The University Act, the piece of legislation which sets up a framework for UBC and other provincial universities, establishes a dual-campus academic governance body, the Council of Senates. The Council of Senates, often referred to simply as ‘the Council’, has not met in-person since 2009, but considers business on an as-needed basis via email. It functions primarily as a referral body, with the current rules essentially requiring agenda items to be sent from either the Vancouver or Okanagan Senate, the President or the Board of Governors. The agenda package is available publicly. Here’s what to expect at the upcoming March 2019 Council of Senates meeting.
Changes to the rules
The Council of Senates Executive Committee is recommending that the Council amend its rules in a variety of ways. Substantive changes include a provision to allow members to defer decisions proposed to be made under delegated authority back to the Council itself, a new section to require the Council to meet at least once every three years and an expanded set of restrictions on individuals holding academic administrative positions from serving on the Council’s budget committee. A number of minor, editorial changes are also proposed.
Re-instating elections for Chancellor
As a result of amendments made to the University Act more than a decade ago, the method for selecting the position of Chancellor in the province’s universities shifted from election by convocation to appointment by the Board of Governors on recommendation by the alumni association. The two campus-based Senates at the time of the amendments resolved to oppose the changes. A renewed motion is being proposed through the Council that would call upon the government to reinstate the elected model.
The Council of Senates is assigned responsibility for approving affiliation agreements with other institutions, some of which can be approved under authority delegated to other bodies. Due to the near-decade gap between Council meetings, the list of approved agreements can be counted in the dozens. The Council executive committee has also struck a review committee to consider updating the policy that governs such affiliation agreements.
Jakob Gattinger is a fifth-year applied science student, and a student member of both UBC’s Council of Senates and the UBC Vancouver Senate.