The Office of the Board of Regents (OBR) followed three guiding principles in developing the Board's Virtual Forum:
- Effectively support the Board in building trust and demonstrating accountability.
- Recognize that public engagement practices evolve over time and require a ‘custom fit’ to meet the needs of today.
- Leverage technology to aid in advancing innovative access and inclusive engagement across the University community.
In alignment with these principles, OBR will implement the following three-part plan.
The first part of the plan is to maintain existing public engagement activities, including:
- Annual operating budget forum;
- Public forums required by law (traffic ordinances; body cameras, etc.);
- Individual requests to address the Board, as outlined in the Bylaws of the Board of Regents;
- Eight non-voting Student Representatives to the Board;
- Oral and written reports from Senate Consultative Committee/Faculty Consultative Committee each semester;
- Written reports from the Professional and Administrative Consultative Committee and Civil Service Consultative Committee annually; and
- Direct Regent emails available to public.
The second part of the plan is to enhance public engagement through a robust new web-based public comment portal. This portal will be a component of the Board’s website and will feature the ability for submission of written, audio, or video comments. Commenters will be able to sort their submissions using a set of evolving categories (e.g., Finance & Operations; Student Affairs; Safety, etc.). Comments will be aggregated by category and linked to the Receive & File item in each regular Board meeting so the public can access input submitted to the Board. The portal will supplement existing engagement activities, not supplant them.
This enhancement will:
- Create significantly improved, and much more visible, public comment feature;
- Leverage new technology to permit asynchronous comments to the Board anytime, anywhere;
- Remove place- and time-based barriers;
- Enhance transparency and engagement via the Board’s public docket; and
- Establish the Board as a leader in public engagement by embracing the hybrid nature of today’s work.
The preliminary public comment guidelines included in the docket were developed in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and will be provided to commenters in advance of access to the portal.
The third part of the plan is to promote and operate the public comment portal as a pilot across five regular Board meetings, after which OBR will gather input from each Regent, evaluate how well the portal is meeting Board objectives, and report findings to the committee. OBR is also exploring how to gather feedback from users across the five meetings, as well as from members of the public who decline to use it. Findings will be shared for discussion with the Board at a spring 2024 meeting, after which a decision can be made about the future of the public comment portal.
For more information about this pilot, please see the Governance & Policy Committee resources: