The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (March 2019)
In Scotland, the senatus academicus is the supreme academic body of an ancient university, given legal authority by the Universities (Scotland) Acts. The senatus is responsible for authorising degree programmes, issuing degrees to graduands and honorary recipients, and for the discipline of students. Membership includes ex officio and elected members, and generally comprises:
- The Principal (President of the Senate)
- The secretary of court
- Deans of faculties
- Professors of the university
- Heads of academic departments
- Directors of academic services (e.g. library)
- Student members
In the United States of America the academic senate, also known as the faculty senate, is a governing body for a university made up of members of the faculty from various units within the university. In most cases administrative units such as human resources or other university support units do not have representatives as they are not scholastic units. Individual faculty or academic departments such as the Department of Biology or units such as the library may select representatives for the academic senate.
The academic senate normally creates university academic policy that applies to the university. The policy created by the academic senate is restricted to and must be congruent with policy by the university system of which the university is a member institution, any accreditation bodies, state laws and regulations, federal laws and regulations, and changes derived from judicial decisions at the state and federal levels of the court systems. While a majority of universities and colleges have some form of an academic senate, the general perception is that the organization has more of a ceremonial role. However some researchers have found a negative correlation between centralization of university administration and the presence of an academic senate indicating that an academic senate acts as an organizational force for the decentralization of a university in the area of academics.
The academic senate meets periodically with a published agenda. Meetings normally use Robert's Rules of Order. The senate will have a set of committees, both standing committees and ad hoc or working committees, which are assigned particular areas of responsibility for policy formation.
The officers of the academic senate may include the president of the university and the provost of the university. Other officers are academic senate members who are elected to officer posts by the members of the senate. Deans of colleges as well as department chairs may be ex officio members of the academic senate.
Motions, recommendations, or actions that are generated by the academic senate through discussion and which are passed by the body are never final and will normally be referred to the president of the university for final approval. Depending on the authorizing legislation or statutes and types of recommendations being made, boards of trustees, boards of regents or the equivalent may have to authorize senate recommendations.
Bicameral governance systems are common at publicly funded universities in Canada. and are required for accountability and the decision making process. In bicameral governance systems there are two governing bodies, the Senate and the Board of Governors. The Senate typically has oversight over the academic mission, strategy, educational policy and programming. The Board of Governors contributes to the overall strategic direction and oversees financial and operational decisions.
There are some parallels between university governance structures and other public sector models however university governance differs in four fundamental areas: publicly funded universities in Canada are created and governed by an act of legislation which establishes the governance structure; universities operate within a legislative and regional context; academic freedom; role of president who is appointed by the Board of Governors with consultation with Senate and the university community.
Universities and academies with senatesEdit
- University of East Anglia
- University of York
- Columbia University
- Stanford University
- University of South Carolina
- National University of Ireland (the university's governing body is styled the Senate under its 1908 charter)
- University of Cambridge (Senate House)
- University of Liverpool
- Birnbaum, R. (1989), "The latent organizational functions of the academic senate: why senates do not work but will not go away", The Journal of Higher Education, Ohio State University Press, 60 (4): 423–443, doi:10.2307/1982064, JSTOR 1982064
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- "COLUMBIA SENATE CONVENING TODAY; New 101-Member Body Will Decide University Policy". The New York Times. 1969-05-28. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-01.
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- "Mission and Governance of the NUI". National University of Ireland.; "Calendar 2004-2008" (PDF). National University of Ireland.
- "Senate - Governance - University of Liverpool". University of Liverpool. Retrieved 26 November 2020.