Skip to content

The Ins and Outs of Senate Committees

Other articles in the September 2018 newsletter:


Committees are the core of the Academic Senate, as the majority of Senate work is accomplished through their efforts. This year, the Academic Senate received more self-nominations for service than in any previous year. Having a larger pool of faculty volunteers means the Senate is able to include more diverse voices from all across the University, which is essential to ensuring it truly represents the entire faculty body.

However, the committee selection process can appear convoluted, particularly for those who are volunteering for the first time. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers that may help in the process.


Q: Why are the committees important?

A: The majority of the Senate’s work is done in committees, which are able to look in-depth at specific problems over the course of the academic year. Most Senate resolutions, reports that are endorsed by the Senate, or recommendations that are given to administration are created by committees.

Q: What are the committees for?

A: Each committee has a different purpose and charge. Depending on these factors, some committees may work on their own or be advisory in University policies and procedures, and some may work directly with administration. Committees often work with other campus groups (e.g., Staff Assembly, student groups) if the topic being addressed is not only of concern to faculty and would benefit from collaboration. All committees are meant to ensure the faculty voice is represented in various issues that affect faculty and academic life at USC. For more information about types and purposes of various committees, see our website.


The Committee Process

Q: How do people get nominated for committees?

A: The majority of nominations are self-nominations, which come in based on a request for nominations sent out to all faculty at the end of each academic year. We also get nominations from people who contact us directly throughout the year (who are then candidates for the subsequent academic year’s committees), suggestions from previous chairs of task-specific committees (e.g., the Sustainability committee), and sometimes school Faculty Councils.

Q: What happens to these nominations once they are submitted?

A: Nominations are tracked throughout the year. The Executive Board (EB) of the Senate reads through every single nomination and statement, which means the descriptions that people write in their self-nominations are very important! The EB then reviews each nomination on its own as well as alongside others to ensure each committee represents a diversity of views and experience. Committees are then chosen or, when applicable, member suggestions are sent to the Provost’s office (for joint Provost/Senate and University committees). We consider many different factors when selecting committee members and chair(s) to ensure a wide balance of voices, opinions, and backgrounds, including (but not limited to):

  • School
  • Tenure/RTPC
  • Gender
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Other relevant perspectives that may be pertinent to the charge of the committee (e.g., online/geographically dispersed faculty, area of expertise)

Q: Why aren’t some people chosen for a committee?

A: There are usually more nominations for each committee than spots for members, and this is especially true for this year. The EB tries to rotate new members in, while also retaining some returning members for continuity. Diversity in the factors listed above also plays a role in who gets chosen for any particular committee, in an effort to ensure many different types of voices are involved. Anyone not chosen for a committee this year is highly encouraged to apply next year.

Q: What is the timeline for this whole process?

A: The call for self-nominations occurs in late April/early May. The selection process happens over the summer, and sometimes into the early Fall, with invitations to join committees going out as their membership is agreed upon.

Q: How are the charges for the committees created?

A: Each committee has a standing general charge. However, more specific charges for the year are created to provide the committees with more focus and direction. Committee chair(s) from the previous year will often suggest a charge for the next year, but charges can also be in response to issues brought to the EB’s attention at a school, university, or sometimes national level.


If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at We strongly encourage all faculty to self-nominate for committees to which they would like to contribute, as this is the only way the Senate can truly represent the diversity of faculty voices.

To discuss, please go to our Facebook post.

Thank you,

Ashley Uyeshiro Simon
Academic Senate Secretary General
Associate Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy
Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Ostrow School of Dentistry