Nebraska’s State Colleges were established in 1867, when Nebraska became a state and Peru State College became Nebraska’s first public postsecondary institution. The Legislature provided for three more teacher education schools (normal schools) at Kearney in 1903, Wayne in 1910 and Chadron in 1911. In 1963, the Legislature officially designated these schools as Chadron State College, Peru State College and Wayne State College. Kearney State College became part of the University of Nebraska system on July 1, 1991.
The Board had its beginnings in an 1867 law. A 1909 act, later declared unconstitutional, created the Normal Board of Education. Through a 1921 constitutional amendment, normal school government was vested in a seven-member board called the Board of Education of State Normal Schools. Normal schools were renamed state schools by the 1936 Legislature. The board's name was changed to its current name in 1969. Later that year, the Legislature made the board a public corporation so it could issue bonds to build dormitories and other student service buildings.
The board has seven members, six of whom are appointed by the governor to six-year terms with legislative approval. The commissioner of education serves as an ex-officio member. The governor also appoints annually a non-voting student board member from each of the state colleges.
The Board of Trustees hold public meetings five to eight times a year.
Powers of the Board include but are not limited to the following:
- Approves salary and benefits for all system employees
- Reviews instructional courses and programs offered by the colleges, both on- and off-campus
- Establishes system-wide tuition and fees annually
- Inspects the physical properties of the state colleges to assure they are maintained in good repair and are accessible
- Approves degrees awarded by colleges