Frequently Asked Questions

What is the University Senate?

An advisory body representing the general faculty, staff and students. It consists of elected, appointed, and ex-officio members. The Senate serves as a forum for communication and dialogue between the faculty and the University administration.

What is the mission of the University Senate?

University Senate is the primary University governance body where students, faculty, staff, and administrators debate university issues and reach conclusions on the policies and actions to be taken by the institution. It is the advisory body of the University in academic matters involving educational programs, requirements and standards; faculty welfare; and academic policy. The Board of Trustees delegates to Senate primary responsibility for curriculum, programs, and course offerings and advisory responsibility on academic matters related to Miami University.

Who is in Senate, and how are individuals assigned to Senate?

There are 72 members of University Senate. Seven are appointed by the University President. Nine and there are three positions representing particular organizations, such as Classified Personnel Advisory Committee, Unclassified Personnel Advisory Committee, and Associated Student Government. The remaining members represent a particular constituent group which typically covers one or more academic departments. The number of Senate representatives assigned to academic divisions and departments are proportionate to the number of faculty members in those units. Four members (Provost, Associate Provost, Recording Secretary, and Parliamentarian) are ex-officio and assist with the running of the meetings. The membership of Senate can be found on the University Senate website.

The typical term of membership for Senators is three years.

Elections are held every spring. The call for at-large members is sent out early in the spring semester, and voting occurs electronically shortly thereafter. Appropriate organizations as well as academic departments/divisions hold their own elections for their Senate representatives during the spring semester.

What is the Senate Executive Committee?

The Executive Committee of University Senate manages the business of Senate. Membership includes the Provost; three (3) elected faculty members of Senate (1) one undergraduate student who is the Student Body President; and one (1) graduate student who is a member of University Senate. The Associate Provost (University Secretary) and Recording Secretary serve as ex-officio members.

The Senate Executive Committee sets the schedule and agenda for University Senate meetings. It also is responsible for recruiting, selecting and filling all seats on University Senate and University Senate committees. It may suggest items for Senate committees to address, and on occasion, it may form ad hoc committees to address specific issues or problems that are not clearly aligned with the mission of any existing Senate committee.

What are the duties of the Senate Executive Committee officers? How long do they serve?

All members, except for the chair-elect, are elected for one-year terms. The chair-elect is appointed for a two-year term.

The Provost presides over all University Senate meetings.

The Chair is responsible for representing the University Senate at university functions and Board of Trustee meetings. The Chair manages the Senate Executive Committee meetings and regularly reports on the work of the Senate Executive Committee to University Senate.

The Chair-Elect shall perform all of the duties of the Chair in the absence or incapacity of the Chair. The Chair-Elect shall succeed to the office of Chair of Senate Executive Committee in the event that office should become vacant during the term of the incumbent.

The Associate Provost serves as Secretary of University Senate and supervises the Recording Secretary.

The Recording Secretary keeps accurate minutes of all regular and special meetings, ensures distribution of copies of the minutes to all Senators, keeps an accurate list of membership of the University Senate, keeps an accurate record of attendance, informs the Chair when a seat becomes vacant, and performs such other appropriate duties as directed by the University Senate.

Who is the Parliamentarian? What are the duties of the Parliamentarian?

The Parliamentarian is an ex-officio member of University Senate who advises the Provost, Senate Executive Committee Chair and University Senate members on the parliamentary matters according to the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order and the Bylaws of University Senate.

What is the relationship between the University Senate and administration? What is the role of Senate in determining university policy?

The University Senate is the centerpiece of shared governance. Senators serve as the voice of their particular constituent group and offer insight and advice on academic curriculum, policy and related matters. Although the advice of Senators is significant in formulating key decisions of the University, all legal authority in Miami University originates from the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees formally delegates authority over the day-to-day operation of the institution to the president, who, in turn, delegates authority over certain parts of university management to other university officials—for example, granting authority over academic personnel and programs to the provost as the chief academic officer, and so on.

What are the responsibilities of Senators to their units and to the university?

Because Senators are the elected representatives of their academic units or constituent groups to this legislative body, Senators are responsible for communicating with the faculty, staff or students in their units about all actions, pending and completed, of the University Senate. Best practices for Senator-unit communications include reviewing the Senate agenda with actions, sharing announcements with the unit faculty/staff/students, soliciting input on key issues, and serving as a liaison between the unit and the University Senate. Senate meeting Agendas and minutes »

When and where does the University Senate meet? Are meetings open to the public?

Senate meetings occur on Monday from 3:50 – 5:00 pm in 111 Harrison Hall. Changes in meeting dates or locations occur occasionally, and are announced in advance. Senate meetings are open to the public, and there is space for visitors. When the Senate deliberates on certain issues such as honorary degrees or the election of the members of Senate Executive Committee, it meets in Executive Session, and visitors will be asked to leave.

How are speaking rights granted?

Members of University Senate (elected, appointed and ex-officio) are automatically granted speaking privileges.

Visitors may not participate in Senate discussions and business except by advance invitation of the Chair of the Senate Executive Committee. Such an invitation will be announced to the Senators prior to the meeting via the Senate meeting agenda.

Senators and ex-officio members may ask questions during the question period. Questions may be addressed to anyone who has given a report to the Senate, Senate Executive Committee Officers, ex-officio members (including administrators) in attendance, or individuals who have been granted speaking privileges.

How is voting conducted?

Each non-ex-officio member of the Senate shall have one vote. A majority vote is needed for passage of a resolution. According to parliamentary procedures, the Senate may request a different form of voting, i.e., general consent, roll call vote, voice vote, or secret ballot.

Where do senators sit? How long is the seating order determined?

To facilitate the efficient flow of business, ex-officio members and the chair of the Senate Executive Committee are assigned seats in one portion of the room, and elected and appointed members are seated in alphabetical order.

What should a senator do if he/she arrives late for a Senate meeting?

If a Senator arrives late for a meeting, s/he should proceed quietly to his/her assigned seat. During the break, the Senator should make sure that the Recording Secretary has noted his/her arrival.

How does a senator make a motion?

A motion is a proposal that the entire membership may take action or a stand on an issue.

  1. The Senator raises his/her hand and waits to be recognized by the Provost or Chair of the Senate Executive Committee.
  2. The Chair/Provost recognizes the Senator, usually by referring to the person as Senator, followed by last name. After receiving formal recognition, a member is then said to “have the floor.”
  3. Once recognized, the Senator introduces a motion in form of “I move that…” followed by a statement of the motion. Please note that any Senator making a motion must be ready to provide a written copy of the motion to the Chair and the Recording Secretary at the time the motion is stated.
  4. Another member seconds the motion. Without recognition from the presiding official, another member may say, “I second the motion.” If the motion is not seconded, it “dies for lack of a second.”
  5. The Chair/Provost will state your motion by stating, “It has been moved and seconded that we …,” thus placing your motion before the Senate for consideration and action.
  6. At this point, you can elaborate on your motion.
  7. The membership then either debates your motion or may move directly for a vote. You may speak again after everyone has had a chance to speak.
  8. Once your motion is presented to the Senate it cannot be changed by you without the consent of the Senate members.
  9. When ready for a vote, the Chair or Provost asks, "Are you ready to vote on the question?" If there is no more discussion, a vote is taken.

What actions can be taken when a motion is made? Are there different types of motions?

Individual members can:

  • Second motions.
  • Debate motions.
  • Vote on motions.

Most motions are “main” motions which means that the purpose is to introduce items to the membership for their consideration. They cannot be made when any other motion is on the floor, and yield to privileged, subsidiary, and incidental motions.

There are three other types of motions:

  1. Subsidiary Motions: Their purpose is to change or affect how a main motion is handled, and is voted on before a main motion.
  2. Privileged Motions: Their purpose is to bring up items that are urgent about special or important matters unrelated to pending business.
  3. Incidental Motions: Their purpose is to provide a means of questioning procedure concerning other motions and must be considered before the other motion.

There are two other motions that are commonly used that relate to voting.

  1. Motion to Table -- This motion is often used in the attempt to "kill" a motion. The option is always present, however, to "take from the table", for reconsideration by the membership.
  2. Motion to Postpone Indefinitely -- This is often used as a means of parliamentary strategy and allows opponents of motion to test their strength without an actual vote being taken. Also, debate is once again open on the main motion.

What are the University Senate committees?

A list of the Senate committees, their functions and memberships is included on the University Senate website.

Who serves on University Senate committees?

Each Spring semester, the Recording Secretary sends out a call for committee memberships to all eligible faculty and staff. Eligible individuals can volunteer for one or more committees.

Each committee has a particular composition of members which is determined by the Governance Committee of University Senate. The Governance Committee audits all committee compositions regularly to ensure that all academic divisions, departments and other units are represented fairly and appropriately in all committees. The Senate Executive Committee then reviews the open seats in each committee and attempts to assign individuals who volunteered to serve and who are from appropriate units.

What is the role of the chair of a University Senate committee?

Chairs of University Senate committees are responsible for:

  1. understanding the responsibilities and functions of the committee (and charge, if given one by the Senate Executive Committee);
  2. ensuring that the activities of the committee are aligned with the committee’s responsibilities and functions;
  3. alerting the Senate Executive Committee if they intend to veer from the committee’s responsibilities or if there are open seats on the committee;
  4. scheduling meetings;
  5. creating the agenda and minutes of all meetings;
  6. preparing an annual report; and
  7. submitting all minutes and the annual report to the Recording Secretary in a timely fashion.