The Signum University Board provides guidance, oversight, and direction.

Board Responsibilities

The Board provides three fundamental functions.


The Board offers advice to guide the future planning of the institution. The leadership team consults with the Board regularly on significant courses of action, and one Board meeting per year is dedicated to institutional strategy. In addition, the Board or its individual members may be consulted for advice by the University’s leadership.


Important decisions by the leadership team – such as major expenditures, changes to employment policy, or shifts in academic planning – are reviewed by the Board. The Board votes on whether to endorse the decisions brought before them to ensure that administrative leaders and faculty are following the strategic plan of the University.


The Board acts as a court of final appeal for the University community. This function provides a meaningful grievance procedure, which offers a way, in certain cases, for people to appeal decisions made throughout the University, up to and including the President. This function is especially important to protect academic freedom.

Board Meetings

The Board meets quarterly January, April, July, and October. At each meeting, there will be a topic brought up for annual review.

Quarterly Board Review Topics

JanuaryStaff review to assess the organizational structure, including any changes from the previous year, and recommend developments in the year to come.
AprilAcademic program review of the university and consideration of plans for future program development.
JulyBudget review for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on August 1.
OctoberAnnual vision and planning review to take stock of the progress the institution has made and recommend strategic initiatives for the Strategy Team to consider and implement over the course of the academic year.

Board Membership

The Board will consist of no fewer than nine members.


The President of the University will serve on the Board ex officio.

Elected Members (3)

Three members will be elected from within the Signum community as follows:

  • One faculty member
  • One member of administrative staff
  • One member of the student body

Elected seats on the Board will be chosen every year.

At-Large Members (5)

At least five individuals will be at-large members. At-large members will serve three-year terms, though Board members will be able to serve multiple terms.

The primary qualification for at-large Board membership is demonstrated commitment to and support of Signum University. At-large members will also often have some experience, expertise, or perspective that makes their service on the Board particularly valuable.

New at-large Board members are nominated by the President to the Board, which then votes on whether to ratify the President’s nomination. Upon ratification, the President will invite the prospective Board member to join.

Current Board Members

Dr. Corey Olsen – suit and tie

Corey Olsen

University President; Board Member Ex Officio; Lecturer

Corey Olsen is president of Signum University. He brings his scholarship on Tolkien to the public, seeking to engage a wide and diverse audience in serious intellectual and literary conversation though his podcast, The Tolkien Professor.

Andrew Higgins

At-Large Board Member; Lecturer

Dr, Andrew Higgins - Inaugural Student of The Mythgard Institute, board member and new lecturer.

Sørina Higgins

Preceptor; Board Member Faculty Representative

Sørina Higgins is the a Ph.D. candidate, Teacher of Record, and Presidential Scholar at Baylor University.

Liza H. Gold

At-Large Board Member

Liza H. Gold, MD is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She is an at-large member of the Signum University Board of Directors.

Edward T. Powell

At-Large Board Member; Curator of Computational Complexities; Chairman Council of the Wise

Ed owns his own defense technology consulting firm, and spends his free time listening to audio books and podcasts, and playing with his two European Burmese cats.

Matthew M. DeForrest

At-Large Board Member (Chair)

Dr. Matthew M. DeForrest is Professor of English and Mott University Professor at Johnson C. Smith University, and Chair of the Signum University Board.

James K. Tauber

James K. Tauber

At-Large Board Member, Alumnus

Board member, software developer, and computational philologist.

Elise Trudel Cedeño

Board Member Staff Representative, Vice Chair; Regional Moot Coordinator; Signum Path Corporate Liaison

Elise Trudel Cedeño is the Regional Moot Coordinator for Signum University and the Signum Path Corporate Liaison.

Keith Burrows

Keith Burrows

Board Member Student Representative

Keith Burrows is the Student-elected member of the Signum Board.

Peter Rybski

Peter Rybski

At-Large Board Member

Peter is an at-large board member and lifelong fan of Tolkien's works. He currently lives in Finland and is very diligently attempting to read the Kalevala in its original language.