The University Senate


What does the University Senate do?

The purpose of the Senate is to create and maintain adequate communication channels among students, staff, faculty, administrative officers, and the Board of Trustees for discussion and consultation on all matters affecting the welfare of the University. At least one general meeting of the Senate is held during the academic year to discuss matters of central concern to the University community and the work of the Senate bodies. No other University forum exists for implementing similar goals.

Who are members of the Senate?

The membership of the Senate consists of: 1) all persons who hold full-time academic appointments in the University of Pittsburgh with the titles of lecturer, senior lecturer, instructor, assistant professor, associate professor or professor; 2) all part-time tenured faculty; 3) all persons who hold full-time appointments at the University of Pittsburgh as faculty librarians; 4) student and staff members of Senate Council and of Senate Standing Committees; 5) the Chancellor of the University; 6) eight other administrators who are members of Senate Council; 7) four additional administrators designated by the Chancellor; 8) the Deans; 9) those part-time untenured faculty who annually indicate to the Office of the University Senate their desire for membership and who, during each of the two academic years previous to the desired year of membership, have taught a minimum of 6 credits per year for remuneration; and (10) those emeriti and retired faculty and librarians who were Senate members at the time of their retirement and who indicate to the Office of the University Senate their desire to remain members.

How does the Senate work?

Senate recommendations are usually expressed through two deliberative bodies, the Faculty Assembly and the Senate Council.
Faculty Assembly is a forum of elected representatives from across the University’s several schools, divisions and campuses, and also includes Chairs of the Senate’s Standing Committees. Discussion of any matters of faculty concern can lead to expression of a faculty position. Faculty Assembly is the principal avenue for broad faculty participation in University governance.
Senate Council is composed of two-thirds of the members elected to Faculty Assembly, the Chancellor, administrative appointees designated by the Chancellor, three staff members, and students representing various graduate and undergraduate constituencies within the University. The Council is the principal mechanism for the faculty, the administration, the staff, and the student body to discuss and seek consensus on policies and practices of University-wide concern.
Both the Faculty Assembly and Senate Council meet at regularly stated times that are published in the University’s Academic Calendar. Meetings of both are open to members of the University community as observers without a vote.

Who are the officers of the Senate?

The Senate has three elected officers: President, Vice President, and Secretary. Each officer’s term is one-year. An officer can serve no more than three consecutive terms. These officers, together with the most immediate past-President of the Senate not holding an Executive Committee office by direct election and the Director of the Senate Office, both of whom are non-voting members, form the Executive Committee and are responsible for supervising the affairs of the Senate, including the setting of meeting times and agenda.

What are the main concerns of the Senate?

Recommendations from Senate bodies are made to the Chancellor or other appropriate University officers on policy matters including (but not limited to): education; tenure; academic freedom; student affairs; physical plant (including expansions); substantive and procedural budgetary matters; health and welfare of the faculty, students, and staff; athletics; admissions; nondiscrimination; creation, termination, or merger of schools or major academic divisions; creation or termination of major administrative units; the University-wide mission and plan; and other matters of University-wide concern.
It is the responsibility of the administrative officers to consult with and seek the advice of the Senate on major changes that affect the faculty in these policy areas.

When are Senate elections held and how frequently?

Elections are held annually in the Spring term, after polling faculty members regarding their interest in running for office, Assembly, or Standing Committee membership.
Elective processes provide a three-year term for membership in the Faculty Assembly. The second and third years of the term include membership on the Senate Council.
Members of Faculty Assembly elect faculty to serve on Standing Committees. Standing Committees may also include as pro tem non-voting members any persons from the University community for the purpose of providing expertise, balance, or different positions or concerns.

What are the Standing and Special Committees of the Senate?

Standing Committees of the Senate are: Admissions and Student Aid, Anti-discriminatory Policies, Athletics, Benefits and Welfare, Budget Policies, Bylaws and Procedures, Commonwealth Relations, Community Relations, Computer Usage, Educational Policies, Library, Plant Utilization and Planning, Student Affairs, Tenure and Academic Freedom, and University Press.
Special committees may be formed by the Senate Executive Committee, Senate Council and the Faculty Assembly as each body deems appropriate.

Where can I get further information?

The Office of the University Senate, 362 Cathedral of Learning, assists in coordinating the activities of the officers, the committees of the Senate, and its deliberative bodies. Further information on the organization of the Senate is available from the Senate Office at 412-624-6505.