History of the NMU Academic Senate

The predecessor of the Academic Senate was the Faculty Council, which was created in 1947 by the Faculty Organization. A constitution committee was created in December 1962 by faculty vote. In May, 1963, the Faculty Organization of Northern Michigan University created a faculty senate, approved a new constitution for it and elected members to it. The senate consisted of nine members who “met regularly with the academic vice president, selected members for committees, and made proposals in areas of faculty concern such as curriculum, teaching load, library, faculty promotion and tenure, and student’s life.” The vice president for academic affairs was an ex-officio member without a vote.

In October 1969, under the administration of President John X. Jamrich, a new constitution for the senate was drafted. Thereafter, the Faculty Senate became known as the Academic Senate and was enlarged to 35 members.  

The original Faculty Council first existed in 1901 and consisted of the faculty meeting with Northern’s president. The council was a smaller version of the modern Academic Senate coupled with the President’s Council. In August 1904, President Kaye had the faculty create permanent committees: advanced standing, course of study, board and rooms, extension work, athletics, teachers bureau and commencement arrangements. It continued to operate until the faculty got too large. By the 1920’s, there were more than 20 faculty members meeting.

In 1947, Northern’s Faculty Organization, voted to form a modern Faculty Council and on April 9 the first regular meeting was held. The faculty created the council for the general welfare of Northern, to present faculty positions on institutional policy to the administration, and as an avenue of communication. It consisted of eight members - six elected by the faculty and two chosen by the president - who met regularly with the president and to appoint faculty members to committees.

The council was active from 1947 through 1963 when the Academic Senate was created by the Faculty Organization. Minutes of both Faculty Councils can be found in the University Archives.

Today, NMU’s Academic Senate consists of 39 senators who represent all academic schools and departments on campus as well as three student government representatives and NMU’s five deans. Along with the executive committee, it has 11 other committees that related to all aspects of the Northern academic experience. The vice president of Academic Affairs continues to serve as ex-officio members without voting power, as does the president of the AAUP faculty union.

Source: A Sense of Time: The Encyclopedia of Northern Michigan University.