UNIVERSITY SENATE
Report of the Committee on University Governance,
and Role, Composition and Function of the Senate
 
PROPOSED REVISION OF THE UNIVERSITY SENATE COMMITTEE STRUCTURE

Introduction:  The Committee on University Governance and Role, Composition & Function of the Senate was charged (S-9914) to review the overall committee structure of the Senate and recommend changes to improve the functioning of the committee structure. As the Senate is now structured, the committees play a crucial role. Charges and matters for consideration of the Senate ordinarily are first referred to a committee that brings a recommendation or resolution to the full Senate. The size and complexities of the Senate make the role of the committees, where discussions among smaller groups of Senators can take place, especially important. Despite the critical role of the committees, a number of problems currently affect the overall functioning of the committee structure. Charges are not evenly distributed among committees, with a few committees receiving the bulk of the charges (i.e., Student Affairs; Educational Policy). Several committees rarely meet, either because of the nature of the charge to the committee (i.e. the Appeals Committee) or some confusion about the scope of the committeeís responsibilities (i.e. Planning Committee). Committees which rarely meet present a particular problem for the Senate, as members assigned to those committees are unable to contribute fully to the Senate, leading to the impression that the Senate has few responsibilities. Committees have been slow to initiate action in the absence of any charge from the Executive Committee. The Governance Committee considered these specific problems as part of its deliberations. However, the Committee members did not think that dealing with the individual problems on a committee to committee basis would be the best approach to revitalizing the committee structure.

The Governance Committee members agreed that it would be most profitable to begin by examining the functions of the Senate as set forth in the University regulations and trying to match the committee structure to those functions. The University regulations that define the role and responsibilities of the Senate are found in Section 2.2.2. Duties and Powers of the Senate. Paragraph "A" of this section states that "The Senate shall concern itself with all academic matters pertaining to the University. Taking into account the diverse functions of the separate units of the University, it shall establish minimum standards respecting admission, scholarship and honors. The Senate shall also regulate formal relationships among academic units within the University, including the organization of the disciplines, recommend norms for teaching loads, and establish the University calendar. The Senate shall in addition have such other powers as the Board of Governors may delegate to it." This statement clearly outlines a special role in the academic functions of the University (admission, scholarship and honors), a specific role in establishing the calendar, and a more general role in regulating relationships and organization of units.

The next paragraph of the regulations outlines the broad role of the Senate in advising the President. Paragraph B. states that "The Senate shall advise the President on matters of broad educational and research policy, which matters include but are not limited to: (a) budget priorities and allocations and general planning, (b) the establishment or dissolution of colleges, schools, divisions, institutes, and similar educational units, (c) special affiliations and programs, (d) regulations affecting students and faculty, such as those concerning academic freedom, equal opportunities, and personnel practices and procedures, and (e) such changes in educational and research policy as are covered in the University Regulations and Procedures Manual. The Senate may also initiate action on these matters. " The Governance Committee thought that each of these items should be the clear charge of one or more committees. Since item "d" may have significantly different impacts on two of the major constituencies of the University, students and faculty, the Committee divided these responsibilities among parallel committees focusing on these two constituencies.

The University Regulations also provide for important appeal functions: first, for units within the University to appeal to the Senate when their rights of consultation are violated, and second for the Senate to appeal to the Board of Governors when its consultative rights are by-passed. The Committee thought that it was important for the committee structure to assign clear responsibility for these powers. Additionally, there are functions related to operations of the Senate that must be met by one or more committees. Finally, the Committee tried to separate committee functions into the structural and the academic and to concentrate these functions in different committees. The proposed new committee structure reduces the existing seventeen committees to eight committees and two panels. The panels address functions that occur only rarely (Appeals Panel) or are of very limited scope (Nominations Panel). In addition to the formal structural changes, the Committee thought that it was important to define some additional practices that will enable the proposed structure to function most efficiently. Finally, the Committee members wish to point out that the fact that an issue is important does not mean that the interests of the University community are best served by assigning it a separate committee, nor does the fact that some functions were combined mean that the Committee did not consider them important. This tendency to create a committee to deal with quite specific issues has resulted in a proliferation of committees. The proposed new committee structure, which takes into account these considerations, is described below.

Committee 1:  Budget and Finance

Standing Charge: This Committee shall concern itself with all matters related to budget priorities, allocations and general planning, as provided in section 2.2.2. B of the University regulations. These responsibilities shall include but are not limited to:

Rationale: This committee combines the functions of the Budget and Investment Advisory Committees. The charges related to budgetary matters come directly from the enabling regulations of the Senate. Following its own dictate of streamlining the number of committees, the Committee included the functions of the Investments Advisory Committee here. The functions of that committee are financial in nature, and it has rarely been given a specific charge. An investments advisory group could, at the discretion of the chair and committee members, be constituted as a subcommittee. The Senate handbook now includes the following notation concerning membership of the Investments Advisory Committee: "The membership of the committee usually conforms to the Board of Governors' 1973 recommendation, i.e., three faculty members, three student members, one alumnus(a), and the Senior Vice President and Treasurer of the University or his/her representative." The membership of the committee as a whole would presumably include the faculty, student and alumnus(a) representatives suggested by the Board; the Senior Vice President and Treasurer of the University and his/her representative should also be included in the Budget and Finance Committee ex officio, conforming with the Boardís recommendation.

The final bullet in the charges of this committee now includes matters related to physical plant, space and transportation. The Senate does not now have a committee charged with these matters, despite the fact that so many issues related to parking, safety, and deferred maintenance have been raised on the floor of the Senate, especially from student senators. The Committee members thought that the Senate should consider such matters. Since many of these issues are intimately tied to budgetary concerns, the charge was placed here rather than assigned to a separate committee. Again, the Committee did not wish to unnecessarily inflate the number of committees.

Committee 2:  University Structure and Governance

This Committee will study, report on, and make recommendations to the Senate on all matters pertaining to University governance, including both formal and functional relationships among units at Rutgers, relationships among student and faculty governing bodies, and the structure of the Senate itself. This Committee shall be responsible for initiating reviews of governance issues in accordance with these guidelines. The responsibilities of this Committee shall include but are not limited to:

Rationale:  This committee is intended to deal with structural issues, both within the Senate and in the broader University community. As noted above, many of these issues are set out in the University regulations in Section 2.2.2. This section also notes that the areas in which the Senate should take interest are not limited to these areas, and that the Senate has the authority to initiate action. The members of the Committee thought it was important to include here several items which are not named specifically, but we thought were particularly critical. These include suspension (as opposed to dissolution) of academic programs; suspension effectively removes a program and makes it inaccessible to students. Additionally, given the increasing number of formal relationships with other institutions, including commercial providers of internet courses, the Committee thought that it was important to add responsibility for review of such relationships to the charge of one of the standing committees.

This committee now includes the charges of the existing Planning Committee. Although the Planning Committee recently voted to meet jointly with the Educational Policy Committee, many of the charges originally assigned to this committee are in fact structural issues. The Governance Committee thought that these issues should be combined into a single committee that deals with governance issues across the university. The committee recognizes that many issues of structure also have impact on the educational mission of the University. It is the intention of our Committee that such cross-committee matters would either be jointly referred by the Executive Committee or coordinated by the chairs themselves through the Chairs Caucus.

Committee 3:  Student Affairs Committee

This Committee shall have primary responsibility for matters directly concerning students. These shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

Rationale:  This committee includes the responsibilities now assigned to the Student Affairs Committee, as well as the parts of the charge of the Athletic Affairs Committee. The Student Affairs Committee as originally constituted is one the Committee thought was assigned important responsibilities in advising on issues with the greatest impact on student life, and the Governance Committee thought that a single committee focused on these concerns could best deal with issues of deepest concern to our students. However, we also thought that this committee should assume some of the areas now assigned to other committees as they directly relate to students. These include possible areas of discrimination as it directly affects students; these responsibilities would be shared with the Equal Opportunity Committee. The charges to this committee now also include parts of the charges formerly given to Athletic Policy. In doing this, we wish to make clear that the members of the Governance Committee do think that athletics are an important part of student and university life, but that importance should not delegate that an issue actually be assigned to its own committee. This committee should consider the areas of athletics which most directly impact on student life.

Committee 4:  Faculty Affairs and Personnel

This Committee shall have primary responsibility for matters directly concerning faculty, with the exception of matters included under the collective bargaining agreement. These shall include, but will not be limited to, the following:

Rationale:  Matters relating predominantly to faculty members are currently scattered among several committees, including Academic Personnel, Academic Freedom and Responsibility, and Research and Research Administration. Some of these committees have not been very active. The success of the Student Affairs Committee suggested to our Committee that this was a model that should be applied to a parallel Faculty Affairs Committee. This committee therefore includes the former charges of the committees listed above, as well as issues related to equal opportunity and Rutgers relationships to the public as they are directly related to faculty matters.

Committee 5:  Instruction, Curricula and Advising

This Committee shall have primary responsibility for issues directly related to instructional matters, curricula and advising, including but not limited to:

[Rationale included with that of Committee 6, below.]

Committee 6:  Academic Standards, Regulations and Admissions

Rationale for Committees 5 and 6:  One of the problems in the current committee structure recognized by the Governance Committee was the number of charges directed to the Educational Policy Committee. Although it is not surprising that many educational issues arise at a University, the ability of this committee to function is compromised by the workload. These two committees are an attempt to divide the workload of educational issues. Division of educational issues into neat sets of charges is difficult, and the Committee discussed several different schemes for doing this. We recognize that this division may need to be revised as the new committees begin to function, but feel that this constitutes a viable starting point for easing the burden on this important committee. The Committee also included the in the charge of Committee 6 the responsibility for policies on academic issues related to student athletes and athletic programs. Again, the Committee thought that athletic issues were important, but that especially where educational matters were concerned, these issues should not be treated separately from the overall consideration of educational matters. Committee 5 also includes the responsibilities of the current Academic Calendar Committee. This decision was not related to the recent approval by the Senate of academic calendars through the year 2014, but rather to our strong feeling that the academic calendar is an educational issue, although we recognize that there are also practical and financial considerations. When this committee acts on calendar issues, we believe that the chair should invite the relevant non-senators to ensure the widest possible input, as is now done. In fact, setting the academic calendar was for many years a function of the Educational Policy Committee. The Committee thought that the separation of the calendar from an educational committee was also unfortunate in that it probably contributed to the belief that the only function of the Senate is to set the calendar. Although this is an important function, we feel that it should be put back into a more appropriate context.

Committee 7:  Equal Opportunity Committee

To advise administrative officers and others, through the Senate, on questions relating to actual, possible or alleged discrimination as it affects the students, faculty, and staff of Rutgers or Rutgers' responsibility to the public.

Rationale:  This committee was retained as presently defined. This committee has had an outstanding record of bringing before the Senate issues relating to equal treatment for all members of our community. Although the Committee thought that these responsibilities should be shared with the Student Affairs and Faculty Affairs Committee, many issues affect both students and faculty, and indeed all members of the University Community. Such broad issues would continue to be referred to this committee, and it should continue to bring to the attention of the Senate areas where possible discrimination occurs. Issues may also be referred to other committees, depending on their impact on the members of the University community or University policy.

Panel 1:  Appeals Panel

To hear appeals filed in accordance with University Regulation 2.2.2.C. concerning administrative decisions and to render decisions with respect to these appeals according to procedures adopted by the Senate.

The Appeals Panel will comprise an "on-call" panel of faculty, student and alumni senators representative of the disciplines and diverse opinions of the University Community appointed at the beginning of each year by the Executive Committee. This panel will meet only when an appeal is filed in accordance with Regulation 2.2.2 C of University Regulations. Members will therefore be appointed to this panel in addition to regular committee duties. In the event that an appeal is heard, members may be released from regular committee responsibilities for the duration of the appeal process. This panel will be convened and chaired by the Vice-Chair of the Senate as necessary.

Rationale:  The Appeals Panel will assume the responsibilities of the former Appeals Committee. The appeals defined by this section of the University regulations assign to the Senate the responsibility for acting as the final arbiter in matters where a unit believes that it has not been consulted in accordance with university regulations. The Committee recognizes that appeals made in accordance with this regulation will be rare, but that the authority of the Senate to hear such appeals provides an important safeguard for the University community. The rarity of bona fide appeals makes it inefficient for the Senate to assign its most distinguished members solely to this committee, thus removing them from other places they might effectively serve. However, the Committee also thought that it was important to have a panel of Senators selected in advance of any appeal, so that the choice of members could not be affected by the nature of the appeal. Senators would therefore be asked to serve on this Panel in addition to their regular committee responsibilities, with the understanding that they could request release from their regular committee responsibilities if a lengthy appeal was to be heard. This would ensure that the Senate had available a Panel of distinguished Senators to serve in this important function of the Senate, but would not compromise its ability to staff other committees with more regular responsibilities.

 Panel 2:  Nominations Panel

The Nominations Panel shall be appointed by the Executive Committee in March or April of each year, with the following responsibilities:

Rationale:  The functions of this Panel are important ones for the Senate, as this Panel will have a major role in the selection of officers and representatives of the Senate. However, although this function is a yearly and important one, the time commitment required of members is relatively compact, and members of the Nominating Panel have always held regular committee appointments. Although the Committee did discuss transferring the Nominating Panelís functions to the Executive Committee, Committee members thought that the Nominating Panel should have a broader membership to ensure the widest possible representation.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

To perform those duties defined in University Regulation 2.2.1.F., to coordinate the activities of the Senate and its committees, and to exercise such powers as the Senate may delegate to it.

The Executive Committee shall act on behalf of the Senate between meetings of the Senate, and report these actions to the Senate. (Note: On September 29, 1970, the Senate passed a motion authorizing the Executive Committee to act on its behalf between meetings of the Senate as provided in University Regulations 2.2.1.F. and 2.2.3.F., and requiring the Executive Committee to report these actions to the Senate.) Although the Executive Committee is empowered to act for the Senate in exceptional circumstances, it shall minimize responding to emergency situations that require its independent, precipitous action, and shall strengthen and publicize its planning, referral, evaluation, and liaison functions, as follows:

a.  Planning Function of the Executive Committee

b.  Referral Function of the Executive Committee c.  Evaluation Function of the Executive Committee d.  Liaison Function of the Executive Committee Rationale:  Some of the changes made to other committees necessitate changes to the wording of the Executive Committee Responsibilities. The text describing responsibilities of the Executive Committee is included above, modified to include the functions of the "Committee on Committees" under Planning Function of the Executive Committee. The final bullet item is added to clarify some of the apparent confusion over the appeals functions of the Senate. The Appeals Panel hears appeals filed under section 2.2.2 C. Section 2.2.2 B (2), which immediately precedes it, defines the right of the Senate to appeal an action of the President to the Educational Planning and Policy Committee of the Board of Governors; however, this section does not assign the responsibility for this decision within the Senate. The Governance Committee members thought that responsibility for initiating such an appeal should clearly be assigned to the Executive Committee.
 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING COMMITTEE COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE:

Recommendation 1:  All committees shall include student, faculty and administrative members, including Student Affairs and Faculty Affairs.

Rationale:  Although these committees were intended to consider matters of most concern to students and faculty, respectively, the Committee members think that it is important to have the perspective of all members of the University community on each committee. In so far as it is possible, committees should also include alumni representatives, although the number of alumni representatives would make assignment of an alumni representative to each committee impractical.

Recommendation 2:  All Senators will normally serve on one committee, with the exception of Senators who also serve on the Executive Committee.

Rationale:  Many Senators now serve on more than one committee; the reduced number of committees should make this unnecessary. At the same time, each Senator should serve the Senate through its committee structure, and committee attendances should be reported as well as attendance at regular meetings.

Recommendation 3:  The Executive Committee should make greater use of its authority to appoint ad hoc committees. Such committees are particularly appropriate for matters which cross committee charges or are of broad scope.

Rationale:  The Committee members thought that greater use of as hoc committees could eliminate the tendency to create new committees around new issues. This leads to a proliferation of committees that should be avoided, especially as these committees may be left with little to do.

Recommendation 4:  The Chairís Caucus should be formalized, and should function to coordinate appropriate matters among and between committees where charges cross committee boundaries.

Rationale:  Many issues are complex and difficult to assign to a single committee. For example, many considerations that come before the Senate have financial implications that should also be considered by the Budget Committee. The Chairís Caucus and the Executive Committee should share responsibility for ensuring that all aspects of an issue are considered by the relevant committee, so that the greatest input and expertise can inform decisions.

 
Respectfully Submitted,

Kathleen Scott, Co-Chair
Jeffrey Cohen, Co-Chair

Major Contributing Members:
Joseph Blasi
John Bronzan
Michael Cheung
Kyle Haidet
Paul Leath
James Miller
Gerald Pomper
Ann Watts
David Spenser
Arlene Walker-Andrews


Table 1: Summary of proposed committee changes
 
Existing Committee New Committee Comments
Executive Committee Executive Committee  
Committee on Committees
Academic Freedom and Responsibility  

 

Faculty Affairs

 
Academic Personnel
Research and Research Administration
Budget Committee Budget and Finance This committee also has responsibility for issues relating to space, physical plant and transportation.
Investments Advisory Committee
Equal Opportunity Committee Equal Opportunity Committee  
Committee on Governance and Role, Composition and Function of the Senate  

University Structure and Governance

 
Planning Committee
Rutgers University and the Public (in part)
Calendar Committee Instruction, Curricula and Advising  
Educational Policy
Academic Standards, Regulations and Admissions
Athletic Policy (in part)
Athletic Policy (in part) Student Affairs  
Student Affairs
Appeals Committee Appeals Panel  
Nominating Committee Nominating Panel