Guidelines for Standing Committees of the Academic Senate

Committee Meetings

Article 7 (Committees) of the Academic Senate Bylaws (revised April 2005) provides important information about Academic Senate Standing committees.

A quorum for the conduct of business shall be a majority of the committee’s voting membership.  A quorum is more likely when a regular day and time are established for meetings.  Meetings should be called only when committees actually have business to conduct.  The functions of the committee may require more frequent meetings at certain times of the academic year.  Business of the committee that is not completed during the current Senate lapses and must be reintroduced in the following academic year.

When possible, an agenda and the minutes of the previous meeting should be sent electronically to all committee members prior to the scheduled meeting date.

Article 7.6.3 states that “Standing committees of the Senate may remove committee members for cause.”  If committee members are not attending regular meetings, they may be replaced by following the procedures outlined in this Article.

Procedures for Submitting Reports and Recommendations

The Academic Senate Executive Committee reviews all committee reports before placing them on the formal agenda of a Senate meeting.  All committee reports should be submitted electronically to the Senate Executive Committee by noon on Wednesday, one week prior to the Executive Committee meeting, to ensure forwarding to members of the Executive Committee.  (See the attached schedule of meetings.)

When sending e-mail to the Executive Committee (EXSEN), please place the following phrase in the subject field of the e-mail:  EXSEN, followed by the acronym for your committee.  For example, the chair of AAPC should use EXSEN AAPC in all e-mail correspondence.

March 30, 2010, is the last date formal recommendations from committees can be reviewed by the Executive Committee.  This deadline ensures that major motions will receive the necessary first and second readings at separate Senate meetings.  (The last two meetings of the Senate are April 6, 2010, and April 13, 2010.)

Committee reports reviewed by the Executive Committee will ordinarily be forwarded to the full Senate at its next regular meeting.  A recommendation may be returned to a committee for additional information if the report is unclear or incomplete.  Submission to the Senate may be delayed in order to obtain additional information or input.

A representative of the standing committee should be present for the first and second readings of a report to the Senate.  Ordinarily, this will require two separate meetings.  At the first reading, Senators are allowed to ask questions about the recommendations (but not debate).  At the second reading, full debate of the motion is allowed, usually followed by a vote.  If no representative is available to answer questions of a reasonable and significant nature, the report may be postponed for further consideration for the next meeting at which a committee representative is present.

If a recommendation originated from a department or unit outside of the committee, it may be appropriate to have someone available from that department/unit as a resource person or as the main spokesperson for the proposal.  Names of resource persons who are not Senators should be given to the Senate chair prior to the meeting.

An end-of-year report of your committee’s activities is due by April 8, 2008, in order to be reviewed by the Senate at its last meeting of the year.

Services Available

The Senate Office is located in Cohodas 409, and the official Senate Web site is as follows: http://www.nmu.edu/academic_senate/

The Senate Office maintains files of past and current documents sent to the Executive Committee and the Senate. 

Content and Format of Reports and Recommendations

Committee reports are to include each of the following sections, as relevant.  Reports are frequently revised before they finally reach the Senate floor.

Left Header in Small Type

Committee acronym and actual date this version of the report is submitted to the Senate Executive Committee.

Formal Document Heading in Large Type

Complete formal name of the committee, the name of the committee chair, the subject of the report, and the date of the Senate meeting at which the report is to receive its first reading.  (This date facilitates identification and retrieval, especially when committees submit multiple reports on different topics, and when Senators must read through numerous reports to conduct business.)

Recommendations

  1. Each recommendation should be presented in a form that will allow it to be entered as a motion for the Senate’s consideration.
  2. Highlight and number the recommendations so that they can be quickly identified as one reads through the report.
  3. If there is more than one recommendation, or if a recommendation has several parts, number each section so it may be separated for debate, as necessary.
  4. As appropriate, a recommendation can be placed either before or after its rationale.

Rationale

There should be a rationale for each recommendation.  Routine and non-controversial recommendations may need only brief statements.  Recommendations involving significant changes may require longer statements and background information.  The basic principle should be to give the Senators enough information in the rationale so that they can understand the purpose of the recommendation, and be able to ask intelligent questions, without overwhelming them with excessive detail.

Costs

In most cases, a statement about approximate costs should be included (e.g., a recommendation may involve changing the frequency of course offerings in lieu of additional monetary support).  Although the appropriate Vice President and the President of the University make the decision about actual costs and cost/benefit, the inclusion of this information in committee reports will facilitate action at each level of consideration.  In the case of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, this usually involves the advice of the Educational Policy Committee.

Consultation with Other Units

Any department or unit of the University that may be affected by a recommendation should be consulted, preferably in writing prior to submitting your report.  Their written response should be mentioned in the document and, if appropriate, attached to the document for review.

Implementation Date

New and revised programs will go into effect in the fall of the next academic year.  This long lead time is necessary to coordinate all aspects of a program change.  If an earlier implementation is necessary, include rationale.

Information Items

Matters/Reports that are strictly for informational purposes (e.g., the annual report) should be clearly designated as such.  These should be kept separate from reports containing recommendations that require Senate action.

(Special thanks to Gloria Urban and Eugene Whitehouse for the initial content in this document; revisions by Roberta Varley, Pat Frenn, and Larry G. Pagel.)                                            (Revised 08-23-07)