps that, at some point in history, someone has tried to circumvent the age limit on membership of such bodies by calling some of them something other than "Board").

I suspect the only way we're going to find out what's "more common" is by counting up anecdotes like this from individual universities.

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