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Committee Guidelines – The Basics

Academic Senate Committees: The Basics

The Academic Senate Guidelines detailed below were created in the Summer 2017 to answer some basic questions regarding committees. For specific committee questions, contact the Committee Chair(s).  For general committee questions, contact the Administrative Vice President of the Academic Senate.


Committees: What They Are & What They Do

The Academic Senate is involved in overseeing and staffing four basic types of committees. First, there are a number of standing Senate committees. The standing committees focus on areas of continuing concern, including but not limited to, faculty rights and affairs, campus climate, and sustainability. Second, the Senate coordinates with the Provost’s office overseeing and staffing a number of joint Provost/Senate Committees. Third, the Senate makes recommendations to the Provost regarding who should serve on various University committees. Finally, most years, the Senate also sponsors one or more task forces, which are set up to address unusual or urgent issues. The committees are listed in more detail on the Senate’s website.

All of the Senate Committees are given a charge. Each committee’s charge defines its general role and duties. The charges may be modified certain years to address specific short-term issues. The charges are listed on each committee’s website.  

Committee Membership:  Self-Nominations & Duties

Every spring the Provost’s office sends an email to faculty, asking them to self-nominate to serve on one or more committees. Although the Senate often has more self-nominations than committee spots, every effort is made to place faculty on their chosen committees, so please self-nominate every year for committees that interest you.

The duties of committee members include attending committee meetings (which typically occur monthly), reviewing relevant background materials for the meetings, making recommendations regarding pending issues, assisting the chairs in drafting committee reports and white papers, and volunteering for whatever else needs to be done.

Committee Chairs:  Selection & Duties

Committee chairs are chosen by the Senate and/or the Provost’s office. To ensure that they understand the operations of their respective committees, chairs of the standing committees are usually selected from among the committee’s past members. Many of the standing committees also use a “co-chair” model, meaning that each year there is a chair and a co-chair, who is the chair elect. This model has been adopted by many of the standing committees for continuity of leadership.

The duties of the committee chairs include planning the committee agenda, running its meetings, delegating assignments to members, communicating with the Senate’s Executive Board about the committee’s activities, reviewing materials for the meetings, and drafting committee reports.  

Committee Reports:  Mandatory & Optional

Each committee is expected to produce an annual final report.  It should summarize: (1) the committee’s annual charge; (2) the work the committee completed that year; (3) any ongoing tasks the committee is pursuing; (4) recommendations of future tasks for the next year’s committee; and (5) membership of the committee.

Committees may also be asked to, or may choose to, produce other reports, white papers, strategic plans, policies, or other documents addressing issues of particular concern.