Fact Sheets

The Smithsonian Board of Regents

February 1, 2014

The legislation that created the Smithsonian Institution (approved by Congress Aug. 10, 1846) called for the creation of a Board of Regents to govern and administer the organization. This 17-member board, which meets at least four times a year, includes the Chief Justice of the United States and the Vice President of the United States, as ex officio members of the Board. The Chief Justice has traditionally been elected Chancellor of the Institution by the Board. The Board created the position of Chair of the Board of Regents in 2007 and the position of vice chair of the Board in 2008.

Other members of the Board of Regents are three members of the Senate, appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate; three members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House; and nine citizen members, nominated by the Board and approved by the Congress in a joint resolution signed by the President of the United States. Regents who are senators and representatives serve for the durations of their elected terms. Citizen Regents may serve two
six-year terms.

The chief executive officer of the Smithsonian is the Secretary, who is appointed by the Board of Regents. There have been 12 secretaries since the Smithsonian was established. The Secretary also serves as secretary to the Board of Regents but is not a voting member of that body.

Current Members of the Board of Regents

Ex Officio

  • John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States and chancellor of the Smithsonian
  • Joseph R. Biden Jr., vice president of the United States

Members appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate

  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
  • Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Members appointed by the Speaker of the House

  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)
  • Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas)

Members appointed by Joint Resolution of Congress (Citizen Regents)

  • Barbara Barrett (Arizona), owner of Triple Creek Guest Ranch in Montana, former U.S. ambassador to Finland
  • Steve Case (Virginia), chairman and CEO of Revolution; co-founder and chairman of the Case Foundation; co-founder and former chairman and CEO of AOL
  • France A. Córdova (New Mexico), president emerita of Purdue University and chancellor emerita of the University of California, Riverside
  • Shirley Ann Jackson (New York), vice chair of the Board of Regents and president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Robert P. Kogod (Washington, D.C.), president of Charles E. Smith Management LLC
  • John W. McCarter Jr. (Illinois), chair of the Board of Regents and former president and CEO of The Field Museum in Chicago
  • David M. Rubenstein (Maryland), co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group

Nominees to the Board of Regents

  • John Fahey (Washington, D.C.), chairman of the National Geographic Society
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D. (Pennsylvania), president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Members of the Executive Committee

  • John W. McCarter Jr., chair
  • Shirley Ann Jackson, vice chair
  • David Rubenstein

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Linda St.Thomas
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