The first Bylaws to contain a description of the University Senate and an outline of its powers and duties appeared in 1899. Since that time the importance and the influence of the Senate have grown steadily. The Bylaws approved by the Board of Trustees on May 27, 1968, were the first to provide for multiple faculty representation according to the size of each school’s faculty. (Those interested in complete details are referred to the relevant Bylaws of the University— Chapters VII and VIII.)
In summary, the University Senate is empowered to act upon “educational matters and regulations of the academic community that affect more than one school.” (See Bylaw 59(c).) Senate decisions in such matters are binding upon all faculties unless overruled by the Board of Trustees on an appeal lodged by a faculty. University-wide commissions report their findings and recommendations to the Senate. In addition, it is the deliberative body of the University for academic policies, structure, and procedures, including proposals for changes; it is concerned with the academic program and structure, personnel and budgetary policies, development of facilities, and community, professional, and educational relations of the University. It makes recommendations to the President, and, through the President, to the Board of Trustees concerning the policies and practices of the University. The Senate may also make recommendations for consideration by each of the faculties concerning their internal educational programs and policies. The Senate is authorized to define the educational terms used in catalogs, bulletins, and other announcements, upon which it may also make advisory recommendations; it is responsible for fixing the academic calendar and determining the length of terms and vacations, for arranging the Commencement exercises, and for establishing regulations on academic costume.
Bylaw 60 reads as follows: “The Senate will consist of the President and Chancellor, and not more than eighty-four voting members as follows: (a) not more than thirty-six members of the Faculty Senators Council, including one representative of the Division of the Libraries of the University; (b) not more than fifteen academic members of the Deans Council; (c) not more than twenty-three members of the Student Senators Council; (d) not more than five representatives of the Administrative Management Council; and (e) not more than five officers of the University, including the President and Chancellor, the Provost, The Executive Vice President, and Executive Vice President for Health, the Secretary and General Counsel, or such other officers of the University as may from time to time be designated by the President and Chancellor.”¹ The faculty members are elected—one or more per school or college—from the faculties of the constituent schools of the University listed in Bylaw 70, according to the number of full-time members in their professorial ranks. (For this and other purposes, the faculties of the School of Medicine and of the Post-Graduate Medical School are regarded as one medical faculty, the faculties of the College of Arts and Science and the Graduate School of Arts and Science are regarded as one faculty, and the faculties of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Undergraduate College and Graduate Division are regarded as one faculty.) Faculty Senators are divided into three classes with staggered three-year terms of office. The deans hold their seats ex 11 officio, as do five of the administrative members. The other administrative Senators are designated at the discretion of the President and Chancellor. One student Senator is elected annually from each school or college, except that two schools, which include both undergraduate and graduate divisions, elect one student Senator from each division. In addition, up to seven student Senators may be appointed at large by the Executive Committee of the Senate with the advice and consent of the regular student Senators.
Some understanding of how the Senate functions may be gained by considering its Councils and the structure and interests of its committee system. The faculty Senators constitute the Faculty Senators Council; the academic deans belong to the Deans Council; the students are organized as the Student Senators Council. All these groups meet regularly, apart from the full Senate, to discuss matters of concern to their respective areas of interest, and their reports and recommendations are regularly brought to the attention of the full body.
The standing committees of the Senate, all of which include members drawn from the three Councils as well as appropriate central administrative members of the Senate (including representatives of the Administrative Management Council), are the Academic Affairs Committee; the Executive Committee; the Committee on Organization and Governance; the Public Affairs Committee; the Faculty Affairs Committee; the Financial Affairs Committee; and the University Judicial Board. The Executive Committee, composed of the President and Chancellor and the chairpersons of the three Councils, is authorized to act on urgent matters that may arise at times when the full Senate cannot be convened. The Faculty Affairs Committee (formerly the Faculty Personnel Committee) is composed of all the members of the Faculty Senators Council, as required by Bylaw 64(a). In addition, the Senate has certain special committees.
The Senate generally meets monthly during the months of October, November, December,
February, March, April, and May in accordance with a schedule adopted by the Senate during the academic year and at other times, upon three days’ notice, at the special call of the President and Chancellor or by written request of five members.
¹ Bylaw 60, cited in the Faculty Handbook, is amended by the uncodified “Interim Amendment to the Amended and Restated Bylaws With Respect to Senate Representation For the University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering,” which was approved by the Board of Trustees on December 18, 2013 as recommended by the University Senate. The action, which amends the composition of the University Senate beginning on January 1, 2014 through August 31, 2014, in relevant part provides “that the composition of the University Senate will be increased by four members beginning on the date of the Merger through August 31, 2014 as follows: (a) the faculty member of NYU‐Poly who currently serves as an Observer on the Faculty Senators Council (“FSC”) will become an FSC representative in the University Senate; (b) the Dean of the School of Engineering will become a Deans Council representative in the University Senate; and (c) an undergraduate student and a graduate student in the School of Engineering, each selected as determined by the Student Senators Council (“SSC”), will become SSC representatives in the University Senate.”