Why was UMD’s Faculty Senate (FS) established?

The Faculty Senate (FS) was first established in 2013 as Faculty Council and then re-instituted and renamed Faculty Senate in 2016. The goal of Faculty Senate is to represent faculty in shared governance. "Shared governance is ... a delicate balance between faculty and staff participation in planning and decision-making processes, on the one hand, and administrative accountability on the other” (Olson, 2009). Shared governance at UMD emerged out of the realization that faculty, staff, and students were necessary partners in achieving UMD’s mission and vision. So even as faculty are being systematically removed from governance in universities across the United States, at UMD we are proud that our faculty have increased voice in decision-making. This is in addition to the fact that we have a faculty union (UEA-D) charged with improving work conditions for UMD faculty. Unlike UEA-D, all shared governance bodies are advisory to the administration including Faculty Senate; this means that we do not have legal authority, but can influence campus constituents in a variety of other ways. It also means that policies can be instituted at any time by the administration without the involvement of shared governance entities; although faculty can and should certainly raise their collective voices against these policies when necessary.

What is the purpose of Faculty Senate?

The basic purpose of the UMD Faculty Senate is to influence decision-making and governance at UMD and the university system to advance the interests of UMD faculty and UMD in general. Read our official charge below.

Our specific aims and objectives are to:

  • Represent faculty concerns, perspectives, hopes and visions
  • Solicit faculty perceptions, suggestions, and recommendations
  • Discuss and facilitate conversations around issues relevant to faculty
  • Create and develop policy and procedures related to curricula, research, scholarship, and creative activities, liberal education, and graduate education
  • Set academic standards
  • Make recommendations and requests to the administration (informally and formally via memos, resolutions, position statements, letters, and open letter)
  • Communicate between administration and faculty
  • Communicate between faculty and other campus committees
  • Advance policies to create a more diverse campus and address campus climate concerns
  • Address shared governance structural concerns

Official Charge

"The Faculty Senate is the governing body for faculty. It shall develop and recommend policies concerning overall degree requirements, including liberal education requirements and policies concerning all curricular programs, which have substantial impact on more than one collegiate unit. Faculty Senate shall have responsibility for addressing recommendations on matters relating, but not limited to curricula, research scholarship and creative activities, liberal education, undergraduate and graduate courses, all academic programs and course assessments, academic standards of admission of students, and policies to promote a diverse university body. The Senate is responsible for communicating information from faculty to the UCC and to members of the administration and also for disseminating information from the UCC and administration to the Faculty Assembly. The Senate will facilitate discussion of issues raised by faculty, various committees, or members of the administration and provide consultation and advice to administration and the appropriate committees (except on terms and conditions of work governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement). The Senate may establish task forces and/or working groups on specific issues as needed." (Constitution and Bylaws of the UMD Campus Governance, Approved 2017, p. 5).

What is the composition of the Faculty Senate?

Faculty Senate is composed of 16 members

  • 2 faculty representatives from each of the five colleges (term or tenure-track and any rank).
  • 1 representative from the following subcommittees: Liberal Education, Curriculum, Graduate Programs, and Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (RSCA)
  • President of the University Education Association-Duluth (UEA-D) (ex-officio non voting)
  • The Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (EVCAA) (ex-officio non voting)

What is Faculty Senate’s relationship to other shared governance bodies?  

  • FS is one of the seven standing committees in the UMD shared governance structure.
  • FS is the “parent committee” of four subcommittees: Liberal Education, Curriculum, Graduate Programs, and Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA)
  • The Chair and Vice Chair of FS sit on the University Coordinating Council (UCC), the primary governing body in shared governance, which is where policies end up for a vote.  
  • FS holds two of the sixteen votes on UCC.
  • FS chair sits on the Chancellor’s Senior Leadership Council, an advisory body comprised of senior administrators.

Faculty Senate and UEA-D: Stronger Together

The University Education Association (UEA) has represented and served faculty in the University of Minnesota system since 1981. UEA-Duluth exists to facilitate productive discussions of issues confronting faculty at UMD. It promotes the interests of higher education and research. It advances the standards, stature, and welfare of the faculty at UMD, and represents members in the collective bargaining process. UEA is an affiliate of Education Minnesota, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers.

UEA-D negotiates the collective bargaining agreement for all faculty at UMD with an appointment of 35 percent or greater. As such, Faculty Senate does not develop, recommend, or consult with members of the administration on "terms and conditions of employment." This, however, does not preclude the Senate from discussing concerns related to these issues or working alongside the UEA in the interests of faculty. The President of UEA-D serves as an ex-officio non-voting member of the Senate.

UEA-D and Faculty Senate often work together on areas of common concern. Some examples from 2018-2019 include faculty institutional service and student evaluations of teaching. Please see key initiatives page.

How do I serve on Faculty Senate?

  • Every Spring elections are held in each college for open positions in the shared governance structure. If this process is not clear, please contact you college assembly council chair and/ or college senior administration for clarity (i.e., Dean, Associate Dean, Dean’s Executive Assistant). If elections are not occurring in a clear and transparent manner within colleges, this is a governance issue and should be brought to the Faculty Senate.
  • Senators hold a three year term. The vice chair is typically elected by Senators in the second year of their term and the chair in the third year.
  • If you are interested in serving, let your colleagues (in your department and college) know, so they can vote for you. You can do this in this through word-of-mouth, but also by sending out a “campaign-style” message via email to your college.
  • Please review Roles and Responsibilities of Faculty Senate Representatives.

What are some qualities needed to be an effective Faculty Senate rep?

  • Commitment to upholding and articulating the overarching goals, mission, and values of UMD faculty and the professoriate
  • Solid understanding of key issues impacting faculty in higher education
  • Ability to express and articulate academic and social values important to constituent groups
  • Commitment to collaborative discussion and decision making
  • Experience in problem-solving
  • Responsive in communication (much work happens over email and quite suddenly at times, we need members who can be responsive and accountable to these demands)
  • Assertive
  • Hardworking and diligent
  • Accountable