This paper examines the structure of university boards of trustees and the role of trustees in university governance. The analysis focuses on how trustees are selected at private universities, the role of trustees in representing stakeholder interests, and how these choices are related to institutional mission. A unique data set on board composition in 1968 and 2005 provides the opportunity to examine the empirical relationships between university characteristics, board structure, and performance. The results suggest that larger boards are not related to poorer performance and that having more trustees selected by the alumni may lead to better performance. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.