GUIDE TO SENATE CONSULTATION
Last Updated: May 7, 2003
The Charter of the Manoa Faculty Senate states that the administration "... shall provide sufficient time for thorough discussion of the matter in regular meetings of the Senate."
This document provides practical guidelines. It is intended for use by not only the Manoa administration, but also the UH System administration when it consults the Manoa Faculty Senate on matters which have potential impact on Manoa or on the relationship of Manoa to the System.
Background: The timing of SEC, CAB, and BOR meetings
The primary conduit of communication with the Senate is the Senate Chair and Senate Executive Committee (SEC). The SEC meets weekly on Monday afternoons.
The full Senate meets monthly, on a Wednesday afternoon. Usually, this regular monthly meeting will be just before the monthly Thursday-Friday meetings of the Board of Regents (BOR). This means that a Senate can pass a resolution at its regular meeting to be presented to the Board of Regents at their meeting a day or two later.
The Senate has several standing committees dealing with particular areas of concern. The SEC will usually refer a matter to the appropriate standing committee. The Standing Committee on Administration and Budget (CAB), which is often the appropriate committee to review administrative actions, meets monthly, during the week preceding the regular monthly Senate meeting.
I. Suggested procedure in case of proposals to be put before the Board of Regents
Ideally, faculty will have been involved, formally or informally, in the preparation of draft proposals (see item III below). When the draft proposal is ready for official consultation with the Senate, the administration should take these steps:
1. Tell the Senate Chair about the matter about six weeks before the targeted BOR meeting. (That safely puts two Senate meetings between the initial notification and the BOR meeting: that's the key rule.)
2. Offer to make an initial presentation about the matter at the first Senate meeting.
3. Between the first and second Senate meetings, the relevant Senate standing committee will consider the matter and may propose a resolution for the Senate to vote on. The standing committee may invite a representative of the administration to attend the committee meeting.
4. At the second Senate meeting, the Senate may adopt an official position, perhaps in the form of a resolution.
5. The Senate's resolution can then be presented to the BOR in conjunction with the administration proposal.
Of course, this method is not appropriate for all matters. It's helpful to think of it as a default mechanism which is always in place and which has recognized legitimacy. If you follow this, no one can fault you for failing to consult with the faculty on matters which concern them.
It may be possible to shorten this time to one Senate meeting cycle if there has been sufficient faculty involvement early-on in the preparation of the proposal. At an absolute minimum, the SEC will need to be given the material two weeks before a BOR meeting.
II. Procedure where no BOR action is required
Proposals which do not involve the BOR should follow the same general procedure. It is wisest to allow two Senate meetings between the presentation to the SEC and the need to finalize a decision. Even in the most straightforward and least controversial cases, the SEC will need to be presented with the proposed action two weeks before the Senate meeting before the action is required.
III. Involving the Senate in policy--drafting and informal advisory groups
The formal consultation process goes much more smoothly and quickly if the Senate is kept informed of administration plans, even as new proposals are being floated and policies are being drafted. Working with the Senate in these early stages ensures that proposed actions are not sprung on the Senate as last-minute surprises. Early Senate involvement also means that faculty will rely lesson unfounded rumor as the means of discerning administration intents. And, it may be possible to shorten the formal approval period from two Senate meeting cycle to one cycle, if this is done.
The administration can facilitate early involvement by inviting one or more representatives of the relevant Senate standing committee as liaison to any working group preparing policy drafts. The standing committee representative can often foresee problems that could complicate and prolong the formal consultation process.
It is essential that the administration understand that inviting a standing committee representative to an informal administration policy-drafting group is not a substitute for formal Senate consultation.