General FAQs

What is Faculty Governance?

Faculty Governance is the large term for the Academic Senate and its committee structure that govern specific aspects of the university. See the Senate Constitution for the purview of the Senate.

How can I get elected to a faculty governance committee?

For committees with School Representation, watch for election announcements from your School. For At-Large positions on the Senate or other committees, watch the Senate-announce listserv for announcements of openings. If you are not subscribed to the Senate-announce list, contact the Senate office. Additionally, get to know your colleagues across your School. The more people who know you, the better your chance to be elected.

I’m a new faculty member, should I get involved in faculty governance?

If this is your first tenure-track teaching position, it is probably best to wait a couple of years before getting involved in faculty governance. Talk to your Department. If you have been tenure track at another institution, but have not served in faculty governance, you may want to wait a year before becoming involved. Again, talk to your Department. If you have been involved in faculty governance at another university, please jump right in! In any case, it is best NOT to start by serving on the Senate. See if one of the subcommittee’s work is appealing to you first, then move to a Standing Committee and then the Senate. This path would provide you with the best preparation to be a good Senator for your School.

Do the faculty governance committees have set meeting times and days?

Yes, you can see those posted here. Having set meeting days and times for our committees helps faculty plan their schedules.

Where can I find information about the committees?

All current committee memberships are posted on this website. Talk to former or current members of the committees. Use the navigation bar to go to Memberships and Meeting Dates. You can also talk to the Senate Analyst.

What is the term for most positions on most committees?

Three years.

Is it important for me to learn Robert’s Rules?

If you become a Senator, it is imperative you have strong working understanding of Roberts Rules. Use the Resource link in the navigation bar to help you. If you are serving on a Standing Committee, you will need a general understanding of Robert’s Rules. If you are serving on a subcommittee, you may or may not need to know Robert’s Rules.

How does faculty governance service affect my RTP?

Service in faculty governance counts as university service in the RTP process. What you say or how you vote does not affect the University RTP committee or the President.

What if I have to miss one or two meetings of a committee I’ve been elected to?

Be sure to notify the Chair of the Committee as soon as you know of the need to be absent. If you are a School Rep, for most committees, you may send a proxy from your School to represent you for the meeting you will miss. If you have more questions about proxies or absences, contact the Senate office.

What if I have to miss a whole semester on a committee I was elected to?

If you are a School Rep, contact your School office and ask them to appoint/elect a semester replacement. Be sure to cc the Senate office. If you are an At-Large Rep, contact the Chair of Structure and Functions and cc: the Senate office. S&F will put out a call to all faculty for a semester replacement for you.

What is my role as committee member?

From the Senate by-laws: "School Representatives to the Standing Committees of the Academic Senate are expected to regularly communicate to their constituents, including the School Curriculum Committee and Department Chairs, the business and issues before the bodies on which they serve, to receive feedback from their constituents on these matters, and to convey that feedback to their Committees." Your role on any committee is to attend regularly and participate fully. Expect to do work for the committee you are elected to.

How do I become Chair of a committee?

Serve on the committee, at minimum, for one semester. Each Spring the committees vote or select their new Chairs for the coming academic year. Chairs have a one year term, but can be re-elected indefinitely.

Why are administrators on faculty governance committees?

Campus administrators on faculty governance committees are there to provide information and insight regarding recommendations on policy; and to assist in the implementation of policy once it has been recommended by the Senate and approved by the President. Administrative members may solicit advice from committees regarding the implementation of policy in their areas of functional concern.

How can a faculty member propose changes in faculty governance?

Contact the Chair of Structure and Functions, our committee on committees, with your proposal.

I need university service, but am not sure I can or want to serve in faculty governance. What else can I do?

There are many opportunities for university service announced each year via Senate-announce. Make sure you are subscribed to that listserv, as that is the only way you will find out about other opportunities. If you are not receiving Senate-announce emails, contact the Senate office, immediately. Faculty are automatically subscribed to this list. It is an announce-only list, not a discussion list.

What is Senate-Talk?

Senate-Talk is a listserv designed for discussions of business before the Senate, or business faculty wish to see before the Senate. You must subscribe to be on this list. Go to https://mailman.sonoma.edu/mailman/listinfo/senate-talk. You do not need to be a member of the Senate or serve on any faculty governance committee to be subscribed to Senate-Talk. Just remember, Senate-Talk is a listserv, and does not always reflect the actual work of the Senate or faculty governance.