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An Academic Senate is a governing body in some universities and colleges in the English-speaking world and typically the supreme academic authority for the institution.


Main page: Ancient university governance in Scotland

In Scotlandmarker, the Senatus Academicus is the supreme academic body of an ancient university, given legal authority by the Universities Acts. The Senatus is responsible for authorising degree programmes, issuing degrees to graduands and honorary recipients, and for the discipline of students. Membership includes ex officio and elected members, and generally comprises:

Ex officio

At the University of Glasgowmarker, the Clerk of Senate (whose office is equivalent to that of a Vice-Principal) and Secretary of Court are also ex officio members of the Senate.

United States

In the United States of Americamarker the Academic Senate, also known as the Faculty Senate, is a governing body for a university made up of members of the faculty from various units within the university. In most cases administrative units such as human resources or other university support units do not have representatives as they are not scholastic units. Individual faculty or academic departments such as the Department of Biology or scholastic units such as the library select representatives for the Academic Senate.

The Academic Senate normally creates university academic policy that applies to the university. The policy created by the Academic Senate is restricted to and must be congruent with policy by the university system of which the university is a member institution, any acreditation bodies, state laws and regulations, federal laws and regulations, and changes derived from judicial decisions at the state and federal levels of the court systems. While a majority of universities and colleges have some form of an academic senate, the general perception is that the organization has more of a ceremonial role. However some researchers have found a negative correlation between centralization of university administration and the presence of an academic senate indicating that an academic senate acts as an organizational force for the decentralization of a university in the area of academics.

The Academic Senate meets periodically with a published agenda. Meetings normally use Robert's Rules of Order. The senate will have a set of committees, both standing committees and ad hoc or working committees, which are assigned particular areas of responsibility for policy formation.

The officers of the Academic Senate may include the President of the university and the Provost of the university. Other officers are Academic Senate members who are elected to officer posts by the members of the senate. Deans of colleges as well as department chair may be ex officio members of the Academic Senate.

Motions, recommendations, or actions that are generated by the Academic Senate through discussion and which are passed by the body will normally be referred to the President of the university for final approval.

Southeastern Louisiana Universitymarker provides a multi-page web site exemplifying how its Faculty Senate operates in practice.


  1. Southeastern Louisiana University Faculty Senate web pages.

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