In adopting the Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960, the State Legislature established the Board of Trustees of The California State Colleges (designated "The California State University" on Jan. 1, 1982) to "succeed to the powers, duties and functions with respect to the management, administration and control of the state colleges." Prior to this, the State Board of Education had jurisdiction over the separate colleges.
The Donahoe Act also restructured the individual campuses into the nation's largest system of senior higher education. The Board of Trustees governs this diverse and complex 23-campus system by:
Under present law there are 25 Trustees (24 voting, one non-voting). Five Trustees are ex officio members: the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Chancellor. The CSU Statewide Alumni Council appoints an Alumni Trustee. The Governor appoints a Faculty Trustee from nominees proposed by the Statewide Academic Senate. The Alumni and Faculty Trustees serve for two years. The Governor appoints two student trustees from nominees proposed by the California State Student Association. These student trustees serve staggered two-year terms. One student trustee has full voting powers; the second, non-voting student trustee succeeds to the voting position upon the expiration of the term of the first. The sixteen remaining trustees are appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the State Senate, and serve eight year terms. Trustees confirmed by the senate remain on the board until a replacement is named or 60 days after their term expires whichever comes first (Government Code 1774). Alumni, Faculty, and Student Trustee terms expire at the end of their term (Education Code 66602).
The Governor is designated as the President of the Board, the General Counsel serves as Secretary, and the Chief Financial Officer as Treasurer. Other officers, including the board's chair and vice chair, are elected by board members for one-year terms.
Currently there are nine standing committees of the Board: Audit; Campus Planning, Buildings and Grounds; Collective Bargaining; Educational Policy; Finance; Governmental Relations; Institutional Advancement; Organization and Rules; and University and Faculty Personnel.
The Board of Trustees is responsible for the oversight of the California State University. The board adopts rules, regulations, and policies governing the California State University. The board has authority over curricular development, use of property, development of facilities, and fiscal and human resources management.
The 25-member CSU Board of Trustees meets six times per year. Board meetings allow for communication among the trustees, chancellor, campus presidents, executive committee members of the statewide Academic Senate, representatives of the California State Student Association, and officers of the statewide Alumni Council.
The Donahoe Act - which grew out of the recommendations of A Master Plan for Higher Education in California, 1960-1975 - became Division 16.5 of the California Education Code. Along with Division 18, it defines the composition, appointments, terms, powers, and functions of the Board of Trustees.
Section 89030 of the Code provides that "the Trustees shall adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent with the laws of this State for: a) the government of the trustees, b) the government of their appointees and employees, c) the government of the California State University." Section 66607 stipulates that "The California State University shall be entirely independent of all political and sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its trustees and in the administration of its affairs."