Fact Sheets

The Smithsonian Board of Regents

October 1, 2016

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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; three members of the House of Representatives; 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 13 secretaries, including Dr. David J. Skorton, 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. John Boozman (R-Ark.)
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
  • Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)

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 M. 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; former chairman of AOL Time Warner
  • John Fahey (Washington, D.C.), lead director of the Time Inc. board of directors and former chairman, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society
  • 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
  • Risa J. Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D. (Pennsylvania), president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Michael M. Lynton (California), CEO of Sony Entertainment, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • John W. McCarter, Jr. (Illinois), chair of the Board of Regents and president emeritus and former president and CEO of The Field Museum in Chicago
  • David M. Rubenstein (Maryland), co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group

Members of the Executive Committee

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

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Linda St.Thomas
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