Senate History


The University of Arizona Faculty Senate came into being in the fall of 1947 under the first Faculty Constitution. A group of interested faculty members had drafted a faculty constitution and urged its ratification by the Arizona Board of Regents, in order to provide means by which the faculty would have greater voice in the governance of the University. The first Senate meeting was held on November 4, 1947.

Though the Constitution has been revised a number of times since 1947, the functions of the Faculty Senate have remained essentially the same. Early major changes involved faculty grievance procedures. In 1967 the Faculty Senate's responsibilities to “investigate and conduct hearings” were transferred to the newly established Committee on Academic Privilege and Tenure (renamed, in 1980, the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure).

Old MainOriginally, the Faculty Senate's membership included the President of the University, the Vice President, the Deans, the Registrar, fifteen members elected by the faculty-at-large, and one member elected by each college faculty. From 1967 to 1991, the composition of the Faculty Senate included twice as many elected Senators as ex‑officio members. Nine student members were added in 1975. In 1990-91, the membership of the Faculty Senate totaled 84. Reduction of the ex-officio membership and abandonment of the two-to-one ratio in 1991 brought the total membership down to 60 (20 at-large, 27 college, 6 ex-officio, and 7 student members). In 2009, the Senate added three more ex officio members, the chairs of the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee, Graduate Council, and Undergraduate Council The current total membership is 66.

From 1947 to Fall 1980, the President of the University was the presiding officer of the Faculty Senate. Beginning in Fall 1980, the Senate elected its presiding officer from among its members. With the revision of the Constitution and Bylaws in Fall 1998, the newly created position of Vice Chair presides over Faculty Senate meetings.

In October 1976 rules governing operation of the Faculty Senate were adopted. Particularly significant was the creation of an Executive Committee as well as committees on University planning and on academic procedures. In the spring of 1985 additional standing committees were created and functions realigned (Constitution, V.6). In the spring of 1992 the former Senate standing committee on budgeting and strategic planning was made a directly elected committee of the General Faculty (SPBAC).

In 2009, elected committee members’ and senators’ terms changed from taking office May 1 to June 1. Also, all three of the elected faculty officers aligned their terms to begin June 1 in the even-numbered years.

The position of Senate Parliamentarian was created in 1971.