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The University Senate is a legislative arm of the faculty comprised of 78 faculty, professional, and student senators (78 positions are currently filled out of 89 possible positions). Records include legislation, meeting records, and Council Records.

31 cubic ft.

2733 Digital Files

162 captures

English .
Preferred citation:

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, University Senate Records, 1915-2023. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Senate Records).


Scope and Content:

The records of the University Senate include agendas and minutes, correspondence, memoranda, reports, bills, resolutions, and legislation relating to the University Senate (November 1969 to present), and its predecessor organizations, the Faculty Senate (May 1966-October 1969) the Faculty Council (1915-37, 1944-66), the Faculty- Administration Council (1945-54/55), the Academic Council (1952-63), the Undergraduate Academic Council (1963-66), and the Graduate Academic Council (1964-66). Some minutes of the Faculty-Administration Council are bound with the minutes of the Faculty Council (1944-47). No records exist for the years 1938 through 1943.

The records of the University Senate and its predecessor bodies contain discussions of faculty academic and social life, changes in academic programs, regulations of student academic and social life, major university reorganization plans, and the composition of the University Senate and its councils. Specific topics discussed include the addition of administrators and students to the University Senate in the late 1960s, the Senate's official statement on the Vietnam War (1970), the University's policy on protests and demonstrations (1967), the implementation of s/u grading in 1969, the elimination of the general degree requirements for a liberal arts education (the CURE proposal) in 1970 and the reimplementation of degree requirements in the 1980s, the development of multidisciplinary majors such as Judaic Studies and Puerto Rican Studies in 1974 and Chinese Studies and Asian Studies in 1979, and the University's smoking policy. Bound with the Faculty Council minutes (1915-37) are the minutes of general Faculty Meetings.

The records of the University Senate are divided into subgroups, and these subgroups represent either the records of predecessor organizations, the general records of the University Senate or the records of the individual councils of the Senate. The records of councils' committees are found following that council's general records.

Biographical / Historical:

The earliest predecessor of the University at Albany Senate (commonly referred to as the University Senate) was the Faculty Council, whose minutes date from 1915 through 1937. The Faculty Council, whose members consisted of the President, Deans, and faculty representatives, functioned as an advisory body on campus policy and academic affairs.[1] No records of the Faculty Council exist after May 1937.

In June 1944, at the urging of the New York State College for Teachers' chapter of the American Association of University Professors,[2] a Faculty-Administration Council was formed to facilitate cooperation between faculty and administration on any policy that "touches faculty-administration relationships and the general welfare of the college."[3] Its membership consisted of the President of the College, the Dean, other members of the administrative staff, and twelve elected faculty members. Six new faculty members, two from each academic rank, were elected in May of each year to serve two-year terms. Faculty membership in the Council would rise to eighteen by 1962, still equally divided by rank.[4] The faculty members of the Faculty-Administration Council held separate meetings as a Faculty Council "to consider common problems and policies, assign committee responsibilities in certain areas, and formulate recommendations to be submitted to the Faculty-Administration Council."[5] The last mention of a Faculty-Administration Council meeting appears in 1955.[6]

The Faculty Council's mission was to represent "the faculty as a whole . . . . act as a liaison and advisory body to the Administration . . . representing faculty opinion on matters of College policy and in the broader aspects of College planning" and "develop and sustain the best possible conditions of faculty life, work, and morale."[7] After 1955, liaison between the Faculty Council and the administration was achieved through a bi-monthly conference of the chairman of the Faculty Council and the President, at which meeting the President would raise questions he wanted the Faculty Council to discuss. On occasion, the President met with the full Council.[8] The Faculty Council continued to function until it was replaced by the Faculty Senate in 1966.

As the Faculty Council was transformed into a strictly faculty body, other councils were created to deal with increasingly complex problems of college governance. The first of these bodies was the Academic Council (1953-63), briefly called the College Advisory Council (1952-53), also referred to in the 1962 Faculty Handbook as the Administrative (Academic) Council.[9] It consisted of departmental chairmen and administrative representatives. Its responsibilities included acting on recommendations for undergraduate and graduate course changes and taking "broad curriculum changes to the faculty for a vote."[10] As graduate education assumed a more important role in the College, a Graduate Academic Council was created in 1963 consisting of the Director of Graduate Studies and eight members of the graduate faculty (four appointed by the President, and four elected by the graduate faculty). The Graduate Academic Council's responsibilities were to appoint "study committees on curriculum, admissions, and educational policy" as well as ad hoc committees as the need arose.[11] Shortly after the Graduate Academic Council was formed, President Collins dissolved the Academic Council and created an Undergraduate Academic Council whose membership and functions paralleled those of the Graduate Academic Council.[12] A Student Personnel Council was created, first mentioned in 1962, consisting of personnel staff and faculty appointed by the President. Its mission was to deal with questions involving student activities, counseling, loans and scholarships.[13] The proliferation of councils of the university, coupled with the rapid expansion of the school as it adapted to its new mission as a University Center, made reorganization of this structure imperative by the mid-sixties.[14]

In the spring of 1966, the University Faculty created the Faculty Senate out of the formerly independent councils of the University including the Faculty Council, the Undergraduate Academic Council, the Graduate Academic Council, and the Student Personnel Council. The mission of the new Faculty Senate included the delegated authority of the University Faculty, granted by the SUNY Board of Trustees, to "participate in the development of educational programs . . . and be responsible for the conduct of the college's instruction, research, and service programs."[15] In addition to these broad delegated powers, the Faculty Senate was also granted the power to form the agenda for meetings, create councils and committees, administer faculty financial affairs, call for referenda, consult on major University reorganizations and appointments, and issue annual reports to the faculty.[16]

This reorganization reflected the broader conception of the faculty adopted in the SUNYA Faculty by-laws of March 1966,[17] which as applied to the Faculty Senate included as ex-officio members representatives of the SUNY Central Administration, the major administrative officers of SUNYA, local campus representatives of the SUNY Faculty Senate, as well as at large, college, and school representatives of the voting faculty, and voting faculty appointed by the President.[18]

The Faculty Senate changed its name to the University Senate in October 1969 when student representation was added to the body. Beginning in the fall of 1970, student representation consisted of 33 Senators, one third elected from the graduate body and two thirds from the undergraduate body.[19] In the 1980s, student representation decreased. By 1990, student representation consisted of 15 Senators, 1 elected from the graduate body and 14 from the undergraduate body.[20] With minor variations in the representation of the different groups, the make-up of the Senate has remained the same for a number of years. The University Senate remains the principal policy-making body of the University.

In 2011, the University Senate investigated the allegations of violations of governance procedures in the matter of the academic program deactivations. Senator David Wills attempted to add this concern to the December 12th, 2011 agenda via the SEC Committee chair without success resulting in him raising the matter to the other University Senate members by email resulting in a discussion of by-laws procedures for adding agenda items. Concerns raised by the faculty though the Senate regarding the program deactivations documents the impact of shared governance on public university administration.

In the Fall of 2011, President George M. Philip announced his intention to retire. The University Council was responsible for creating a Presidential Search Committee and submitting its recommendations to the Chancellor and Trustees of the State University of New York. The University Faculty Senate was charged by the University Council to nominate and elect six full-time faculty members to serve as representatives in the process and speak to a comprehensive faculty opinion.

Notes 1. Faculty Council, Minutes, 1915. There was no specific statement of function for the Faculty Council. The purpose of the Faculty Council was established by reading the minutes. 200/01/012. "Suggested Plan for a Faculty-Administration Council for the New York State College for Teachers," May 1, 1944.3. "Faculty-Administration Council General Rules to Govern Elections and Operations," circa 1944. 200/01/014. Faculty Handbook , 1962, pp. 16-17.5. Faculty Handbook , 1952, p. 11.6. Faculty Council, Annual Report, 1954-55, p. 1.7. Faculty Handbook , 1962, pp. 16-17.8. Faculty Council, Annual Report, 1955-56, p. 2.9. Academic Council, Agendas and Minutes, 1952-53, 200/02/01; Faculty Handbook, 1962, p. 16.10. Faculty Handbook , 1962, p. 16.11. Faculty Handbook , 1962, p. 20.12. Academic Council, Minutes, October 21, 1963. 200/02/0113. Faculty Handbook , 1962, p. 20. For the records of the Student Personnel Council, see the Office of the President, Records, President Evan Collins, Subject Files. 00014. "Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Faculty Council on the Nature of the University," October 1965, pp. 6-8, in particular voiced the Faculty's frustration at not being involved in major decisions affecting the University. Subsequent attempts to ratify new Faculty By-Laws which codified the proliferation of University councils were rejected by the Faculty Council in December 1965. Faculty Council Bulletin , December 15, 1965.15. State University of New York, Policies of the Board of Trustees, 1962, X, sect. 4, p. 13.16. Faculty Handbook , 1966-67, "Faculty By-Laws," Article I, sect. 3.1, Article II, sect. 1.1-1.7, pp. 7.1-7.3.17. Faculty Handbook , 1966-67, Article I, sect. 1, p. 7.1.18. Ibid., Article II, sect. 2.1, p. 7.3.19. Faculty Handbook , 1970-71, Article II, sect. 2.6-2.7, p. 13.20. Faculty Handbook , 1990-92, Article II, sect. 2.6-2.7, p. 11.

Acquisition information:
These records were transferred to the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, by the University Senate. Paper records are transferred prior to 2014, and likely prior to 2001. Since 2016, records are created, managed, and maintained primarily in digital form. Records from early 2000s-2018 were managed and transferred managed by Elisa Lopez, secretary in the President's Office in 2016-2018. Support staff for university administration was significantly reduced in 2018 as a cost-saving measure. Senate records from 2018-2019 were transferred by Elizabeth Gray from the Provost's office, who took over as Senate staff support. Council records are also managed by assigned staff members, but transfers have been irregular.
Processing information:

Processed in 2016 by Geoffrey P. Williams, Geoffrey A. Huth, and Salvatore Canino.

Two series were excluded from this collection: Commencement 2004-2013 and Elections 2004-2017. Both were determined to be unnrelated to the scope of other items in the collection. Files pertaining to either series are avaialble by request.

Elections 2004-2017 contain election ballots and solicitations for service arranged chronologically.

Commencement 2004-2013 contain documents regarding ordering regalia and seating charts for faculty members who are seated on the podium platform during Commencement.

Updated in 2023 by Meghan Slaff, primarily in born-digital records from 2002 to present day.


The records were reorganized in 2016 to be consistant with the Senate's current recordkeeping practices. Records are divided into series based on recors type and use.

Physical location:
The materials are located onsite in the department.



Using These Materials

The archives are open to the public and anyone is welcome to visit and view the collections.

Access to this record group is unrestricted.


Records in this collection were created by the University at Albany, SUNY, and are public records.


Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, University Senate Records, 1915-2023. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Senate Records).

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