The Faculty Senate is an essential foundation for a meaningful faculty voice in shared governance.
The Faculty Senate is responsible for establishing university-wide academic standards and policies in accordance with the university's mission, and with particular attention to the common good of the university. Faculty of individual schools and colleges exercise the autonomy appropriate to their expertise and to their particular understanding of the values and boundaries of their disciplines, as they contribute to the mission and the common good of the university. Schools and colleges thus have autonomy except in those areas expressly delegated to the Faculty Senate or to specific committees.
The Faculty Senate is responsible for establishing policies that represent minimum standards of faculty rights and responsibilities. Faculty of individual schools and colleges may establish additional faculty rights and responsibilities provided that they are no less stringent than the university-wide standards, are not in violation of the Faculty Handbook, and do not abrogate faculty rights or university policies.
(Faculty Handbook ch. 1 pg. 3-4)
The Faculty Senator's Role and Responsibilities
Elected by the faculty in a particular school, each individual senator has a duty to voice the concerns and to represent the interests of that school; yet each senator is equally accountable for contributing to the common good of the academic community that is the University of St. Thomas.
1. Senator's General Responsibilities. A faculty senator's role carries three general responsibilities:
a. To receive and/or solicit faculty on matters that may be brought to the Faculty Senate; if appropriate, to bring those matters before the Faculty Senate for consideration. Meeting this responsibility ensures that the particular constituency whom the senator represents is given a voice; collectively, the process fosters an environment of bottom-up, pro-active governance that responds to the concerns of all academic areas of the university.
b. To contribute to the quality of discussion on matters before the Faculty Senate by presenting and considering all pertinent facts; to contribute to the mutual understanding and acceptance of Faculty Senate decisions and recommendations by ensureing that all legitimate perspectives may be aired. In meeting this responsibility the faculty senator contributes to a decision- making process that seeks the common good throught broad participation in a climate marked by civility, mutual trust and mutual respect.
c. To give expression to faculty voice on matters immediately before the Faculty Senate through active engagement in Faculty Senate deliberations and throug informed and conscientious voting. In meeting this responsibility the faculty senator acts as steward of the intellectual, cultural, spiritual and material welfare of the community.
2. Sennators' Specific Duties. A faculty senator must also be prepared to assume several specific duties:
a. To participate in a formal orientation to the work of the Faculty Senate and to their responsibilities and duties as senators.
b. To attend Faculty Senate meetings and to do the requisite preparation, including being informed on issues and items to be deliberated at each meeting.
c. To communicate with constituent faculty regularly and in a timely manner on governance and academic matters that fall within the purview of the Faculty Senate and especially on matters currently before the Faculty Senate; to report and if necessary to explain to constituent faculty the reason for the senator's vote on a particular issue.
d. To employ communication practices which enhance the Faculty Senate’s ability to understand and to effectively represent the university faculty as a whole, while promoting the common good of the university.
e. To serve, as needed, on Faculty Senate subcommittees, and/or on task groups designated by the Faculty Senate as a means for conducting the work of the Faculty Senate.
f. To serve, as called and as able, in Faculty Senate leadership positions.
g. To serve, in the usual case, a term of three years.
The faculty member who serves as a senator assumes a special burden of responsibility as a representative of the faculty and makes an important contribution to the welfare and well-being of the university. Given the scope of the senator's responsibilities and the time required to meet them, the job of the faculty senator will be recognized as a major service commitment to the university.
(Faculty Handbook ch. 1. pg. 8-9)