General FAQs|Senate FAQs

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 Senate Committees and Memberships. 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.

Senate FAQs

I’ve been elected to the Senate from my School, now what?

Congratulations! Please familiarize yourself with following on the Senate website - Governance Resources. When you receive the Senate agenda, read the material provided and be ready to discuss or ask questions at the meeting. Start to consider how you will communicate with your constituency. Visit the membership page of the Senate to see who else is representing your School and consider conferring.

I’ve been elected to the Senate as an At-Large Member, now what?

Please see the FAQ about being elected as a School representative as much of the same material applies. Your duties are to discuss with School Representatives issues that cut across the Schools, suggesting and implementing means for cooperative consideration of these issues among relevant constituencies of the University Faculty.

Do I need to learn Robert’s Rules?

Yes, the Senate uses Robert’s Rules of Order as a meeting process. The Governance Resources link above has information to help you learn Robert’s Rules. You must have a good working understanding of Robert’s Rules to follow a Senate meeting. The Senate uses a speakers list for speaking order. Raise your hand to get on the speaker’s list. You should not speak unless you have been recognized by the Chair.

What are first and second readings?

All business items receive a first and second reading. The first reading of an item is meant for questions, clarifications, suggestions for improvement or for voicing major objections. No motions can be offered on a first reading, except to waive the first reading or refer the item back to the maker. The first reading also provides time between the first discussion of the item and subsequent voting so that Senators can confer with their constituencies. At the second reading, all appropriate amendments can be offered and voting can take place. It is possible to move to waive the first reading. This requires a second and can be debated. It takes a majority vote. Usually the first reading is waived only for time sensitive materials and is used primarily for resolutions. Typically, policy changes are not waived.

What can I expect at a Senate meeting?

The current Chair of the Faculty is Chair of the Senate meeting. The order of the agenda is usually followed quite closely. Reports are made by administrators, committee chairs, reps from the Associated Students, the Statewide Senators, CFA and the Staff. After reports, the Chair will ask if there are any questions. Sometimes the business will be heavy and sometimes light. If the business is heavy, not all reports will be given time. You may hear special reports and have visitors to the Senate such as the Mayor of Rohnert Park or the CSU Faculty Trustee.

How does the Senate vote?

Typically, the Senate votes by voice vote. If you favor, say Aye. If you oppose, say No. Sometimes, if the voice vote is close or if the Chair decides in advance, s/he will ask for a hand count. On rare occasions, a member will move to use a paper ballot. Members elected to serve on the Executive Committee from the Senate are voted on with a paper ballot.

What is the Executive Committee of the Senate?

The Executive Committee of the Senate approves the agenda for the Senate and reviews business items that come forward for “readiness” for the Senate. Two sitting voting members of the Senate are elected each year to serve on the Executive Committee as At-Large Members from the Senate. The Executive Committee membership is all ex-officio: Chair of the Senate, Vice Chair, Immediate Past Chair, Secretary, one Statewide Senator, two At-Large from the Senate, APARC Chair, EPC Chair, FSAC Chair and SAC Chair, a rep from CFA, the President, the Provost, the VP of Administration & Finance and the VP of Student Affairs. A Senate rep from the Associated Students usually attends as well. Typically, business for the Senate must come through the Executive Committee, however, resolutions have been offered from the floor of the Senate and can be added to the Senate’s agenda with a  2/3rds vote in the affirmative.

What is the Consent Calendar?

If an item appears on the Senate’s consent calendar, it means that it was approved unanimously through all levels of approval, including the Executive Committee. Typically, curricular changes will appear on the Consent Calendar. Consent Calendar items are emailed to Senators. If you think an item on the Consent Calendar has issues that need to be discussed or addressed, you can move to take it off the Consent Calendar and be made a business item. It would then go through first and second readings.

What if my name is misspelled or I don’t have a name tent or I’m not getting my agendas?

Contact the Senate office immediately – holmstrl@sonoma.edu, X42801, ST1027.

Why are the meetings recorded?

Senate meetings are recorded to facilitate the creation of minutes from the meeting. It also creates a verbatim record of the meeting which may prove useful to faculty in the future who want to hear a discussion on a particular item or topic. If you miss a meeting, you can listen to it on the Scholarworks or contact the Senate office for a CD or MP3 of the meeting.

I’m not tenured and I’m a bit concerned about what I say in the Senate, any advice?

To our knowledge, nothing that anyone has said at the Senate goes into the RTP process. That said, we expect all members to remain professional and civil, even during controversial discussions or disagreements.

I have to miss a meeting of Senate, what do I need to do?

If you know in advance that you will miss a meeting of the Senate, you may find a proxy from your School, to attend in your place. If you are an At-Large Rep to the Senate, you may choose any faculty member from any School. Email the Senate office, holmstrl@sonoma.edu, as we need your proxy designation in writing. Proxy rules are located in the by-laws.

Yikes! I’ve been elected, but have to miss a whole semester of Senate meetings!

If you are in this situation, contact the Senate office immediately (holmstrl@sonoma.edu). Your School will be contacted to send a semester replacement for you. You do not need to find a replacement, that is the responsibility of the School.