Category Archives: When Rights Clash


This site provides both a history of how the University of Utah came to have an Academic Senate and a guide to navigating the U of U’s modern shared governance system. It was authored by Allyson Mower and Paul Mogren. Paul and I both served as Presidents of the Academic Senate—2008-2009 and 2013-2014, respectively.

When I started my term in May 2013, I had excellent mentors, but no historical perspective on why the University had an Academic Senate or what the broader role the Senate intended to fulfill. Other than recent and immediate past-presidents, my main source of information became University policy, particularly the policy on the Academic Senate. Knowing the rules turned out to be incredibly informative and helpful when it came to managing the Senate, but they certainly did not tell a story.

Given the significance of the Academic Senate as well as its historical progression, Paul and I wanted to write a public history that went beyond the rules and regulations to illustrate the Senate’s broader role. We offer this information to current Senate Presidents, members of the Academic Senate, the University community, and anyone interested in the history of the University of Utah, tenure, and academic freedom.



Common questions asked of Academic Senate presidents at the University of Utah include why the University has an Academic Senate, how it works, and who gets to have a say. Several events contributed to its creation, but the firing of four male professors in 1915 and the pushback from both the local and campus communities solidified its existence. What is now the Academic Senate started as the Administrative Council on April 12, 1915 with five elected professors. Its initial role was to represent the faculty and establish formal communication with the University’s Regents about tenure, academic programs, and funding. Over the last century, the Academic Senate has grown from five professors to 118 voting members representing students, professors, instructors, researchers, clinicians, librarians, and deans. Despite its growth, the Senate still serves its original function of establishing and maintaining lines of communication between faculty, students, and administrators.

Issues surrounding employment contracts, salaries, freedom of association, and freedom of speech quietly simmered at the University during the first decade of the 20th century. Professors petitioned for raises and job security while students asked for progressive political clubs and speakers. As valedictorian Milton H. Sevy put it in his 1914 commencement address, conservatism had for too long “been a matter of pride” in Utah (Sevy 1914). University leaders responded to these requests by banning not only outside employment for professors (including running for political office), but also denying students the ability to form political clubs and host political speakers. Although this “clash” of rights in 1914-1915 formed the Academic Senate, battles had brewed between faculty and administrators over academic freedom from the early days of the University.

Contrary to many assumptions, the University of Utah was not established as a religious school nor did it start as an agricultural college or a traditional liberal arts institution. It grew in fits and starts and was ultimately a product of a culture and community which had been defined not only by strongly held religious beliefs and a history of persecution for those beliefs, but also a diverse mixture of educational, religious, and immigrant experiences. This text incorporates a brief history of the University and its governance for the purpose of establishing the world in which the Academic Senate originated. Meeting minutes taken by the original University of Deseret Board of Regents or the Regency as it was formerly called (this work uses both terms throughout the text) provided the early historical record.

In the beginning, the Regency governed the University of Utah. The committee was created by and vested with authority from the General Assembly of the State of Deseret—a provisional, civil government proposed by Mormon Church leaders two years after they arrived in Utah.[1] This tentative government petitioned for and received territorial government status from the U.S. Federal government in late 1850 and although it represented a civil government, the LDS Church High Council established it to rule the Mormon pioneers who immigrated to Utah. This High Council had elected themselves to serve as members of the Deseret General Assembly in 1849 and they elected LDS Church President Brigham Young as Governor (Arrington and May 2007) (Morgan 1940).

In one of its first matters of business, the General Assembly passed an ordinance (later ratified by the Territorial Assembly on October 4, 1851) to establish the University and empower the Regency. See Figures 1 and 2 for the General Assembly roster and those in attendance on February 28, 1850 when the University of Utah was created. The duties of the Regency consisted of determining courses of study for the University, administering a system of both higher and public education throughout the state, and acting as “fathers and guardians” of the institution (full ordinance). The formulation of a university for the State of Deseret did not represent a foreign concept to early LDS Church leaders. The incorporating ordinance for the University of Deseret appeared to be a close replica of the university Mormons had previously established in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1842, which was only partially realized before Nauvoo was destroyed when their first leader Joseph Smith was assassinated and LDS members were forced out of Illinois in 1847 (Moffitt 1946).

The General Assembly elected many of its own members to serve on the Regency, as such the roster includes many individuals who featured prominently in early Mormon history. A few members had advanced education and experience in teaching including Orson Spencer (Chancellor) and Orson Pratt who briefly taught for the University of Nauvoo. This board not only administered and managed the early school, but out of necessity also served as teachers and librarians for the University.

University of Deseret Board of Regents, 1850

Orson Spencer, Chancellor and Chairman
Simeon Andrews
William Appleby
Ezra Benson
Albert Carrington
Orson Hyde
James Lewis
William Phelps
Orson Pratt
Parley Pratt
Samuel Richards
George Albert Smith
Daniel Spencer
Hosea Stout
Daniel Wells

Although the early Regency consisted of State of Deseret and LDS Church leaders, the committee eventually evolved into a citizen board of advisors. In 1869, the President of the University began to assume more authority in an effort to balance the power of the Regency. Eventually, professors also sought to balance the power by pushing for committees that could recommend policy changes or, more importantly, seek to have the power to approve a policy, new faculty member, department or major before being implemented. The timelines included in the preface show this progression.

Early Regency Meetings

The Regency held their first meeting on March 13, 1850 in the log cabin of fellow General Assembly member, church leader, and Regent Parley Pratt where they elected a secretary and created several committees. One committee focused on drafting a preamble and proclamation, another determined a site for the University[2] and other committees focused on book selection and the preparation of a university seal. They also tasked Regent Albert Carrington to write Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian “for any information regarding plans of Buildings, of Schools, of Books, and apparatus for the diffusion of useful knowledge” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7), which he did on November 30, 1851 (Carrington 1851).

Deseret Gen Assembly rolls 1850 (2)

Figure 1. Senators of the State of Deseret, 1850 (Courtesy of LDS Church History Library)


Deseret Gen Assembly rolls 1850 (2)

Figure 2. House of Representatives of the State of Deseret, 1850 (Courtesy of LDS Church History Library)

Despite the fact that the Regency consisted of Mormon Church leaders, the meeting minutes provided no evidence that these leaders intended for the University to disseminate religious education. Instead, the minutes illuminated the challenges of creating an institution of higher liberal education for a population of pioneers who possessed little formal education. The meetings highlighted the concern of all state leaders about how they wanted to quickly train teachers in order to establish a public school system for children. The early state leaders–some of whom had been educated at well-established universities in New England–wrestled with how to meet the demand of training teachers while honoring the tradition of creating an institution of higher learning that concentrated on classical and liberal education.

The first meetings of the Regents reflected the power Governor Young held over them as both their secular and religious leader. Even Brigham Young did not expect the University to be confined to religious instruction. In the second meeting held on March 20, 1850, Governor Young informed them that they were to: first, educate primary school teachers by finding and paying individuals who could be qualified to train them and second, oversee the implementation of a simplified alphabet in order to facilitate efficient learning in the territory (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7).

In an early foreshadowing of what has become a well entrenched argument between publicly funded universities and legislative leaders, Governor Young also instructed the Regents to use what limited funds were available for the purposes of education, not buildings (even though they were sorely needed). He warned “he should be at war with the Regency if they used the funds belonging to the University to build fine Buildings instead of educating the Poor” (ibid., 2).

As for the new alphabet, Governor Young told the Regents that it was needed “to condense the truth that is scattered through an almost endless line of dusty volumes that crowd the shelves of every public library” (ibid., 6). According to John Moffitt’s History of Public Education in Utah, Governor Young recommended the new alphabet “be thoroughly and extensively taught in all the schools as a basis of instruction for the attainment of the English language” (54).

In addition to providing directions regarding the early University’s goals and progression, Brigham Young contributed a significant number of his own volumes to form the University’s first library. The collection consisted mostly of German and English Bibles, but also included readers, dictionaries, and musical scores. Henry Gassett of Boston, MA also donated texts, which, along with Young’s donations, necessitated the appointment of Regent William Appleby as librarian on November 3, 1850, a few days before hiring the first professor.

AN ORDINANCE incorporating the University of the State of Deseret copy

Figure 3. University of Deseret Ordinance, 1850

[1] The General Assembly met in regular session from December 1849 to March 1851. Almon W. Babbitt delivered the provisional constitution to Congress for statehood approval after John M. Bernhisel laid the groundwork, but it was denied. Instead, President Millard Fillmore granted territorial status on September 9, 1850 through the Organic Act, appointed Brigham Young as territorial governor and established the territorial assembly (Morgan 1940) (Johnson 2007). The tentative State of Deseret dissolved in March 1851, but continued to be referred to by name and in documents into the 1860s (Morgan 1940). The University of Deseret’s name was changed to the University of Utah in 1892.

[2] The original site selected by the Regents and Governor Brigham Young was near South Temple and present-day University Street. The eastern boundary extended to present-day Wolcott Street and the southern boundary was near 700 South (Utah Territory Legislative Assembly 1855) (Bullock 1860). It would take 50 years before this site became the University’s permanent home. The Regents believed that it was important to build a wall in order to mark university land until funds could be raised to build structures. Before they even hired a professor, the Regents, with the help of Governor Young, employed 72 men to build a wall quarried from rock in Red Butte Canyon. The wall stood four and a half feet tall, sloped at the top, and was three feet at the base (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7). The wall no longer stands.

Chapter One: Advent of the Faculty

The early history of the University sets the stage for what would soon become a theme: the battle over academic freedom and free speech, which is fought between the groups charged with running the University and the faculty hired to meet the goal of disseminating knowledge.

The Regency had to decide whether they would hire professors from the small number of well-educated men within their own ranks or venture outside the state to hire a “stranger” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7, Nov. 6 1850 meeting). Given the fact that the Mormons had already been forced to escape the angry mobs of strangers to their religious practices in both Illinois and Missouri, the question of whether to bring an outsider to their community was understandable. However, it is not clear whether the reference meant a non-Mormon or whether they simply meant someone who remained unwilling to submit to the authority of the Regents to set the educational agenda.

The Regency interviewed two candidates for the position who both appeared to be ‘strangers’ to the Utah territory. The first interview candidate was Cyrus Collins who was introduced by Regent George Albert Smith. Mr. Collins—sometimes also called Dr. Collins—was a native of Vermont and had graduated from Dartmouth in 1842 (Dartmouth College 1841). The second interview was held with a man who was only referred to as “Mr. Slater” and his origins are not known, but both men appeared to fit the description of ‘stranger’ or outsider given the debates reflected in the minutes about whether to hire either of them.

Both candidates were asked to address the question of the best system of education, school organization, and curriculum. In the minutes it appeared that Mr. Slater was not prepared to answer the question and deferred to Mr. Collins’ viewpoints. The minutes noted that Mr. Collins discussed “the system of education, the effects of bad teaching, and his manner of advancing scholars rapidly” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7, Nov. 5, 1850 meeting). This, along with the fact that the Regents believed that Collins had adequately expressed a willingness to be governed by the Regents, appeared to give Cyrus Collins the edge in the minds of most Regents.

Despite this, two Regents (William Phelps and Parley Pratt) expressed great reservations about Collins and about whether it was advisable to hire “strangers we know nothing about” (ibid., Nov. 6 1850 meeting). William Phelps felt that Utah should not be “beholden to the World for teachers” (ibid.) and that someone from the community—namely, Chancellor Orson Spencer—should serve as the first professor. The minutes do not reflect the number or names of the Regents who disagreed with this view because the surprising and forceful view in favor of hiring an outside teacher was voiced by Governor Young. He disagreed with Phelps and Pratt and said that he believed that “either of the persons named was capable of teaching the school” (ibid.). Governor Young scolded the Regents by telling them that their role was to “fit teachers out” for their minds and not for their ability to “preach the Gospel” and then Young went on to declare that any man who refused to hire a stranger would become “a stink in his nostrils” (ibid.). Brigham Young often used this biblical reference to the Book of Isaiah[3] when he thought it necessary to remind them that the empty superficial manifestations of piety, like the smoke, which emanated from burnt offerings, would fail to please God and thus merely stink in his nostrils (Turner 2012).

Whether Governor Young persuaded the Regency with his eloquence or his absolute power as both a secular and religious leader is unclear, but in the end they voted unanimously to employ Mr. Collins for the first quarter. The quarter started on November 11, 1850, but since a building was not yet ready classes were held in the home of John Pack on West Temple and 1st North. At the time, the school was open to men only and focused on teaching the sciences to potential district and ecclesiastical ward teachers. Tuition was $8 and, according to the Regents’ ledger of subscribers, i.e. students, approximately forty men enrolled including three Regents: William Phelps, Daniel Spencer, and Orson Spencer. The advertisement the Regents printed in the Deseret News described Mr. Collins as an affable instructor who was qualified to teach any of the sciences and they expressed their confidence in his ability to “give great satisfaction to his patrons” (Regency 1850).

Despite this confidence, Dr. Collins’ employment at the University of Deseret remained short, lasting only one quarter. According to the University’s 1851 ledger, the Regents paid him $250, which he then donated in the form of two stoves. As the Regents indicated in their advertisement, Collins appeared to be a qualified educator because after he left the University of Deseret he continued to pursue an educational career in California. Newspaper records indicated that Collins started the Stockton Female Seminary and was later elected superintendent of San Joaquin County Schools in 1861 (Stockton Daily Independent 1861) (Tinkham 1880).

Meeting minutes and later commentaries showed that the students and the Regents were not impressed with Mr. Collins. At the end of the first quarter, Regent Ezra Benson and newly selected Regent Wilford Woodruff, who had also enrolled in Collins’ classes, expressed concern over Dr. Collins’ ability to respect “the powers that be” and said that the professor had “neglected his duties” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7, Feb. 4 1851 meeting). Chancellor Orson Spencer, Regent Samuel Richards and Lt. Governor Heber Kimball reported that the students (all adult men) complained that Collins “did not take such books as the Scholars [students] introduced” and that all parties were displeased with his punctuality (ibid., Feb. 3, 1851 meeting). The minutes did not specifically reference any outright disputes over curriculum, but it was possible that the firing of the first professor may have also been the University’s first battle over academic freedom. It was also a battle quickly lost by the first professor as the Regents refused to renew his contract and he continued west to California.

Although the minutes of the Regents’ meetings did not list the textbooks which Dr. Collins used, Levi Edgar Young’s “The Founding of Utah” indicated that copies of Lindley Murray English Readers were available for purchase from the Livingston and Kinkead merchant supplies that were also located in the Pack home that first quarter (323). James T. Jakeman in “Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and their Mothers” also stated that the “old Murray series of readers were used as texts [in the first school] along with the Bible and copies of various other books” (9).

Lindley Murray English Readers included sections on poetry, prose, piety, virtue, and principles of good reading. The text also used pieces on gratitude, forgiveness, comforts of religion, omniscience and omnipresence of the deity, immortality of the soul, and the creation. Figure 4 shows a selected portion of the contents of an 1835 version of the reader. It was possible that the adult male students as well as the Regents were displeased with the selection of the Murray reader because it included non-Mormon theological concepts. Given Regent Carrington’s March 1850 assignment to write the Smithsonian for scientific implements, perhaps the Regents and students anticipated that a university education would focus solely on highly practical, non-religious subjects. Another possibility could be that the larger community preferred that a university education be delegated only to religious leaders despite the fact that Governor Young and most of the other Regents seemed willing to trust the education of early Utah residents to a ‘stranger.’

If it is accurate that the students and other early Utah residents were inclined to receive instruction only from religious leaders because only one of their men of God would know the boundaries of practical knowledge and permit sufficient space for Mormon theology to fill the vacuum, the Regents appeared to cater to this demand by firing Collins. Furthermore, the Regents changed the course of the University by limiting the next quarter’s curriculum to arithmetic, geography, grammar, and speech. They also appointed Chancellor Orson Spencer and Regent William Phelps as the professors. The community appeared to approve the change because the editor of the Deseret News chimed in by noting:

Chancellor Spencer and Regent Phelps are too well known in the community to need any encomiums from our pen, and if there are any ignorant of their capacity as teachers, we would recommend such to put themselves under their tuition….and our prayer to God is that the same celestial influence may ever be continued and diffused through all the schools in Deseret (Richards 1851).


Figure 4. Lindley Murray’s English Reader, selected contents, 1835 (Courtesy of Internet Archive)

Classes moved from John Pack’s home on West Temple to the Council House located on the southwest corner of South Temple and Main Street. By the third quarter, Regent Orson Pratt joined Orson Spencer and William Phelps as the University’s professors. Ledgers do not indicate any payments to them for their teaching. After the first quarter, tuition was reduced to $5 with only half required up front and the school was open to both men and women.

The regent-professors taught for the next three terms until the school closed in 1852 when Orson Spencer left the Utah territory for LDS missionary work in Prussia. The 1852-1853 legislative report also cited the following as reasons for closing the University: departure of three regents with no replacements, lack of funding to pay regents and professors, and no central building.

Regency meetings continued from 1854 to 1867 despite the closing of the University, but discussion of the University stopped. The meeting minutes indicated that their primary focus and motivation was to complete the mission that Governor Young had tasked them with early on to refine and print the new Deseret Alphabet to reform phonetics and aid in efficient and timely learning. Efforts to establish statehood, not to mention the Utah War of 1857-58, would also distract the Regents from their mission to create a university, especially since many of the Regents also held roles in territorial and church leadership.


As abruptly as the Regents’ discussion of the University ended in 1852, they began again in 1867 without any mention of why they rededicated themselves to the task of creating a university. When they reunited on the subject, the mission seemed to have shifted from the training of teachers to the formation of a commercial college (business school) to be run by David Calder. But by 1869 the Regents, all new except for Chancellor Daniel Wells (and all LDS), had rededicated themselves to the mission of a more traditional university devoted to classical courses of study.

For the first time, the Regents also delegated some of their administrative powers outside their insular circle when they voted in March of 1869 to hire John R. Park as the new University President. Dr. Park had moved to Utah in 1861 and was a later member of the LDS Quorum of the Seventy. He was born in Ohio and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1853 and the Bellevue Hospital Medical College in 1857. The Regents wanted Park to broaden the curriculum and grow the student body. They directed Park to include new courses in liberal arts with the creation of classes in foreign languages, literature, philosophy and history which were to be taught alongside the “normal course of study” for the training of common school teachers (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7, Mar. 10 1869 meeting). According to Park’s journal, a spring term was held starting March 8, 1869 in the Council House with eighty-four enrolled students and him serving as Principal/President (Park 1869).

It remained unclear what motivated the Regents to broaden the course of study, delegate administrative powers, and approve the funding for the hiring of multiple ‘strangers’ to serve as early professors. The territory was able to add new sources of revenue when in 1867 Congress agreed to allow the Territorial Assembly to sell lands for the purpose of funding the University and public education (Moffitt 1946). By 1875, the University also had competition with a certain school from down south. Brigham Young, stripped of his authority as territorial governor in 1858, but still entrenched as the prophet and leader of the church, privately purchased the Timpanogos Branch of the commercial school established there in 1870. He renamed the school the Brigham Young Academy and it became the early precursor to Brigham Young University, the private higher educational institution which is still owned and operated by the LDS Church (ibid.,185).

University Administration via the University President

The minutes distinctly indicated that the Regents expected President Park to oversee growth of the University of Utah. They charged him not only with the task of broadening the curriculum but finding a way to pay for the costs by directing him to print a catalog, advertise tuition rates, and procure donations. The University’s operations may have been a little more robust than a mere commercial college because Park’s August 1869 catalog listed the following class offerings: natural history, math, chemistry, metallurgy, astronomy, moral science, ancient & modern languages, literature, drawing, penmanship, music, phonography, telegraphy, and commerce. It also listed a total of 223 students (120 men and 103 women) and four courses of study/majors: classical, normal, commercial, and preparatory. Classical was the most expensive at $20 per term, preparatory the cheapest at $8 per term and normal and commercial in the middle at $15 per term.

The catalog listed the names of the faculty and gave them the title of either professor or instructor. It listed six professors: John Park, Orson Pratt (former Regent and Chancellor), Bernhard Bergman, William Riess, Louis Moench, Harmal Pratt and four instructors: W. D. Johnson, Joseph Rawlins, Volney King, M. H. Hardy.[4] While the catalog distinguished between professor and instructor, the Regents had not yet codified rules for ranks or promotions and at that time they still appeared to have been heavily involved in the hiring process. However, at the urging of the new president, they sought to address this during their March 1871 meeting by appointing a committee of three to draft “rules prescribing the duties and powers of the Professors of the D.U. [Deseret University]” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7, typescript minutes, 26) but it would take nearly twenty years for a full set of faculty bylaws to surface.

When the Regents voted to retain Dr. Park in 1872 as both president and professor of advanced subjects, he requested a clearer definition of his role in relation to the Regents and of the University’s future. In response, Chancellor Daniel Wells said he wanted Park to “get all the pupils he could and grade them and hire teachers as they might be needed” (ibid., 28). This was the first time the Regents made a specific definition of the role of University President. Park requested that the Regents expand the University administration through the creation of committees whose members, though appointed and governed by the Regents, would take over other administrative powers previously held by the Regents: University finance, instruction and textbooks, buildings and supplies, teachers and salaries, and examination.

The Faculty as a Unified Professional Body

As a way of uniting the professors and to share in the general management of the institution, Dr. Park organized half of the professors into a faculty in March 1885. He selected those “with knowledge, experience, and special lines of duty” naming the following, including himself: Joseph B. Toronto, Joseph T. Kingsbury, Orson Howard, John H. Paul, and Henry C. White (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7, Mar 28 1885 meeting). This group represented six of the twelve faculty members.

Dr. Park also organized regular faculty meetings. The first items discussed at faculty meetings included courses of instruction, unity in work, economy of time, and the individual character of students. They met every two weeks and appointed the museum curator (Orson Howard), the librarian (Joseph Toronto), the secretary of the faculty (J. H. Paul), and the registrar (Joseph Toronto). The faculty considered petitions from students, discussed new courses of study, new classes to add to existing courses of study, textbooks, graduation, what time classes started, and what constituted tardiness.

The faculty established their own committees as well—one to create a motto and emblem, one on courses of study, one for the library, one for graduation, and a committee on publication, which created a subscription paper called “The Lantern,” later turning into The Utah Chronicle. In essence, the professors oversaw day-to-day operations of the school and at times it seemed their efforts closely mirrored, even duplicated that of the Regents—such as the committees on instruction, the library, and a motto/emblem. According to the annual catalogs from 1885 to 1894, “the immediate government and discipline of the school [rested] with the faculty” (University of Deseret 1883-1894). This, perhaps, led to parallel efforts and a desire on the part of the Regents to meet directly with faculty.

Based on meeting minutes, the Regents rarely met with faculty, but they expressed interest in the summer of 1887 “to investigate if any differences [existed] detrimental to the interest of the University, and to take such steps in the matter as they may deem necessary for the welfare of the students, and for the character and reputation of the University” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7, July 9 1887 meeting). Even though there are no records of when this meeting happened or how discussions went, it indicated that the University and the role of the faculty was growing and changing. At the same time, the Regents continued to build on and clarify the role of the president by making Dr. Park the first department chair in 1888. The department was simply called Instruction. His duties included supervising all professors, teachers, and staff and “to carry out the express instructions of the Board” (ibid., Jan. 5 1888 meeting).

The Regents elected Dr. Park as President of the Faculty in 1890 making him an honorary member of the Board, Secretary of the Board, President of the University, President of the Faculty, Department Chair of Instruction, and Professor. This represented the clarification that Park had asked for a decade earlier—a distinction between his role and the Regents. This was also the first time the Regents separated the role of University President and President of the Faculty:

The president of the Faculty shall have the general direction and supervision of instruction, and of the grounds and buildings. He shall select and recommend for employment teachers, a librarian, curator, custodian, registrar, janitor, and such instructors and employees as may be necessary and prescribe the duties of each within the limits of his employment, and make rules and regulations for the conduct, deportment, and discipline of pupils; and, when requested, consult with the Board or any of its committees in regard to the business and offices of the University (ibid).

The faculty developed their own bylaws around the same time on October 23, 1890 (University of Utah Faculty 1885-1966, Box 2, 30). By 1892, faculty meetings were utilized to review student applications and determine admissions. They also developed rules for government and discipline of students (ibid., 120). Rules regarding voting rights at faculty meetings emerged in 1893 when Acting President Joseph T. Kingsbury established ranks: professor, assistant professor, and teacher. Assistant professors and teachers could attend faculty meetings and participate in discussions, but they did not have a vote.

In the course of drafting 1890 bylaws, the Regents discontinued their committee on instruction and textbooks opening the door for shared governance with the faculty. The Regents also discontinued the Visiting Committee used to occasionally monitor professors and instead created the Advisory Committee with a clarification that the committee “was not intended to restrict the power or authority of the President of the University, but to assist and strengthen him in that position” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 7, Apr 5 1890 meeting).

Helping to organize a university is no easy task and Dr. Park’s contributions to establishing the administrative structure of the University of Utah cannot be understated. Without his influence, the University would have made slower progress toward a rigorous curriculum and a well-functioning institution. Nor would it have the library it does since Dr. Park bequeathed his entire collection to the University upon his death in 1900.

From the time Park defined the faculty in 1885 and Acting President Kingsbury established ranks in 1893, various terms and categories have been used to describe the faculty in University history: The Faculty, Officers of Instruction, Officers of the University, Regular Faculty, Teaching Faculty, Research Faculty, Library Faculty, Adjunct, Auxiliary, Visiting, Clinical, Tenure Track, Lecturer. There have been groups included in the faculty–teachers at the University Normal School, administrators with faculty rank, researchers at the Engineering Experiment Station, and athletic coaches.

Presently, the University of Utah utilizes the following categories to define and organize the faculty: Tenure-Line Faculty, Career-Line Faculty, and Adjunct, Visiting, and Emeritus Faculty. The membership of the Academic Senate today reflects these categories by drawing from both the tenure-line and career-line categories. While definitions and terminology have changed, a set of core rights and responsibilities has remained. These are best described in the current Faculty Code of Conduct (U of U Policy 6-316):

Academic Rights of Faculty Members

    1. Faculty members have the legal rights and privileges of citizens. They may not be subject to punishment or reprisal for the exercise of such rights and privileges.
    2. Faculty members have the right to academic freedom and the right to examine and communicate ideas by any lawful means even should such activities generate hostility or pressures against the faculty member or the university. Their constitutionally protected exercise of freedom of association, assembly, and expression, including participation in political activities, does not constitute a violation of duties to the university, to their profession, or to students.
    3. Where their rank and status are appropriate, faculty members have the right to vote on faculty appointments, promotions, and tenure, and to vote for representatives to college and university legislative bodies.
    4. Faculty members have a right to due process and peer judgment in any disciplinary matter involving the possibility of substantial sanctions. This includes a right to be heard, a right to decision and review by impartial persons or bodies, and a right to adequate notice. The Consolidated Hearing Committee is the appropriate body to hear charges of a violation of this Code of Faculty Responsibility, unless some other hearing body is specified in this Code.
    5. Faculty members have a right to support and assistance from the university in maintaining a climate suitable for scholarship, research, and effective teaching and learning. Faculty members are entitled to an academic environment free from violence or systematic disruption, and to a teaching environment adequately equipped for meeting the teaching mission of the university.
    6. Consistent with state law, faculty members have a right to university support in professional activities inside and outside the classroom, both on and off campus, both in defense of academic freedom, and in defense of any resulting litigation, including funds for legal assistance. Professional activities are those described or required by each Department’s RPT and/or financial compensation criteria.
    7. Faculty members have a right to assistance from the university in improving their skills and developing their talents as teachers and scholars.
    8. Faculty members have a right to fair and equitable financial remuneration commensurate with their rank, duties, performance, and professional stature.
    9. The above list of rights is not exhaustive. Other rights, such as the faculty’s right to a meaningful role in the governance of the university, including primary responsibility for course content and materials, degree requirements, and curriculum, are found in the Policies and Procedures Manual.

Ethical Canons

    1. The Basic Aspiration. A faculty member is primarily a teacher and a scholar. Above all the single overriding canon is: to strive for excellence and to inspire excellence in others.
    2. Duties to Students. University teaching should reflect consideration for the dignity of students and their rights as persons. Students as well as faculty are entitled to academic freedom and autonomy in their intellectual pursuits and development. Teachers must therefore treat students with courtesy and respect. They must not require students to accept their personal beliefs or opinions and must strive in the classroom to maintain a climate conducive to thinking and learning. They must not misuse their position, authority, or relationship with students.
    3. Professional Obligations. Faculty members should seek knowledge and value the pursuit of truth. They should strive to contribute to their discipline, and should support and encourage the efforts of others. Faculty members should maintain and improve their effectiveness as teachers and scholars.
    4. Obligations to the University. A faculty member’s position is one of trust and responsibility to the university and the students, faculty, and staff who constitute the university community. Faculty members should merit such trust and responsibility by devoted service. They should strive to maintain and improve the academic quality of their department, college, and the university. When called upon to serve in administrative posts or on committees, faculty members should strive to achieve the legitimate purposes of the university with due consideration for the interests of other persons involved.


[3] A special thanks to U of U philosophy professor Ben Crowe for first pointing out the Book of Isaiah connection.

[4] There is a mismatch between the Regents’ minutes and the University’s 1869-1870 catalog. While the minutes reflected that the Regents only offered contracts to a total of three professors—John Park, Joseph Toronto and Joseph Kingsbury—the catalog listed five professors plus nine instructors. This could possibly illustrate an increased independent role of the University President: hiring professors on a short-term, as needed basis.

Chapter Two: A Collision of Rights

President Park made significant progress towards establishing the powers of the nascent central administration and defining the role of faculty. Park and his successor Joseph T. Kingsbury (selected in 1897) helped draft rules, organize meetings, and clarify matters such as rank, pay, and lines of communication for faculty. While the Regents had diversified in terms of religious affiliation by the early 1900s,[5] their stipulated role to serve as “fathers and guardians” of the institution had not changed. They focused much of their attention in the early decade on lobbying the legislature for a consistent source of funding. Rather than annual appropriations, the Regents successfully developed “The Mill Tax Plan” in 1906 to facilitate University growth and planning, which passed during the 1911 legislative session (Chamberlin 1960, 245). The University received $170,539 from the state that year and $16,160 from tuition and fees (ibid.) and the University grew. It started a new law school, a new medical school, and the number of faculty and enrolled students tripled between 1900 and 1915 (Chamberlin 1960, 245 and 255).

The University’s growth and maturity, as evidenced by a stronger central administration, gave its new faculty certain expectations. The faculty directly petitioned the Regents for raises in 1904 citing cost of living, salaries of other occupations, and faculty workload. The Regents increased salaries by ten percent. The faculty must have also directly petitioned President Kingsbury because he followed up with another salary request in 1906. Kingsbury also petitioned for “leaves of absence” for faculty “for the purpose of self improvement and gathering information that will better fit [them] for work in the University” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 6). President Kingsbury proposed granting leaves after ten years of employment (the term ‘sabbatical’ was not used in the minutes). The Regents denied Kingsbury’s salary request so the faculty submitted another direct petition in November 1906.

While it was not apparent whether the second request for raises was granted or denied, it appeared that the faculty still felt concerned about compensation and professional development and apparently at odds with Kingsbury. Kingsbury was born and raised in Utah, attended the University of Deseret, and did graduate work at Illinois Wesleyan University before joining the faculty at the University of Utah in 1878. The Utah Chronicle described President Kingsbury’s leadership style as “conciliatory” (University of Utah Chronicle 1915). It was not clear from the minutes or from Kingsbury’s papers what his relationship was like with the faculty, but given the fact that the faculty twice petitioned the Regents directly, it was possible that many of them saw him as too much of a local who might have a difficult time disagreeing with those he may have affiliated with as a former student, early professor, or fellow Mormon. It may also be likely that the professors remained unaware that the bylaws indicated only the President was permitted to communicate with the Regents.

After yet another discussion about raises on April 8, 1907, Kingsbury expressed concern about outside remunerative work and asked the Regents to set up rules and regulations. The Regents formed a committee to suggest “rules that should govern in the employment of teachers […] and to draft a form of contract between the University and its employees” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, Box 6, Apr 8 1907 meeting).

An employment contract was in place by April 24, 1907. The minutes did not include a copy of the contract; however, it appeared that the contract banned outside work because at the May 9, 1907 Regents meeting several professors appeared and asked for permission to continue outside work for entities such as the YMCA and the State Board of Education. One professor asked for permission to conduct engineering work outside the institution, but the Regents denied the request and reminded the professor that he signed a contract accepting the conditions. He appealed, but was again denied with the Regents voting to remind him “if he desires at any time to do outside work, he is to apply to President Kingsbury for permission to do so” (ibid.). A professor of anatomy resigned because he “could not accept the position […] under the requirements of the Board” (ibid.) Neither could former University President James E. Talmage (1894-1897) stating that he “did not work for the Regents” since he was an endowed professor. The Regents disagreed stating the rules applied to all employees including endowed positions. At the September 5, 1907 meeting the Regents replaced Talmage with Professor Fred James Pack.

The faculty again petitioned the Regents in January 1910 asking for raises and suggesting a formal schedule of salaries. The petition included work expectations: “not more than 15 hours of recitation, lecture or lab work per week” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm). The faculty cited the increase in the number of professors with PhDs (a 7% increase since 1900) and pointed to a Salt Lake Herald-Republican editorial which argued for the necessity of outside work so that professors could “make ends meet” noting that Utah was below the middle compared to other western universities in terms of pay (ibid.).

The Regents did not respond to any of the direct faculty petitions. President Kingsbury further complicated matters in 1910 when he banned professors from running for political office. He offered no explanation other than a reference to the new employment contract and its stated restrictions on outside work (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm).

Soon after requiring an employment contract and not responding to the various salary requests, the Regents mandated that all faculty undergo tuberculosis testing, covering the costs themselves, and only allowing them to see a Regent-approved physician. One professor—Maud May Babcock—objected to this on grounds that only male physicians were listed and she preferred a female physician, but the Regents denied her request (ibid.).

Further Unrest: Tenure, Faculty Firings, and Free Speech

On November 1, 1913, the Regents received a statement signed by forty-seven faculty members “setting forth certain reasons for the feeling of unrest which seems to exist at the University, and asking that the Board of Regents take under consideration the questions of, (1) The tenure of office of University teachers, and (2) The nature of the relationship that should exist between the teachers and the University“ (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm). Like previous petitions, the Regents did not discuss the matter at the December 8, 1913 or January 26, 1914 meetings. It was tabled indefinitely during the February 5, 1914 meeting.

On October 29, 1914, students had invited a speaker (only referred to as Mr. Evans) to talk about the nature of politics in Utah. According to the Utah Chronicle, Kingsbury and the Regents interpreted the invitation and speech as an “attempt of political leaders to induce students to vote the Democratic ticket” (University of Utah Chronicle 1914).

Concerns reached a pinnacle in early 1915 when President Kingsbury sent letters to four professors stating their contracts would not be renewed and demoting another professor. The professors included Ansel A. Knowlton, Associate Professor of Physics; George Chester Wise, Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Secretary of the Faculty; Charles Wilbert Snow, Instructor in English and Phil Carleton Bing, Instructor in English. Initially, the President provided little explanation and did not allow for discussion, hearings, or statements; his only rationale being that his decision was good for the University. Word got out and several newspaper articles on the issue appeared by the end of February 1915 (University of Utah President’s Office 1893-1915, Box 6).

Soon after the newspapers reported the event, the Regents held an executive committee meeting to discuss “the situation arising from the statements that four members of the faculty will not be recommended for re-employment” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm). The minutes did not reflect discussion about reasons for the dismissals other than agreeing with President Kingsbury to not re-employ the professors.

By the middle of March, newspaper articles appeared daily in local papers. In response, the Regents issued a lengthy public statement in the Salt Lake Herald Republican (March 18, 1915) where President Kingsbury finally stated his reasons for not renewing contracts for Professors Knowlton and Wise: working against the administration, speaking poorly of the Chairman of the Board, espousing a negative view of the University to students, and being disloyal to the President of the University. With regard to Professors Snow and Bing, Kingsbury cited department re-organization as the primary reason for dismissal.

The Regents offered their own response in the Herald-Republican: “It is argued to the board that professors and instructors should have the right of free thought, free speech and free action. This cannot be and is not the question. The board, however, has the same rights. These privileges are reciprocal. When the rights of the two clash then it is for the board to determine which is right and which course serves, or is inimical to, the best interests of the university. Someone must have the right and responsibility to decide such matters and the law has vested it in the board” (University of Utah President’s Office 1893-1915, Box 6).

Despite demands from faculty, students, the Alumni Association, and the Salt Lake Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Regents refused to conduct an investigation. This prompted fourteen professors (roughly 20% of the faculty) to resign in protest, including the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Byron Cummings. A portion of his published statement in the March 19, 1915 Salt Lake Telegram described his reasoning:

Unless the University of Utah is to be a place where men and women are to deal frankly and openly with each other and where the young men and women of the state are to be taught to think and act for themselves and have a respected voice and part in the affairs of the institution, I do not see how we are going to train them to be self respecting, independent and capable citizens of a commonwealth. An education that is less than this has no right to be called higher education and I desire no share in the promotion.

Students held a rally and a mock funeral on campus to show their support and approximately 300 students (25% of the student body) said they would not return the next year if the fourteen professors resigned. The Regents responded by creating the Regents’ Faculty Relations Committee as a way of establishing good will with the fourteen professors. The professors, however, were not swayed and many left to other universities: University of Arizona, University of Minnesota, Reed College, Fargo College, Westminster College in Colorado, University of Southern California, and the University of Iowa (University of Utah Chronicle 1915). One of the originally fired professors—Professor Snow—went on to become a Democratic Governor of Connecticut in 1946.

President Kingsbury accepted the resignations of the fourteen professors on March 20, 1915. The Alumni Association continued to push for an investigation and created a committee of twenty-five to oversee the process. They asked for cooperation of the Regents on April 13, 1915, but the Regents declined saying that their solution had been to establish the new Regents’ Faculty Relations Committee. They also posed the rhetorical question of who actually ran the University—the Regents, the faculty, or the students (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm).

The First Academic Senate at the University of Utah

Information about the Regents’ Faculty Relations Committee was discussed at the April 5, 1915 faculty meeting where Kingsbury appointed seven professors to discuss ideas about a “plan of administration.” This “Committee of Seven” recommended the creation of an Administrative Council to “determine all matters relating to the educational policy and administration of the University; apportionment of funds among schools and departments, the division of courses between departments, the removal or the appointment of a head of a department, promotions of Faculty members, departures from the salary schedule, the removal of a member of the Faculty by failure to recommend or otherwise, and such other matters as may be referred to it by the President or the Faculty” (University of Utah Administrative Council 1915, 3). The Council was to consist of the President, Deans, and five elected members from the faculty. The faculty also voted to create a Nominating Committee to work with the President “in the selection of men to fill the positions of the resigning fourteen members” (ibid.).

The first elected members of the Administrative Council included George Fellows (History and Political Science), Osborne Widtsoe (English), and Andrew Anderson (Ancient Languages and Literature). Elections occurred by secret ballot during the April 1915 meeting of all eighty faculty. The newly elected members of the Nominating Committee supplemented the three professors to form the full Administrative Council: James Lambert Gibson (Mathematics), George Coray (Economics and Sociology), Fred James Pack (Geology), Frederick Reynolds (Extension and English), and Levi Young (History and Archaeology). The Regents’ Faculty Relations Committee accepted the newly formed Council and the plan.

American Association of University Professors Investigates

Arthur O. Lovejoy, the philosopher from Johns Hopkins University and Secretary of the newly formed American Association of University Professors (AAUP) read about the fourteen faculty resignations in the New York Evening Post while on the train from Baltimore to New York City in early April 1915. Once he arrived in New York, Dr. Lovejoy went directly to the home of AAUP President and Columbia University professor John Dewey and explained the contents of the Evening Post editorial. They decided “it was up to us” to investigate. AAUP had no funds at the time so Professor Dewey agreed to personally pay the expense of Dr. Lovejoy’s rail fare to Salt Lake City. Dewey went to the bank the next morning and presented Lovejoy with $300 (worth approximately $7,000 in today’s dollars) and he was on the train by the evening (Metzger 1961, 207).

Dr. Lovejoy sent the Regents a telegram upon arriving in Salt Lake City and they invited him to their April 8, 1915 meeting where they had congenial discussions. Dr. Lovejoy informed the Regents that other institutions—Stanford and Johns Hopkins—struggled with similar matters of university governance. He tried to put a positive spin on the issue by saying the current situation could “result in placing the University of Utah in the forefront of those institutions in which the Faculty is given a voice in the administrative affairs” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm, Apr 8 1915 meeting). Dr. Lovejoy then presented them with questions to address as part of his investigation. The Regents agreed to respond separately in due time.

On April 17, 1915, the Regents responded by registered mail to Dr. Lovejoy’s questions. The first two questions had to do with continuous reappointment and expectations or presumptions on the part of the faculty. The Regents responded by saying there was no rule in place; rather, an understanding existed that continuous reappointment occurred after a “number of years of satisfactory service” and referred to the last salary and rank schedule published in 1902 (ibid.). They further explained their practice: “professors are nominated by the President of the University after consultation with heads of departments, the deans and the appropriate Regents’ committee, and are confirmed or appointed by the Board of Regents” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm, Apr 8 1915 meeting). The report noted that “professors under the law can be engaged for one year only [and under Utah statute] all contracts with professors, etc., may be terminated at any time at the will of the Board whether such contract is for a definite or for an indefinite period” (ibid.). The Regents referenced the fact that in “nearly forty years only eight professors have failed re-nomination, and of these, four failed because of friction between the professors themselves making it imperative that the University should dispense with the service of one or both of the disputants” (ibid.).

The Regents reiterated their understanding that “they may at any time refuse to reappoint a professor, without specific charges against him, [and] without a hearing” (ibid) and quoted 1907 Utah code: “All contracts hereafter made with professors, instructors, or employees, whether for a definite time or indefinite time, shall be subject to termination at the will of the Board, or of its executive committee, if the Board be not in session, when the interests of the University so require.” They also reiterated that they had never exercised this right.

The next set of questions had to do with the Regents’ relationship with the President as it pertained to faculty nominations. Dr. Lovejoy wanted an explanation about how much power Kingsbury had and cited Kingsbury’s statement that he would offer his resignation if the Board wanted to go against his wishes to not retain Professors Knowlton and Wise. The Regents claimed that specific names were not known at the initial March 1915 meeting where Kingsbury announced that he had refused to extend the contracts of the four professors.

Dr. Lovejoy also asked about conditions of employment at the University and asked if expectations of employment disallowed faculty from speaking unfavorably of the University in private and prohibited them from expressing opinions to students on the educational standing of the institution. The Regents said these were not conditions of employment and took offense to Dr. Lovejoy’s statement that “the board none the less, by adopting the President’s recommendations, which he declared to be based on these reasons, permitted him to terminate a professor’s connection with the University wholly or partly upon grounds which the Board does not regard as proper grounds for such action” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm).

Lovejoy’s investigation underscores the fact that Utah’s first nationally prominent incident involving the University related to freedom of speech, expression, and association, not religion. A prominent example of a religious freedom case was the Thomas Cooper case of 1831. Thomas Cooper served as president of South Carolina College where the legislature and people of South Carolina were involved in removing him as president because he “assailed the religious views of a large portion of the people and thus damaged the college […], interfered with the religious opinions of the students, taught them doctrines offensive to parents and guardians, and […] sneered at the observance of the Sabbath, at public prayers, and at certain religious sects” (Hofstadter and Walter P. Metzger 1955, 265-266).

The Cooper case resulted in South Carolina requiring a religious test for college presidents, but that was never the circumstance in Utah. Rather, Utah law expressly prohibited a religious test for teachers, professors, college presidents, and board members. Given the close relationship between academic freedom and civil and religious liberties, perhaps the Mormon tradition had an influence. One of the stated purposes of the LDS High Council that helped establish both the State of Deseret and the University of Utah was the “maintenance, promulgation and protection of civil & religious liberty in this nation and throughout the world […]” (Quinn 1980, 7). Furthermore, as noted in the previous chapter, the University’s first professor Cyrus Collins may not have been renewed after the first quarter in 1850 because he was a “stranger” who used unapproved textbooks, his termination was most likely a result of the Regency’s desire for efficient and rapid learning based strictly on science and philosophy and not solely for religious reasons.

A New President and Published Regulations

Kingsbury stayed on as President through the end of 1915 and utilized the newly established Nominating Committee to approve his recommendations for faculty continuing appointment before they went to the Regents. That summer the Alumni Association had continued to push the matter and adopted a resolution on June 1, 1915 calling “upon the President and a controlling majority of the Board of Regents to resign forthwith” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm).

President Kingsbury resigned on January 20, 1916. The Regents accepted his resignation, granted him a one-year, paid vacation, and established a special committee to find the next president. They selected Dr. John A. Widtsoe, but not without controversy—four Regents voted against the nomination saying they had not properly interviewed candidates nor consulted all the Regents.

One of the first items President Widtsoe brought before the Regents was the compilation of possible “University rules and regulations of government.” The University’s “Laws and Regulations” were quickly adopted at the March 15, 1916 Regents meeting and ordered to be bound and distributed. At the faculty’s urging, the rules were amended to include the President of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) as an ex-officio member of the newly formed Administrative Council.

The rules more fully spelled out in a preamble who was in charge of the University. The University “belonged” to the people of Utah who controlled it through laws passed by the legislative assembly and via legislative appropriations. The 1916 Laws and Regulations placed the Board of Regents as final decision-approvers instead of initial policy makers. They also listed duties of university staff, the president, deans, faculty, committees, and councils and described the Administrative Council as the “direct medium of communication between the University Faculty and the Board of Regents […] to maintain a friendly understanding between the Faculty and the Board of Regents and thereby to secure more completely the rights of Faculty members and of the Regents” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm)

The Beginning of Tenure with Merit, Loyalty, Efficiency Codified

Most significantly, the newly published rules included a chapter called “Method of Appointments and Tenure of Office,” which applied to all University staff, not just teachers and professors. The terms specified that the Regents made all appointments upon the nomination of the President and were based on the merits of the individual “with respect to the special fitness […] for the work demanded in the position” (University of Utah Board of Regents 1850-1969, microfilm). The terms ensured that the Regents would not remove employees without a hearing and clarified that employment was subject to law and the new University Regulations.

Probationary periods lasted three years and required satisfactory service to be considered a permanent employee, provided the job was still needed and there were funds to pay for the position. The new regulations also included descriptions of vacation time, leaves of absence, outside work, hours of work required, a salary schedule for professors, and an exclusion from the university for “teachers, students, or employees infected with pulmonary tuberculosis” (ibid.).

Special Rules for Professors

Unlike staff positions, nominations for professors originated with a committee rather than a direct nomination from the President to the Regents. The committee included the department chair, the university president, and, when applicable, the relevant school dean. When nominating the president of the University, the committee consisted of the Regents and three faculty members.

While the three-year probationary period applied to all University employees, the frequency of evaluations after receiving tenure differed for professors—appointments without review lasted two years instead of one.

The 1916 Regulations also focused on duties and privileges of all University staff. The primary duties of employees included “loyal and efficient service to the University, and therefore to the State and its people together with a law-abiding and moral mode of life…” (ibid.). Disloyalty, inefficiency, lawlessness, immorality, and failure to abide by University regulations served as causes for dismissal from the University, somewhat mirroring the terminology Regents used in deliberating on whether or not to renew Cyrus Collins’ appointment in 1851.

Academic Freedom and Tenure

Academic freedom is mentioned for the first time in the 1916 University Regulations with a brief statement in a dedicated section: “Academic freedom in the pursuit and teaching of knowledge shall be maintained in the University of Utah” (ibid). While Utah statute was silent on both tenure and academic freedom in 1907, 1917, and 1933, other states like Massachusetts and New Jersey had formal laws to assure tenure (Shannahan 1973). The District of Columbia established regulations for city schools and districts in 1906 and by 1925, California, Oregon, Montana, Illinois, New York, Maryland, and Colorado had tenure-related legislation.

In 1973, the Utah System of Higher Education established a state-wide tenure policy “to protect the academic freedom of faculty” and stipulated termination as “only for cause, bona fide program or unit discontinuance […], or bona fide financial exigency […], and as specified in institutional policies and rules” and is currently in effect (Utah System of Higher Education 1973, 2). In accord with this policy, academic freedom applies to both tenure-line and career-line faculty and extends to freedom in teaching, research, and public life. Reasons for dismissing a faculty member for cause include professional incompetence, serious misconduct, serious violations of board or institutional regulations, and “substantially impaired performance for medical reasons for which accommodations have not been successful” (ibid.).


[5] These changes were based on appointments made by Democratic Territorial Governors Arthur L. Thomas and Caleb West in the late 19th century. Between 1900 and 1920, more than half of the Regents had come from a non-Mormon background with over one-third serving as businessmen or bankers in the community (Pugsley 1984).

Chapter Three: 100 Years of Growth and Evolution

The Academic Senate has grown in number from five professors to over one hundred members. In the process, the Senate broadened its representation from those involved in teaching to those involved in all areas of academic work: students, clinicians, librarians, deans, and researchers. The various names the Senate has been called reflect these advances, from Administrative Council to Faculty Council then from University Senate to Academic Senate. A common theme throughout the development of the Senate is the desire of students and faculty to have a say in how the University operates, from students wanting to evaluate professors and influence campus culture to faculty desiring to affect budget and hiring decisions.

The first version of the Senate—the Administrative Council—focused on both campus culture and faculty hiring. The Council established a Nominating Committee to help advise the President regarding which faculty to retain and hire. The Administrative Council also worked with the Regents’ Faculty Relations Committee to update regulations allowing students to “form and maintain orderly, dignified discussions of any and all questions of current interest to intelligent citizens” (University of Utah Administrative Council 1915) and expand the ex-officio membership to include the ASUU President. A year into the Administrative Council’s new role, the group conducted a faculty review to determine whether a professor should be fired. The hearing resulted in the professor deciding to resign. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the Council discussed tenure and promotion standards and the best way of organizing the University.

With the growth of the University in the 1940s and 1950s, Council membership increased to forty faculty and the name was changed to Faculty Council. All colleges/areas had some representation, but the basis of apportionment and election procedures had not yet been established. The Faculty Council’s order of business and the committee structure served as the foundation for the current Academic Senate. See Appendix I, Senate Structures from 1915-2015 for a more detailed overview.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Faculty Council focused on implementing student evaluation of professors, enhancing the promotion policy, and improving “inefficient meetings” (University of Utah Faculty Council 1947-1970, Mar 2 1955 meeting). By 1964, apportionment was based on student credit hours and the Council grew to fifty faculty across fifteen colleges/areas without regard to rank. Student representatives were added as non-voting members in 1968. The Council also moved to have an elected chair. Up until then, the default presiding officer had been either the University President or the Academic Vice President. The motion went as far as saying that the chair should be a non-administrative member of the faculty, but the idea failed during debate. This question of having an elected chair and whether the presiding officer should be an administrator became a central and on-going debate for nearly two decades. In fact, the Senate did not reach consensus on the matter until 1992.

In 1969, Utah passed the Utah Higher Education Act which established the State Board of Regents and institutional Boards of Trustees. The Faculty Council responded to the Act by making modifications. The Council changed its name to University Senate and formed College Councils. The most significant work done by the University Senate in this period included the Code of Faculty Conduct. The Act had replaced the previous employment contract initiated by the Regents in 1907 and required all Utah higher education institutions to develop their own rules and standards for faculty. It took the Senate two years to draft and debate the code, from 1971-1973.

The faculty code consisted of seven sections and the preamble indicated that “the rules are intended as minimal standards of behavior designed to assure fair and reasonable disposition of rare and episodic occurrences of faculty misconduct” and violations would result in sanctions. In a rare instance of clarity and unanimity in the Senate, the basic aspiration that everyone agreed on was “to be excellent and inspire excellence in others” (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present).

The rules section of the Faculty Code included “Duties to Students,” “Professional Obligation,” and “Obligations to the University.” Sanctionable violations included failure to meet scheduled classes without prior notice and without a valid excuse; not keeping regular office hours; failure to give reasonable notice of general course content and criteria for evaluation; preempting substantial portions of class time for presentation of personal views on topics unrelated to the subject matter of the course, or penalizing disagreement with the faculty member’s views on controversial topics; using authority to obtain uncompensated labor for personal gain; plagiarizing the work of a student or limiting his/her right to publish his/her own scholarly research; misappropriation of university property or facilities; and failure to comply with university regulations restricting the amount of time one may spend on non-university commitments, outside consulting or other on-campus employment.

The post-1969 Senate also recognized the emerging role of student rights and incorporated students as voting members. The Senate also added research faculty and the ranks swelled to ninety-six. In response, the Senate restructured apportionment to include both student credit hours and the number of faculty in a college. This pared it back to seventy-five members.

Both the Faculty Code and the 1969 Higher Education Act represented a distinct evolution in the University’s history and the new significant role of the Senate. In the beginning, the Regency determined employment and while the President eventually helped make hiring and firing decisions, employment terms were still poorly defined with requirements limited to individual merits, loyalty, and efficiency. The faculty, through the Senate, advocated for more sophisticated and rigorous employment terms that resulted in serving the dual functions of protecting academic freedom and the rights of students in their individual scholarly pursuits.

While the 1970s witnessed significant changes in employment terms and the Faculty Code, the academic budget and “politicizing the chair” represented popular items in the meetings during the 1980s (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present, Senate summary: 14(6), 1986). The Senate asserted a new role by creating the Budget Advisory Committee to provide advice and counsel to the president and other administrative officers regarding faculty opinions and reactions to budget matters. In 1986, the Senate criticized itself by noting that it had recently suffered an “erosion of its sense of self and occupied itself with trivial or ceremonial matters while major policies [were] decided elsewhere” (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present, Senate summary: 14(6), 1986).

Part of strengthening the Senate included a name change from University Senate to Academic Senate in 1987. The Senate also wanted to focus on “strengthening” the role of the chairperson (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present, Senate summary: 14(6), 1986). Senate members saw the role as “influential in determining senate issues, chairing the Executive Committee and making sure senate committee and floor work” was completed (ibid.).

The Senate moved for an elected chair “with all tenured professors eligible to run,” but, as was done in 1968, the Senate rejected the change by a substantial majority during a special meeting on April 20, 1987 (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present, Senate summary: 17(3), 1987). Opponents felt that an elected faculty leader would create an us/them, confrontational structure. Only a few spoke in support of the idea saying “electing a Senate chairperson would give the faculty autonomy from the administration” (ibid.).

By May 1990, a middle-ground approach was approved. The Senate voted in favor of the Executive Committee creating a slate of candidates for the University President to choose as the first Senate chair who would also serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet. Leslie Francis (Philosophy and Law) was selected chair and presided over the Senate during the 1990-1991 academic year.

The idea of a direct election surfaced again in December 1990 and was narrowly defeated. Another compromise was suggested: the Senate would choose the nominations from a list of six that would go to the University President for final selection based on the Senate’s preferential voting results. This was reaffirmed during the January 7, 1991 meeting and an ad hoc committee was formed in February 1991 to study the best method of electing a chair. Bruce Landesman (Philosophy) was selected as the chair-elect and announced during the March 4, 1991 meeting. Election procedures were on the floor again during the April 1, 1991 meeting with the final decision being single-round preferential voting by the Senate, which would then serve as a nomination to the University President for final selection.

These years of compromise seemed to be successful because by the following year the Senate directly elected its first chair during the October 5, 1992 meeting. The slate included six names and required that the top vote getter have 50% plus one to be elected. The vote resulted in a tie and run-off election. John McCullough (Anthropology) received the most votes during the run-off and served as the first directly elected Senate Chair during the 1993-1994 academic year. The title of Senate Chair changed to Senate President in June 1994, which reflects current Senate practices.

Presently, the Academic Senate is made up of ninety-eight tenure-line and career-line faculty members across all schools and colleges based on the 1975 apportionment calculation of student credit hours and number of faculty in a college. Deans elect two senators and students elect eighteen. The University President, Senior Vice Presidents, and all the non-voting Deans serve as ex-officio members.

Much like the Administrative Council, the Faculty Council, and the University Senate, the responsibilities and power of today’s Academic Senate include discussing and acting on educational policies including requirements for admissions, new degrees, certificates and programs, and curricular matters involving interdisciplinary collaborations. The Senate receives and considers reports from its committees and other University committees. Matters of faculty welfare as well as any item referred by the University President come before the Senate. The Academic Senate can also propose changes to University regulations including “the power to make rules governing its own organization and procedure,” which are stipulated in U Policy 6-002 (The Academic Senate, Senate Committees: Structure, Functions, Procedures) (University of Utah 2014).

In order to not repeat the scourge of “inefficient meetings” that plagued the 1960s Senate, agenda items do not reach the floor until other Senate or University committees have vetted them. However, Senate members frequently identify the unintended consequences of policies and raise them on the Senate debate floor. This is often the case with controversial policies. By the end of this comprehensive process, most University policies and programs of study are ready to move forward to the Board of Trustees. Figure 5 shows a sample workflow chart for a new undergraduate degree.

Figure 5. From Idea to Degree: University of Utah Shared Governance Workflow, 2014. (Credit: John Herbert and Allyson Mower, Marriott Library.)

Academic Senate Committees

The Academic Senate has ten standing committees to help manage its responsibilities and powers. The committees also serve the purpose of avoiding the 1986 ‘erosion’ of the Senate’s effectiveness where other, more active non-Senate committees decided University policies. Some committees address topical issues such as diversity, academic freedom, and faculty rights Other committees, such as the Executive Committee, assist with setting meeting agendas, debating about whether items are ready for final vote, and generally acting as faculty and student sounding boards. U Policy 6-002 governs each Senate committee. Two Senate committees receive additional governance through other University policies. U Policy 6-011 (Functions of the Senate Consolidated Hearing Committee) provides additional guidance for the Senate Consolidated Hearing Committee and U Policy 6-313 (Terminations and Program Discontinuance–Declaration of Financial Exigency) further instruct the Senate Advisory Committee on Budget and Planning.

Senate Executive Committee
The Senate Executive Committee prepares the Senate agenda and reports each month on its actions. The committee studies the actions of other Senate committees as well as College Councils, the Graduate Council, and the Undergraduate Council. It recommends to the Senate the creation of possible ad hoc committees to study a specific issue when the topic involved does not fall under the jurisdiction of an existing committee. It acts on behalf of the Senate on urgent matters and acts on behalf of the Senate during vacation periods and the summer semester. The committee receives confidential reports indicating a serious concern about the systemic operation of a program, department or college or other academic unit and carries out such functions described in various University Regulations.

Powers and Duties
• Sets the monthly Academic Senate meeting agenda
• Studies the actions of committees, College Councils, Graduate Council, and Undergraduate Council
• Initiates ad hoc committees to study specific issues
• Acts on behalf of the Academic Senate on urgent matters and during vacations
Membership: The Academic Senate elects twelve of its own members to serve and includes three students: the ASUU President, the Student Senate Chair, and a student senator representing graduate students.
Senate Advisory Committee on Academic Policy
The Senate Advisory Committee on Academic Policy considers matters related to academic policy brought before the committee by members of the committee, members of the faculty, administrative officers, or students. Upon its selection of a subject for study, the committee notifies all interested agencies within the University, including standing committees, and invites their cooperation. At least once each academic year, the committee submits a written report of its studies and recommendations, if any, to the Senate.

Powers and Duties
• Considers any matter related to academic policy
• Faculty, administrative officers, and students may suggest reviews
• Works closely with other university areas and committees on reviewing academic policies

Membership: The Academic Senate elects nine tenure-line or career-line faculty members. ASUU selects three students.

Senate Advisory Committee on Budget and Planning
The Senate Advisory Committee on Budget and Planning consults with the University’s administration with regard to the views and interests of the whole faculty in long-range academic and budgetary planning. The Committee strives to persuade the administration to make critical budgetary and academic policy decisions in as open and public a way as possible.

Powers and Duties
• Provides forum for individual faculty to submit their views on budget and planning
• Consults with the University administration on developing a transparent academic and budgetary planning process
• Represents views and interests of all faculty

Membership: The Academic Senate elects eight tenure-line or career-line faculty members.

Senate Advisory Committee on Diversity
The Senate Advisory Committee on Diversity provides leadership and expertise to the University community in promoting diversity in their various roles and activities and serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas within the University. The Committee’s principal role is to identify issues, projects, and proposals that would further a positive climate of diversity on the University campus, would enhance relations with diverse elements in the community, and would promote appreciation of diversity in the wider community. The Committee’s roles include forwarding information and recommendations to the Academic Senate and submitting an annual report.

Powers and Duties
• Identifies issues, projects, and proposals to further a positive climate of diversity at the University
• Provides leadership and expertise in promoting diversity on campus
• Promotes dialogue, exchange of ideas, and appreciation for diversity in the wider community
• Responds to directions from the Academic Senate and forwards information

Membership: The Academic Senate elects twelve tenure-line and career-line faculty members. ASUU selects three students. Ex-officio members include Academic Senate past-president, Associate VP for Equity and Diversity, Associate VP for Diversity for Health Sciences, UUSC Chairperson, ASUU President, Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, Director of LGBT Resource Center, Assistant VP for Human Resources, and two representatives from the community.

Senate Advisory Committee on Library Policy
The Senate Advisory Committee on Library Policy confers with and advises directors of the Marriott Library, the Eccles Health Sciences Library, and the Quinney Law Library concerning library policies and practices including matters of operational policies, the development of existing holdings, and the expansion of existing facilities. It functions as a liaison between the libraries and the faculty and student body. The Committee also brings before the Academic Senate matters affecting library needs, policy, and administration and reports to the Senate annually.

Powers and Duties
• Confers with and advises directors of the University’s libraries
• Receives input from faculty and students about library services
• Brings matters before the Academic Senate that affect library needs, policy, and administration

Membership: The Academic Senate elects eighteen tenure-line or career-line faculty members with one representative from each of the eighteen Senate areas. ASUU selects six students.

Senate Advisory Committee on Salaries and Benefits
The Senate Advisory Committee on Salaries and Benefits functions in a research and advisory capacity on matters related to sabbatical leaves, salaries, salary schedules, cost of living, faculty retirement plans, annuities, health and life insurance, and other benefits. The Committee does not exercise budgetary or administrative powers in relation to these subjects. It reports to the Senate annually and makes recommendations.

Powers and Duties
• Makes recommendations related to sabbaticals, salaries, retirement, insurance, and other benefits
• Reports on advice the committee provides administration

Membership: The Academic Senate elects six tenure-line or career-line faculty members. The Chief Human Resources Officer (or designee) serves as ex-officio.

Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Faculty Rights
The Academic Freedom and Faculty Rights Committee (AFFR) reports to the Academic Senate on issues related to academic freedom, faculty rights, and academic grievances. The Committee keeps fully informed on the most important controversies on academic freedom and faculty rights in higher education, surveys problems of academic freedom and faculty rights at the University of Utah, and informs the Senate on these matters in its annual report.

Powers and Duties
• Investigates issues of academic freedom at the university
• Reviews, determines merit, and advises in response to grievances brought by faculty
• Hears academic freedom matters referred by the University President or the Consolidated Hearing Committee
• Oversees the Code of Faculty Rights & Responsibilities

Membership: The Academic Senate elects twelve members to the committee for three-year terms.

Senate Consolidated Hearing Committee
The Consolidated Hearing Committee for Faculty Disputes (CHC) hears grievances and complaints brought against faculty members at the University of Utah or by faculty members asserting rights including appeals from retention, promotion and tenure decisions. It is the hearing body for matters initially considered but not resolved by other committees (such as AFFR), offices, or individuals.

Power and Duty to Hear
• Denial of retention, promotion, and/or tenure
• Complaint of discrimination
• Violation of Faculty Code
• Abridgment of academic freedom
• Termination or reduction in status for medical reasons
• Appeal of dismissal or reduction in status due to financial exigency or program discontinuance
• Appeal for restriction on speech under University speech policy
• Allegations of sponsored research misconduct

Membership: The Consolidated Hearing Committee consists of a pool of at least thirty faculty members nominated by the Senate Personnel and Elections Committee. The Senate Executive Committee reviews the nominees and, in consultation with the administration, provides a slate to the Senate. The Senate votes sufficient members to fill the pool. CHC pool members are normally appointed for six year staggered terms. There may be expedited elections if necessary to fill vacancies in the pool or to provide sufficient members for a particular panel.

Senate Faculty Review Standards Committee
The Senate Faculty Review Standards Committee generally advises the Senate and University administration on regulations and practices for reviews of members of the University faculty. Acting on behalf of the Senate, the Committee develops and implements procedures to approve criteria for retention, promotion, and tenure.

Powers and Duties
• Advises the Senate and University administration on policy and practices for review of faculty and instructional personnel
• Develops and implements procedures to review and approve criteria for retention, promotion, and tenure (i.e. RPT Statements)
• Initiates a regular schedule to review statements from any academic unit

Membership: The Academic Senate elects twenty-three faculty: seventeen tenured and six career-line. The Associate Vice President for Faculty (or designee) serves as ex-officio.

Senate Personnel & Elections Committee
The Senate Personnel and Elections Committee makes nominations for elections of members to standing committees of the Senate (except as otherwise provided for a specified committee, including the Senate Advisory Committee on Budget and Planning). The Committee also prepares a list of nominees or makes recommendations for committees to be appointed by the University administration.

Powers and Duties
• Nominates faculty for elected Senate committees and appointed University committees
• Reviews standing Senate and University committees
• Appoints alternate faculty members for University Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee

Membership: The Academic Senate elects eighteen tenure-line or career-line Senators. ASUU selects two students.

Chapter Four: Selected Governance Issues, 1988-2014

In order to characterize the role of the Academic Senate in the last quarter century, it is important to look at the issues and topics with which the Senate has dealt. Where has the Senate been influential in University decision-making, what has the Senate done to guide the operation of the University, and how has the University changed as a result of the Senate’s governance role?

The Senate’s role is typically defined as a decision-making body with respect to academic issues and educational policy. However the Senate has played a role in administrative operations, financial matters, and campus life. A survey of Senate actions since the 1990s–the so-called modern period of the Senate where an elected faculty member has been at the helm–shows that curriculum, tenure, salaries, free speech, policy making, diversity, governmental relations, academic freedom, grievances, and research practices are a sampling of topics covered.

In 1988 the Senate was concerned about social and campus climate issues such as bicycle and skateboard safety, non-smoking policies, family leave for faculty, and diversity. The Senate expressed concern with diversity throughout the 1980s and 1990s when the University’s non-discrimination policy was discussed and approved. In a rare split vote, the Senate added the term “sexual orientation” to the non-discrimination policy. The Diversity Committee became a Senate Committee in 2005.

A national trend of severe budget cuts was felt locally at the University in the late 1980s and the Senate discussed how universities would cope. The Senate evaluated and approved financial exigency policies which protected tenure, academic freedom, and defined program discontinuations. The Senate decided that the University of Utah would adopt its own exigency regulations as opposed to those established by the State Board of Regents since many senators considered the University’s provisions to be more thorough than the state’s.

The Senate has played an important role in University President searches through the years, including representation on the search committee, conducting forums with the candidates, seeking input from faculty and students for the search committee and offering statements on the qualifications needed for any new University President. Most recently, the Senate President has been an appointed member of committees to evaluate Presidents and Vice Presidents.

The conversion from quarters to semesters took a great deal of the Senate’s time in the early 1990s. The Senate’s Academic Policy Advisory Committee studied the matter for two years and based on survey data concluded that faculty opposed the change. The first vote in the full Senate reflected this opposition. Since the State Board of Regents sought the semester calendar for all state institutions, APAC continued to study the question and, by early 1993, the Senate voted for the change. The Senate also created the Library Policy Advisory Committee in 1993 to deal with major budget cuts and changes in the collection.

Following the adoption of student course evaluations in the 1960s the Senate reexamined the issue in the 1990s looking this time at who and when the evaluation could be accessed. There were major revisions in the conflict of interest policy in 1994 and a task force was created by the Senate to discuss representation of Lecturers on the Senate; this did not come to full fruition until 2013 when the Senate voted to add career-line faculty.

In response to efforts by the Utah State Legislature to define faculty workloads, the Senate organized a U of U faculty meeting in March 1998 to discuss a statement of values entitled “Defining Ourselves and Our Needs in Time of Change” (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present). The Senate leadership prepared the document and offered it to initiate dialogue. The statement defined faculty as “members of an educational community, committed to teaching and learning, participants in knowledge creation, participating citizens, professional entrepreneurs and dedicated workers” (ibid., Mar 2 1998 meeting). The statement urged that “we [faculty] define our commitments and ask that our identity as professionals with specific responsibilities and contributions to the State be taken seriously” (ibid.). As a result of the forum and discussion, the workload bills never passed.

In January 1999, the Senate passed a major redefinition of the faculty. It defined faculty in categories: Regular, Auxiliary, and Academic Librarians. Three years earlier, in 1996, the Faculty Code was revised with considerations including academic freedom, due process, and an academic environment free from violence.

The University’s ban on concealed weapons became a very controversial topic in 2000. The debate was vigorous and contentious requiring the Senate President and the Parliamentarian to impose a structure. Each respondent had strict time limits. Those in favor of the ban spoke first and those opposed spoke second. The Senate passed the ban, but the Legislature later overturned it.

The Senate took an important role in how the University dealt with the Winter Olympics. Conversations started in 2001 and lasted into February 2002 when the Games greatly impacted University scheduling and operations.

Based on a formal complaint from a student regarding the nature of course readings and assignments, the Senate worked to pass a content accommodations policy. The policy provided students the opportunity to object to an assigned reading based on closely held religious beliefs and established a mechanism for a student to work with the professor on finding an alternate reading. A related policy was also passed that restricts a faculty member from assigning a self-authored text when royalties are potentially increased through the required purchase.

In 2006, the Senate overhauled the academic freedom, faculty rights, and general grievance process by establishing the Consolidated Hearing Committee. As the name suggests, the committee brought together the various committees and entities that existed for complaints to be filed. Faculty rights were further clarified with the renaming and repurposing of the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee to the Academic Freedom and Faculty Rights Committee.

From 2006-2008, the Senate worked through a major re-write of all University policies. Formerly called the Policies and Procedures Manual (or PPM), the name was changed to the University Regulations Library and it included the policies affecting the Senate itself. Policy revisions happen regularly and in 2012 the Senate updated the instruction policy in order to clarify the role of credit-bearing units and to redefine student evaluation standards. In 2014, career-line faculty joined the Senate and all ten of its committees.

The role of the Senate has been important in the operation of the University and, as these examples demonstrate, the Senate often plays a role in steering campus life in addition to academics and educational policy.

Chapter Five: Perspectives on Shared Governance at the U

Universities are predicated on the principle that all perspectives are given voice–opposing views are critically evaluated, fully expressed, and debated in the academy. Shared governance is a cornerstone of these values. It is a system where the administration and the faculty (and students) help to guide and direct the University together. The American Association of University Professors in various incarnations of its statement on governance has said, “Important areas of action involve at one time or another, the initiating capacity and decision-making participation of all the institutional components.” The faculty and the administration must agree on the five principles of governance as articulated by the AAUP.

Trust—all entities are working toward the same goal of education and the furtherance of knowledge.
Primacy—the most effective and efficient use of human resources is utilized by giving primary responsibility to the entity wherein expertise lies.
Transparency—each entity is forthright in its actions and keeps the other informed of intent.
Accountability—each entity provides clear, defensible and written justification of its actions and objections.
Democracy—the principles and practices of democracy are used whenever and wherever possible in the governance of the institution.

Shared governance does not mean that the faculty and administration should be involved equally, indeed the primacy principle above dictates that the faculty should have lead responsibility in curriculum, research, faculty status, appointments, promotion and tenure and student life, and administration in other matters like the operation of the University, financing, public relations, fund raising, physical plant, and the like.

At the University of Utah we subscribe to the principles above, and the model used for governance succeeds, mostly, in achieving the goal. Here like elsewhere, issues and proposals about University activity arise from a variety of sources. There is an organizational structure of Departments, Colleges and other units from which topics emerge. Within these there are committees and individuals who vet proposals, administrators critique and approve, University committees and boards evaluate and approve as well. The Academic Senate has its own roster of committees which initiate and evaluate proposals often. Research is done of these proposals, endorsements are received, and written document is prepared. With the Senate’s model of using an Executive Committee to set agendas and assure that the proposals are complete in advance of the full Senate meeting, the agenda items are usually well prepared and ready for active debate in the Senate. The following official regulations define our Senate, its role and its structure—and its adherence to the shared governance principles and those principles’ long standing value at the University of Utah.

So does shared governance work at the University of Utah? Is it better here than other places? Since 1915, the faculty role in the governing of the University here in an official way has certainly worked. It must be said that the faculty’s role in Department and College affairs is primary, no question; in fact most of the decisions are made at that level in University life. It is at the University level with the Senate and its role, however, where this evaluation is concerned. Utah’s Senate has teeth. The issues that come before it cannot proceed without approval. The Senate can seek out issues and debate and secure approval for them; these, too, will not go on without Senate action. The Senate can change, send back for review and substantially alter proposals under consideration. The Board of Trustees will not approve proposals without Senate approval. Debate in the Senate is often lively and the Senators take seriously their governing role.

Drawbacks to the system are that a relatively small number of faculty actually participate in University service; sometime it is difficult to recruit faculty to run for a seat on the Senate. It is often a challenge to find faculty who are willing to take the time and effort involved in University committee service. It has been said, and confirmed by a survey taken a number of years ago, that 75% of University service was done by 75 faculty. True or not, the value of service is often underappreciated and under rewarded.

An additional critique of the governance system is that some of the items under consideration are small, unimportant or trivial and the Senate is merely “rubber stamping” what is already happening or going to happen anyway. This is partially fair, but to have the responsibility and the right to approve how the University is operated one has to take the small with the large and value the right so to do. Approving an academic emphasis in a major is small but is coupled with the major revision of all curriculum practices recently passed by the Senate. Endorsing new faculty hires is somewhat mundane, but voting no confidence in the University President is less so; and so it goes.

Some of the best features of our system not particularly outlined in policy are the close communication between the faculty and the administration. The Senate President meets one on one regularly with the President and Vice President. The Senate leader is a member the President’s Cabinet, Council of Deans and other leadership boards. In addition, the Senate President sits with the Board of Trustees, attend Board of Regents meetings and is the spokesperson for the faculty in public settings. The Senate has an independent physical office and designated staff housed in the administration building of the University. The Senate, being constituent based, affords faculty members fairly close access to their Senators. The Senate leadership and the Executive Committee are often used as sounding boards for the administration on issues facing the University—faculty involvement in decision making before the proposal is even made.

So, do we succeed? At a recent meeting of Pac-12 faculty leaders where all the schools were represented, as Utah gave its report on how things are done here (the Academic Senate’s role and responsibilities, and what the faculty does), the uniform response from the other Pac-12 faculty members was, “your Senate can do that?, you have that kind of authority?, and you’ve been doing it since when, 1915?”–that perhaps best answers the question.

Jerilyn McIntyre
Acting President, 1991
Interim President, 1997
My introduction to shared governance came early in my career as a faculty member. Service on department and university committees, I was told, was one of the most important responsibilities of academic life.

But why is that? Gary Olson’s article, “What is Shared Governance?” in the July 23, 2009 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, provides an answer. Olson describes shared governance as “a delicate balance between faculty and staff participation in planning and decision-making processes, on the one hand, and administrative accountability on the other.” The key, Olson argues, is “broad and unending communication.”

In my experience at Utah as a faculty member and an administrator, both aspects of shared governance have been effectively maintained through committees at all levels of campus life, and especially on the major committees of the Academic Senate. Yet a necessary change, and a profound strengthening of that balance, came when the Senate began to elect its own Chair, and the Senate Chair became a member of the President’s Cabinet. At that point, the connection between shared participation in decision-making and clear accountability became fully defined and operational.



David P. Gardner
President, 1973-1983
Prior to serving as the University of Utah’s President from 1973-1983, I held positions both as a professor and as an administrator within the University of California system (UC).

During those 10 years, I came to understand and to value the role performed by UC’s Academic Senate acting under authority delegated not by the administration but by the Board of Regents: the formulation of educational policy and the corresponding curricula; the requirements and standards for the earning of university degrees; primary responsibility for the recruitment, appointment and advancement of the professoriate; consulting rights in the formulation of UC’s budgets; and the right to organize the Senate as that body wished.

The role of the Faculty Council/Senate at the University of Utah, when arriving as president in 1973, was akin to UC’s but differentially structured, that is, it depended less on formally delegated authority and more on custom and practice. Thus, I chose to interact with the Council/Senate as I would have at UC but relying more on mutual respect for our respective roles than on the technicalities of formal structure and delegations of authority.

This arrangement worked both in practice and in concept throughout my ten years of service at Utah, and to the University’s great gain as an academic community united in process and purpose from within is much strengthened when dealing with impinging forces from without. It is my impression that the “U”‘s remarkable gains in recent years derive significantly in part from the governing structure and the Faculty Council/Senate’s pivotal role within it.



Randy L. Dryer
Student Body President, 1971-1972
Board of Trustees Member, 1994-2011, Chair 2005-2011
Professor, 2012-
I have seen the concept of shared governance at work at the University of Utah through a variety of lenses: as a student body president in the early 1970s as a member of the Board of Trustees from the mid-1990s until 2010 and now as a full-time member of the faculty for the past three years. In my view, the concept has served the University remarkably well for these many decades and will continue to do so in the future. Shared governance helps mitigate short-term managerial considerations, acts as a buffer against external political influences, is a necessary underpinning of academic freedom and prevents any one of the primary internal University stakeholders (faculty, staff, students or the central administration) from becoming a dominant decision-maker that can ignore the interests of the others.

The concept has been criticized as too inefficient and too cumbersome for our fast moving, technology driven modern society. Granted, it unavoidably produces slower and more deliberative decisions, but I believe it also produces better long-term decisions for the institution as a whole. I have seen too many examples of this to relate here, but I am sure that all of us associated with the University can point to our own favorite example of where a terrible decision was avoided through the inability to obtain a working consensus among all stakeholders.

A University has a unique mission and is unlike a traditional for profit organization where a more nimble governance system is necessary to respond to rapidly changing market forces. The concept of shared governance, however, is not static and must continually evolve as the role of education and the University also evolves. For example, the University recently recognized the increasingly important contribution of non-tenured faculty to the teaching enterprise by giving career-line faculty a seat at the decision-making table through membership on the Academic Senate. Shared governance, although steeped in tradition and time, remains today a vital, relevant and adaptive concept for higher education.



David W. Pershing
President, 2012 –
I am very pleased to offer this letter in honor of your upcoming Centennial celebration. I have had the pleasure of working with the Academic Senate for almost three years now as the University of Utah President and for more than 12 years as the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Throughout that time I have been impressed with the commitment of the Senate leadership and the body as a whole. Both are clearly trying to do what is right for the long-term good of the institution.

I have enjoyed working with each Senate President over this period and have almost always found them to be thoughtful people who understand the importance of the shared governance principle. In general, they have been willing to investigate the complexity of big issues and work with the administration for the good of the faculty, staff, and students. They have also been willing to provide opposing views to which the administration has listened. I believe this is part of why we have historically had such good relationships and effective shared governance.

In my opinion, it is important to be honest and open with the Academic Senate, most especially during tough times. We have tried to involve them in the development of guiding principles and heeded their advice regarding alternate approaches and possible negative implications.

Shared governance is a core value, and I intend to guard it as long as I am president.



Michael K. Young
President, 2004-2011
Congratulations on the 100th Anniversary of the Faculty Council/Senate at the University of Utah. I remember with warm fondness and deep appreciation the working relationship I had with the Faculty Senate during my tenure as President. From the very first day, it was clear that Faculty Senate leaders would be among my best allies in helping the University remain on its extraordinary upward trajectory. It did not mean we always agreed (though what self-respecting academic always agrees with anyone…), but, through discussion and analysis and vigorous debate, we always came to a place better than where I started.
Shared governance, in its best form, offers a structure and a process for ensuring that the core institutional values are always at the forefront of any decision and that the best ideas are ideas that take into consideration the history and all the complexities of the institution. I valued that input more than I can say and the mutual respect with which it was conveyed.
The Faculty Senate at the University of Utah was serious, deeply engaged, incredibly forward thinking and genuinely wise. The leadership and contributions of every Senate President with whom I worked were meaningful and absolutely central to our achievements. It was a true pleasure to work with passionate and committed faculty toward our common goal of academic excellence, and it is clear to me to this day that it would have been impossible to accomplish all the great things that we did during that period without such an extraordinary group of partners and colleagues.



Penny Simpson Brooke
Academic Senate President, 2007-2008
During my term as President of the Academic Senate I enjoyed participating with the administrative committees and the Board of Trustees as they planned for the future progress of our University as well as dealt with the current issues on campus and throughout the state. I felt as though the faculty were well represented through the participation of the Academic Senate President on these committees and the Board of Trustees. A major focus during my term was the development of a campus plan for the utilization of the limited space we enjoy on the east hillside of our community. Our participation with other state educational programs was also frequently discussed. I felt greatly honored to be a voice for our faculty and the University during my term as President of the Academic Senate.



John G. Francis
Academic Senate President, 1994-1995
It is a rewarding and fascinating job to have served as President of the Academic Senate 1994-1995. It is a job with a certain creative tension at its heart. Members of the faculty to the extent that they give the position much thought see the position as the faculty representative to the administration. The administration is more likely to see the position as a conduit to the faculty that is useful in explaining new directions in policies and priorities. The task of the Senate president as I saw it was to share the administration’s programmatic direction with the faculty and to engage the faculty in helping to shape the university’s priorities.

The Senate of course includes both members of the faculty and student leaders. When I came into office I observed relatively low attendance from two groups: student leaders and faculty members from the health sciences. I held a Senate meeting up in the health sciences and spent time talking to health science senators about their concerns. I also met with student leaders to see how the Senate could play a role in helping to address their concerns.

As a good political scientist, I was a bit worried over the question of representation on the Executive Committee and the need for institutional memory in the committee’s interactions with the administration. A group was appointed and recommended that student representation be increased to three. In addition, a new policy was established that the Senate president-elect served on the executive committee and continued to serve for a year after her or his presidential term was over as immediate past president. If issues arose that were likely to engage the Senate, I placed them on the agenda even if they had not come to the Senate from another official body of the University. A long discussion on the issue of overhead and how the revenue was shared was one such issue. Another issue was the plans to enlarge the stadium for the football team and the Winter Olympics.

Faculty governance is largely confined to a small faculty group spread throughout the campus who regularly give of their time and ideas. Occasionally a big issue arises that mobilizes large numbers of people. I do not anticipate that to be a regular pattern of faculty participation. Members of the faculty lead busy lives. But having said I think the Senate works, I have never been able to anticipate which issue will capture the Senate’s attention and which will not. Perhaps a pattern of random attention is the Senate’s key to success for it keeps everyone on their toes.



Ken Jameson
Academic Senate President, 1998-1999
When I became Senate President, Bernie Machen was still settling in as University President. I enjoyed working with him. He was open with me and responsive whenever I had matters I wanted to discuss. He focused on a few central issues and would hear my opinion. We only crossed swords when I insisted the Senate hear a report on the cost of the PeopleSoft project.

When I was Senate President-elect, I had tried to interview all the Senators about their priorities. One issue stood out, the need to evaluate teaching, particularly in a few Departments whose teaching performance affected other Departments negatively. So we started the process that finally gave us the numeric course evaluations. I hope that for all their problems, they have at least forced improvements in teaching in those few Departments. We also started the process that has given you a fall break.

I had come to the U from a university where shared governance was a foreign idea. My first experience of it at the U was as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs where I saw its value, even when it made my job harder. As Senate President, I may have made some administrators’ jobs harder, but I hope the overall outcome was positive for the University. In any case, from those two experiences I stood, and stand, in awe at the tradition here at the U. I hope that it is a vibrant reality today and will continue to be so in the future.



John M. McCullough
Academic Senate President 1993-1994
Serving as the Senate Chair was an honor I have always cherished. Two changes that were initiated during my term were establishment of the university sexual harassment policy and changing the sobriquet “Senate Chair” to “Senate President,” in keeping with practices of sister schools throughout the state. I also ran the shortest senate meetings in history. As a de facto member of the university president’s cabinet I gained insight into the important, sometimes fragile, relations we had with the community at large (the Pioneer Theater was under fire for obscenities in plays!). As only an observer in Trustees’ meetings sitting in the back of the room, while the ASUU President was a full member, I witnessed how marginal faculty power was in the upper echelons. I hope that has changed. The senate must remain the seat of independent faculty power and influence, and keep alive the spirit, courage, and good judgment of our 1914 forebears.



Jim Anderson
Academic Senate President 2009-2010
Holding the Academic Senate presidency creates an interesting moment in time. It provides the otherwise ordinary faculty member a unique view into the operation of the University. As an ethnographer, it was particular fascinating to see the interplay of relationships, competing interests, posturing, and political horse-trading that characterize all large organization played out against the façade of civility and rationality that is any university’s public face. That moment snaps open on May 15th of the presidential year and closes just as quickly 12 months later. For that year, the president has to be acknowledged and accounted for, but with the full recognition that the clock is ticking. Were good things accomplished in my year of service? I think so. Were less than admirable things undertaken? That I know. I was naively surprised by the world of privilege administrators inhabit, while at the same time, manifestly impressed by the intelligence and work ethic of most I met. On the other hand, I found the senate exasperatingly unprepared, rambling in its dispositions, and yet, reaching a good conclusion on most occasions.



Pat Hanna
Academic Senate President, 2011-2012
When I was elected president of the Academic Senate in 2011 I was delighted. In 1989, with John Francis (1994-1995), I co-chaired the Presidential Task Force formed by Chase Peterson to make recommendations on the structure of University upper administration in general, and the (then) Faculty Senate in particular. The Task Force recommended an independent status for the Senate, which would allow it a strong voice in the selection of its chair (now, president). Of course, between then and the time I was elected to be president, many things had changed, and the scope of the Senate’s authority, along with its membership, had expanded. For me being President was like being invited to help cook dinner with your now adult child; and like cooking with my child, it was a wonderful experience.

Michael Young had just left the University for the University of Washington. One of the first things I was invited to do was to serve on the Regents’ search committee for the new president as the faculty representative. When I learned that I was the one and only faculty representative, I asked that the Senate be one of the focus groups for helping formulate the job description, and that the Executive Committee be consulted during the non-confidential portion of the search, and that it be invited to interview the candidates before the finalists were announced. The Regents agreed to this, and it led to a very close working relationship with this group, a relationship that expanded the Executive Committee’s role in Senate leadership. I took this as a good sign that shared-governance was indeed alive and thriving at the University.

During my time in office, at the urging of one Senator, the Senate debated campus closure for Thursday night football games and played a role in helping shape the rules for such closures. The School of Dentistry was approved after many, many hours of work on the part of a sub-committee of the Senate Executive Committee (led by Robert Flores, 2005-2006) to help the School of Medicine and the Sr. V. P for Health Sciences do everything necessary to bring a college into existence. Although this was the first time in 60 years that a new college was created, the results were stunning: in one meeting, the proposal was moved to the debate calendar and approved unanimously. This was only one of the initiatives which the Executive Committee introduced during my term, and although the structure of the Senate didn’t change, the tone of meetings seemed to reflect an openness—and sometimes a cheekiness—that is essential to shared-governance. This was also the U’s first year in the Pac-12, and with the University of Colorado, the senate leaders of Pac-12 schools formed a working group, the Coalition of Pac-12 Faculties, which allows us to exchange ideas, work together to address issues in governance and find solutions to a wide variety of issues confronting faculty in the 21st century.



Robert Fujinami
Academic Senate President, 2012-2013
I was fortunate to be elected by the Academic Senate to serve as president during the 2012-2013 academic year. This was a very exciting year. President Pershing was selected as the 15th President of the University of Utah. Working with him was an honor. It was a very steep learning curve for me in that I came from the Health Sciences and was trying to figure out how the main campus worked. I had a basic knowledge being on UPTAC, P & E committee, Grad Council, and president-elect. However, it isn’t until you have to start making decisions and performing the nuts and bolts of the position that you start thinking WOW this is neat. Early in my tenure, I spoke with John Francis (previous President of the Academic Senate) and he gave me advice as well as putting the job in perspective that the President of the Academic Senate is the Chair of the Faculty. This was a perspective Pat Hanna (my predecessor) always had. I do remember at my very last meeting on the final agenda item, I had to break a tie vote in the Senate. No one could recall the last time this had happened. The best part of the job was meeting new friends and colleagues, particularly from Main Campus. Paul Mogren (past President and Senate Parliamentarian) and Bob Flores (past President and special assistant to the Senate) would give assistance when needed. I have to give a special thanks to Shawnee Worsley who kept my head on straight and Amy Wildermuth (Associate Vice President for Faculty) who, on many occasions, provided good and sound advice often late at night. As per my recollections the job is not a one person operation. It is collaboration between administration, students, and faculty, which is very much the heart of shared-governance.



Theresa Martinez
Academic Senate President, 2000-2001
For me, the experience of being President of the Academic Senate meant seeing myself as part of a complex, nuanced entity we call a university. Being a faculty member doesn’t always guarantee that one has this university-wide perspective—a faculty member can spend the majority of their entire academic career only within their department or college. I suppose over the years most faculty have the chance to sit on one or other college or university committee that oversees a larger portion of the campus—being on my college’s Retention, Promotion, and Tenure Committee is one such example as is serving on Undergraduate Council, the University Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee, or Personnel and Elections Committee. But the Academic Senate is something else again. It is the chance to meet and interact with a large group of individuals, a diverse range of faculty and students, every month for an academic year, discussing sometimes pragmatic, other times programmatic, and often systemic issues that affect the development of everything from departments and colleges to the wider university campus. It’s a matter of perspective and Academic Senate can give you that level of perspective. More than that, I had the chance to establish meaningful connections and relationships that are still part of my life. Academic Senate leadership seems to attract individuals who want to make some substantive progressive difference on the campus—it’s a mindset that I resonate with and respect.



Dixie S. Huefner
Academic Senate President, 1995-1996
My term as Academic Senate President in 1995-1996 was a stimulating and informative one. Getting to know faculty from across campus was a boon, as was working with administrative leaders of the University. Having the opportunity to do both more extensively than anticipated was largely the result of President Smith’s and the Board of Regents’ decision to move the campus from the quarter system to a semester system. Distinguished Professor Dave Grant had accepted my invitation to serve as chair of the faculty committee (Academic Policy Advisory Committee) responsible for assessing the pros and cons of a conversion, but the Board of Regents moved more swiftly without waiting for the APAC report or addressing our concerns about process. So we plunged ahead, and Dave and I ended up chairing and vice-chairing the transition process the following year.

Two other highlights of my term (that I can remember almost 20 years later with a fading memory) include:
1) Completion of the Senate Self-Study of our recent history and current functions, as part of the University’s accreditation for the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities
2) Service on the President’s Cabinet, resulting in a broader view of the many issues confronting the various departments and colleges, and the political challenges within the Legislature and donor community.

Overall, I valued the role that the Academic Senate was playing in the life of the University as it confronted needed changes to policy and procedures, departmental changes in degree programs, and campus-wide strategic planning needs. I came to believe that Senate effectiveness depended in large part on what kind of relationships could be developed between the Senate and the Park Building and what kind of energy and knowledge could be marshaled by the faculty (and student) members of the Senate.



Andrew Gitlin
Academic Senate President, 2003-2004
Several experiences stand out during my presidency, the foremost being my weekly interactions with President Machen and the past Academic Senate president Katie Coles from the English department. President Machen is truly an inspiring leader. He is one who combines a moral imperative with the pragmatic strengths of a superb strategist. Because he lives outside the box, for example his motorcycle, he brings creative energy to the Presidency. His accomplishments are not only unprecedented but more importantly have expanded what is possible within a large conservative bureaucracy. He has inspired me to do the same in my years since I met him. For that alone my stay as academic president would have been profound. Added to this experience was my interaction with Katie Coles. I remember her as a passionate, smart, no nonsense women who introduced me the area of poetics. I read the book she was using in her class and also her own poetry. That set into place a 15 year focus on art and progressive change. I’m sure she doesn’t know it but she continues to inspire me today demonstrating clearly the importance of moving outside one’s silo. Finally, I learned that the faculty at the university are passionate, reasonable and strong willed. In the end, we all worked together on a non-compliance policy that had been stalled for a few years. It was passed during my presidency and that will always be my most important accomplishment.

In the end the academic senate provided me with opportunities to meet all sorts of amazing and inspiring people including our current president David Pershing. Dave is a man of tremendous integrity openness and kindness. While President Bush claimed to be the kinder and gentler President, President Pershing is surely that man. He is a man who will continue to lead us forward and do so with compassion and empathy. We are all lucky to have him at this important moment at the University of Utah.



Stephen Alder
Academic Senate President, 2014-2015
Serving as the President of the Academic Senate during this year of celebrating the Centennial of Shared Governance at the University of Utah is a profound honor. I have had the privilege of being a Utah Ute since 1988 when I restarted my undergraduate education. Since that time, I have experienced nearly every corner of this remarkable institution. While the campuses, facilities, and programs are impressive, it is the people – the faculty, students, staff, administrators and community partners – who are the soul of the U. Our commitment to sharing the responsibility of caring for the University of Utah and guiding it to new horizons has enabled us to achieve what many believed was impossible. We truly are Imagine U – where we can ‘imagine – then do’.

Our future will be shaped by our ability to continue the tradition of insuring that faculty members and students are engaged with our administrative leadership in being stewards of the scholarly space provided through the University of Utah. We have the solemn responsibility of ensuring that this space with which we have been entrusted is to be a source of knowledge discovery, innovation, sharing and implementation. Our commitment to having an impact in Utah and around the world has been enhanced by the inauguration of the University of Utah Asia Campus in Incheon, Korea, where students from around the world will come together to approach scholarship in the Utah way. Our ability to impact the world for good is enhanced by governance that is informed by multiple perspectives, with the aim of finding that congruent space where we can optimize our impact. Through this process, we are well positioned to continue to provide world-class education to outstanding learners, expand our knowledge-based capacity in the sciences and the arts, increase our ability to practically implement what we have learned through our scholarship, and even tackle parking challenges. Through the participation of over 120 committed faculty and student senators, we will approach the future with confidence as we share in the governing of the University of Utah with our administrative colleagues, ably led by President David Pershing, and proudly proclaim -Go Utes!



Linda Smith
Academic Senate President, 1997-1998
My year as Senate President began with the report that Jerilyn McIntyre would continue as the university’s Interim President because the Presidential Search Committee had failed, despite its promise, to have a new President in place by fall semester. A reporter from the Trib wanted to quote me as saying the faculty was upset because we “needed a leader.” I told him that the faculty was upset because the search should have been concluded as had been promised and there were many important things that a new president needed to undertake, but no faculty member would want to be quoted as “needing a leader.” That was my first statement on shared governance!

Later that year Bernie Machen was selected as the new president. I had the pleasure of orienting Bernie to dealing with the Academic Senate. Yes, I told him, the Senate WOULD expect him to come to its meetings and report, just as prior University Presidents had done. That was my second statement on shared governance.

During the course of my presidency (and for some years thereafter) I worked with faculty and administration to rewrite various Policies, including creating the Consolidated Hearing Committee for all faculty disputes. (Previously faculty with disputes had managed to lose RPT appeals and then litigate discrimination complaints and then academic freedom complaints, each matter delaying a final outcome.) I hope the CHC has improved dispute resolution for faculty and administrators alike.



Larry Meyer
Academic Senate President, 2001-2002
The year of Academic Senate presidency gently blends into several years, spanning years as a senator and committee member, the three years as president elect, president and past president, and a long tail of committee activity getting projects completed that were started during my tenure. This meant I spanned the administrations of Art Smith, Bernie Machen, Lorris Betz and David Pershing. In more specific terms, I was Academic Senate President during the winter Olympics. There were more than a few procedural hurdles with the specific schedule change, coming at about the same time as the shift to the modified early semester calendar.

Overall, I was increasingly impressed during my service with the healthy function of faculty governance. One of the major efforts in which I was I was involved dealt with rewriting the faculty code sections of PPM, specifically those involved with retention, promotion and tenure and with appeals. In drafting these sections, members of the faculty from many different departments and colleges (e.g., Physics, Music, Political Science and Medicine, to name only a few) spent seemingly interminable hours discussing the procedures in their departments, highlighting to me the incredible variety of what was considered standard all in one university. In the end, we came out with significant changes to the faculty code that were subsequently passed. Of course, they have already been modified further. But I am happy to see many of the most dramatic changes have been strengthened by subsequent actions. These were changes created by consensus among faculty from the bottom up. This to me was a continuing legacy of faculty governance in the institution that established the first system of tenure over 100 years ago, the University of Utah.



Leslie Francis
Academic Senate President, 1990-1991
I had the great honor and pleasure to serve as the first Senate President actually elected by the Senate. There is a qualification to this–in the beginning, the University was so concerned about having Senate-elected Senate presidents that the initial procedure was that the Senate selected two names for the University President and the President made the final determination, so I’ve always thought of myself as quasi-elected. I am very glad that process was eliminated in favor of direct election of their President by the Senate.

I was then and remain today deeply committed to the importance of faculty service and faculty governance. We are, after all, at the very core of the academic enterprise, working with our students so they obtain the best education possible, collaborating with one another as colleagues, generating important research and public service, and doing all this within the administrative, financial, and physical structure of the University. Because of this, it seemed incongruous to me that at the time I was Senate President the faculty did not have representation on either the University’s Board of Trustees or the state Board of Regents.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my time as Senate president was getting to know faculty governance leaders around the state. The recognition of the importance of faculty participation in institutional governance was somewhat uneven across institutions and we were able to discuss concerns and support one another. I don’t know how much this has continued, but faculty at all of Utah’s state colleges and universities share central concerns. I would like to see a “faculty regent,” along the lines of the “student regent” we have now.

I have been very happy to see the increasing trust in and role for faculty governance. Several times since I was Senate President, I have had the opportunity to represent my colleges as a member of the Senate. The Senate is crucial to the University’s academic mission and I am very grateful to everyone who has contributed to it.



Charles Wight
Academic Senate President, 1999-2000
A Thousand Voices
Every president of the Academic Senate is called upon to express the views of the faculty, but I was surprised by how many times I had to explain that the faculty does not speak with a single voice. That’s why debate in Academic Senate meetings is such an important part of shared governance. Few proposals that come to the Senate floor are defeated, but discussion allows for a revision of proposals that reflects faculty values and priorities.

Guns on Campus
The most contentious debate during my presidency was over a resolution to allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons on campus and in classrooms. The principal advocates of the resolution were students, but most faculty members were opposed. The resolution failed, but most senators felt that we were able to have a respectful exchange of views on the highly controversial subject in a single afternoon. However, the issue did not die, and a 2004 state law expressly allowed concealed weapons on all Utah college campuses.

If Nominated, I Will Not Accept; If Elected, I Will Serve After All
When I received an e-mail notifying me that I had been nominated to be president-elect of the Academic Senate, my immediate reaction was to decline the nomination. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. I was on a research project in Russia at the time, and a lightning strike knocked out the network for about 10 days, preventing me from sending a timely response. After being elected in absentia, I decided that this might be an interesting gig after all. In fact, it launched an adventure into higher-ed administration from which I have not yet fully recovered. Today I serve as president of Weber State University.



Bob Flores
Academic Senate President, 2005-2006
The most memorable aspect of my term as president was a profoundly personal matter- the tragic illness and eventual death of Nancy Stroud, who had long served in the position of Secretary of the Faculty and Academic Senate Administrative Officer. In addition to the personal tragedy, her illness and passing presented great challenges for Senate leadership. As any past president will confirm, the person in the Secretary position is a vital contributor to shared governance at the University, both assisting and in many respects guiding the relatively short-term Senate leaders in carrying out their duties and making the Senate function. That position is also the ‘bedrock’ administrator for populating Senate committees and most other University committees. Nancy Stroud had been an exemplary occupant of that vital position for several years, and as I contemplated beginning my term in the office I was very glad to know I would be in Nancy’s competent care. Tragically, she developed an initially mysterious illness, and it was appearing almost exactly at the time of the transfer of the presidency responsibilities to me from my predecessor. She valiantly continued attempting to do much of her work from her sick bed at home and then later while hospitalized, and for most of my term we were all optimistically hopeful that she would recover. In part because of her great love of her work we chose to keep her employee position reserved. Nancy showed that she truly loved her work—and was deeply devoted to it. Very near the end of my term, it finally became apparent that she would not be able to return to her role for the 2006-2007 year, and I and my successor had to explain to Nancy that we could no longer hold her beloved job open and would have to recruit a replacement. Most sadly, Nancy lost the battle with what had finally been identified as a form of leukemia, and she passed away on May 20, 2006, shortly after the entire Senate membership signed and had me deliver to her hospital room a commendation for her years of outstanding service. The University and Nancy’s church fittingly jointly hosted a memorial service on May 31, attended by hundreds of the faculty, staff, and administrators she had helped over many years of service at the University, including a long stretch with the Senate. I had the privilege of speaking at the memorial on behalf of the Senate and faculty.

The personal tragedy of Nancy’s illness and death, and the tremendous difficulties her unavailability during the long illness created for me as president, also presented opportunities for many wonderful people at the University to step up and help to keep the Senate and the committee system running. My home department, the college of law, tolerated my suddenly having to devote far more time than expected to my Senate responsibilities for most of the year. Senior Vice President Pershing generously arranged to keep Nancy in an employment status eligible for health care benefits (well beyond contractual obligations), and yet also provide funds for hiring a part-time temporary assistant for me near the end of the year. That was Darla Jones, a retired staff member who came out of retirement and devoted many hours to helping us through the crucial annual elections and committee-populating season, and was assisted by other staff members in the Senior VP’s office, especially Pat Armstrong, Sheila Olson, and Melissa Hill. Throughout the year, Parliamentarian Paul Mogren provided guidance, and my presidential predecessor Larry DeVries, and successor Kirtly Parker-Jones, provided guidance and much assistance. And among the most notable– Ann Marie Breznay, Senator from the Marriott Library and Secretary of the Senate Executive committee, stepped in to mostly take over Nancy’s responsibilities for keeping both Executive Committee and Senate meeting minutes, enabling us to maintain good records for the year. Susan Olson, Associate VP for Faculty, spent many hours advising me on aspects of the Senate office she was more familiar with than most anyone else at the University aside from Nancy. This nearly year-long slow-motion tragedy showed me that the spirit of cooperation and “chipping in during times of trouble” was a core characteristic of the University community generally and particularly those associated closely with the Senate and the administrative offices that regularly work with the Senate office. Together, with Nancy from her sick bed on occasional lucid days between chemotherapy bouts sending me reminders and contributing her ‘institutional memory’ of procedures, and others supporting me in various ways, we managed to keep the Senate operating (particularly challenging because this was still a “paper” era– before use of electronic distribution of agendas and notices), and kept the committee system running.

My experience with Nancy’s situation left me with a deep appreciation of the contributions made by each person who has served as Secretary of the Faculty, and that has only grown deeper through further experience. I have continued to be involved in Senate leadership since my term as president, serving at one point as parliamentarian, and for the past several years as the Senate Liaison to the Institutional Policy Committee (which many people refer to as “University Policy Guru”).That long close association has enabled me to observe perhaps more fully than anyone in University history just how vital is the role of the Senate Secretary. I urge the faculty and all members of the University community to recognize the work of the staff members who have served in that capacity- particularly current Senate Secretary—Shawnendoaha “Shawnee” Worsley. I’ve had the privilege of working with her very closely throughout her time in position, and she is, much like the great Nancy Stroud before her, a devoted, talented, and highly effective servant of shared governance at the University. She keeps the wheels turning.

To less personal matters, here are some of the noteworthy occurrences/accomplishments of the Senate during my 2005-2006 presidential term:
• Enactment of a ‘landmark’ Policy on Faculty Parental Leaves for tenure-line faculty of all colleges other than Medicine (delayed to the following year), with proposal developed by the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, with leadership of Associate VP Susan Olson, and Prof. Elizabeth Tashjian, a team I was privileged to assist on the project. Ultimately approved by the Senate after lengthy and difficult debate.
• Enactment of a new Policy on Violence in the Workplace and Academic Environment. I was privileged to assist the Human Resources administration, including the great late Tom Loveridge in crafting the Policy and moving it through approval.
• Approval of revised sanctions available against faculty members for violations under the Code of Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, a project led by Susan Olson and leadership of the Academic Freedom and Faculty Rights Committee.
• Revision of the Academic Calendar to include a full-week fall break (idea raised in 2005 by Senator & former president Ken Jameson, then proposal developed through this year by a commission including students, administrators, and Senate President Flores representing the faculty). Approved after lengthy and difficult Senate debate, to take effect in fall 2007.
• Successful completion of NCAA 10-year recertification of the University’s athletic programs (with Senate President Flores representing the faculty on task force during the comprehensive year-long project)
• Approved revision of policies governing the former Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee- renamed and assigned differing responsibilities as the Academic Freedom and Faculty Rights Committee. Following through on a project of dividing up responsibilities for grievance investigations between the recently created Consolidated Hearing Committee, and this committee. Among other points, the policy revisions clarified that this committee is to serve as a forum for academic-freedom complaints from any member of the University community (students, administrative officers, and academic staff, as well as faculty). Project led by Susan Olson and leadership of the committee.
• Approval of new “Mission Statement” of the University (developed by ad hoc committee chaired by Senate President Flores representing the faculty, with guidance of Assoc. VP John Francis).

And generally, throughout the term, I enjoyed excellent relations and very open communication with President Michael Young (who had taken office during my year as President-elect), Senior VP David Pershing, and Sr. VP Lorris Betz, and perhaps most importantly, Associate VP Susan Olson and Associate VP John Francis. I came away from that experience very pleased with the degree of cooperation and openness of communication between the central administration and the faculty, which I think are among the hallmark characteristics of our institution. As my term in the Senate presidency ended I was asked by Assoc. VP Olson to serve in a newly created role of “special assistant for faculty policy”—a role I have continued to serve in to the present. Among other benefits, this role puts me in a position to be able to assist each year’s Senate leadership team and central administrators to continue the tradition of working cooperatively through our shared-governance mechanisms to further the University’s missions.

From my multiple perspectives and extensive personal experience, I see that shared-governance generally, and the Academic Senate in particular, are in very good circumstances as we complete a century of experience.

Appendix I: Senate Structures from 1915-2015


Established by the Committee of Seven in 1915 with five elected members and five ex-officio with the following duties:

1. All appointments, removals or changes in rank of members of the teaching force shall be made upon recommendation of the President to the Administrative Council after consultation with heads of departments and Deans of Schools concerned
2. All legislative power shall be vested in the Faculty of the University
3. The Administrative Council shall hold regular monthly meetings during the school year, and such special meetings as may be found necessary
4. Of the members of the Administrative Council elected by the Faculty, one-half shall be elected for one year, and the remainder shall be elected for two years. Their successors shall be elected for two years; they shall be elected by secret ballot, and a majority of all votes cast shall be necessary to election.
5. A record shall be kept of all actions of the Administrative Council. The record shall be open to inspection by the Faculty and Board of Regents. All votes on matters of policy or administration shall be by roll call and the names of the voters and the way in which their ballots are cast shall be part of the record.
6. The regular medium of communication with the Regents shall be the Administrative Council, but the Faculty may at any time communicate with the Regents by conference, resolution, special committee, or otherwise.


The Committee on a Faculty Council recommended the creation of a Faculty Council in 1946 to replace the Administrative Council and that it consist of 19 ex-officio members in administrative roles and 40 faculty apportioned by schools as follows:

Medicine: 4
(Anatomy, Bacteriology, Biological Chemistry, Medicine, ObGyn, Pathology, Pediatrics, Pharmacology, Physiology, Public Health, Radiology, and Surgery)

Law: 1

Business and Social Sciences: 5
(Business, Economics, History and Political Science, Social Work, Anthropology and Sociology, Psychology, and Philosophy)

Education, Home Ec, Extension, and Library: 5
(Ed Admin, Elementary Ed, Health Rec and Phys Ed, Home Ec, Stewart School, Nursing Edu, Secondary Ed, Social Ed, the Library, Extension Division)

Engineering and Mineral Industries: 4
(Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgical Eng, Mineral Eng, Geology, Engineering Experiment Station)

Languages and Arts: 6
(Ancient Languages, Art, English, Modern Languages, Music, and Speech)

Mathematics, Physical, and Biological Sciences: 6
(Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics)

Administrative and Personnel: 3
(ex officio members President, Dean of Faculty, Secretary of Board of Regents, Dean of Grad School, Deans of schools, Dean of Lower Division, Director of Extension, Deans of Men, Women and Students, Registrar, Librarian, Director of Placement)

Ex-officio members had right of discussion but not the right to vote.

Meeting Structure of the Faculty Council

Officers of the Faculty Council included the President of the University as the presiding officer and the Secretary of the Faculty serving as secretary. Meetings were held the second Monday of each month at 4 pm with the following Order of Business:

1. Call to Order
2. Reading and Approval of the Minutes
3. Announcements
4. Special Orders
5. Reports from Schools, Divisions, and Councils
6. Reports from standing committees
7. Reports of special committees
8. Unfinished business
9. New Business
10. Adjournment

Authority and duties of the Faculty Council were subject to the authority of the Board of Regents, but had the power “to act for and represent the Faculty under existing regulations governing the faculty of the University of Utah, including the following powers:

(a) To determine questions of educational policy; to exercise legislative functions, touching the same, and to make such rules and regulations as it may deem desirable to promote the educational interests of the University; it shall determine the requirements for admission and for degrees, diplomas, and certificates; it shall decide upon curricula and such new courses of study and changes in courses of study as involve considerations of educational policy or relations between schools or departments. Whenever the Faculty Council is acting within its province as here designated, its actions shall be effective without approval except that the same shall be subject to an appeal to and review by the University Faculty as hereinafter provided.

Whenever an increase in the expense of instruction or administration is involved, the President shall report this action to the Board of Regents with his recommendations. No new line of work shall be established except by approval of the Board of Regents on recommendation of the Faculty Council and the President.

(b) To receive and consider reports from all University Committees, Councils, Departments, Divisions, Administrative Officers, Schools and Faculties and take appropriate action thereon.

(c) To consider matters of professional interest and Faculty welfare and make recommendations to the President and other administrative officers concerned. Such recommendations shall be transmitted to the Board of Regents whenever its action is required.

Summaries of actions taken by the Faculty Council shall be sent to each member of the University Faculty within one week of each session of the Council.

All actions of the Faculty Council shall be subject to review by the University Faculty upon written request for an appeal made to the President by any ten members of the Faculty, within ten days of the mailing date of the summaries of action of the Council, and the action shall be reviewed at the next regular meeting of the Faculty or at a special meeting called for that purpose upon giving two weeks notice to all Faculty members.“

The Faculty Council included the following committees:

• Executive
• Elections & Apportionment
• Annuities & Salaries
• Faculty Regulations
• Appointments and Promotion
• Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Faculty Council Restructuring in the 1960s

By 1965, the Faculty Council had representation from 15 areas, up from eight in 1947, and included the following:

College of Engineering
College of Medicine
Social Sciences
College of Pharmacy
Biological Sciences
College of Nursing
College of Education
Math & Physical Science
College of Law
College of Business
Mines & Mineral Industries
Social Work
University Services (library + extension)
College of Fine Arts

In 1968, the Elections and Apportionment Committee studied faculty senates across the country and suggested the following changes for debate:

1. Increase elected membership from 50 to 77. Passed
2. Replace ballot system with department nominations. Passed
3. Instructors have the same rights to vote and be elected as faculty members of other ranks. Passed
4. The University Teaching Assistants Association should annually elect two of their number, representing at least two different areas, to serve as voting members of the Faculty Council. No member of the T.A. Association should serve more than one year. Passed
5. Two representative of the student body, chosen annually by ASUU, should be invited to attend Faculty Council meetings without the right to vote. Passed
6. Each department shall receive a copy of the full agenda and a copy of the full minutes of Faculty Council business as distributed to the members of Faculty Council. Each faculty member shall receive a summary of the agenda in advance of each meeting and a report of actions taken. The summary of the agenda should regularly contain an invitation to all members of the faculty to attend Faculty Council meetings of they so desire. Passed
7. The following faculty members should be ex officio members of the Faculty Council: The President, Provost, Academic Vice President, and Executive Vice President. These ex officio members shall have full rights of discussion and making motions but not the right to vote. Each Dean or an Associate or Assistant Dean appointed by him as his representative, should be an ex officio members of the Faculty Council. A Dean, or his nominee, in attendance at Faculty Council meetings should have full rights of discussion and to make motions on matters directly associated with his administrative area, but not the right to vote. Passed
8. The Faculty Council should elect a chairman of the council who should be the presiding officer. The chairman should have the usual voting power of a presiding officer. Passed
9. During the November session, the Faculty Council should elect by secret ballot an Executive Committee of ten members. The Chairman of the Faculty Council should serve as an eleventh member. The President of the University or his designee shall be an ex officio member of the Executive Committee. Passed
10. The duties and responsibilities of the Executive Committee were discussed and tabled with the recommendation that this be studied and reported to the Faculty Council by an ad hoc committee selected for this purpose. Passed
11. Every five years a committee should be formed to review the structure and functions of the Faculty Council. Passed

Elected Faculty Chair (Not Quite Yet)

With regards to debate item 8, the Council approved of the presiding officer being elected. A secondary motion was made requiring that the Faculty Council chair be a non-administrative member of the faculty, but it failed. While the body wanted it to be an elected position rather than a de facto administrator, they also wanted the Council to have a choice. Instead of requiring that nominees only be non-administrative faculty, they ended up leaving it open to either an administrator or a faculty member. Despite this vote, the chair remained a de facto administrator until 1990.


In response to the Utah Higher Education Act of 1969 instituting a single state board and establishing governance of individual institutions through citizen boards, the Regents suggested further changes after tasking an ad hoc committee to study the academic structure of the university. The committee suggested a Faculty Assembly of 40 (later dropped), a University Senate with faculty and students, and College/Area Councils.

Appointments and resignations became an appendix to the agenda in the December 1, 1969 meeting and the Council started using calendars—information, debate, consent—to organize the meetings in April 1970. College Councils were debated and established on November 2, 1970 and the name changed to University Senate on December 7, 1970. The idea of a Faculty Assembly was dropped.

1. More faculty involvement in the decision-making structure of the university through College Councils. Passed
2. Faculty Council would remain as is, but more students would be involved and two elected representatives from the Deans’ Council. Passed
3. The Faculty Council Executive Committee would become a Committee on Committees for the university. Passed
4. Set up review procedures and criteria for judgment of faculty and administrator effectiveness. Passed
5. Create three colleges from College of Letters and Science. Failed
6. Create position in the university to nurture the concept of liberal education. Passed
7. Involve faculty in the review of the university academic budget. Passed
8. Have deans report directly to the academic vice president. Passed

Executive Committee requirements that members be senators, not serve on other university committees, and not more than two of the 10 faculty members be from any single college were approved in October 1972. The Senate voted to allow colleges to run their own Senate elections in May 1973.

University Senate Restructuring in the 1970s

An ad hoc committee to study the operation of the Senate reduced the size from 96 to 75 members in 1974 and abolished the Executive Committee citing too much concentrated power. The committee instead distributed Senate authority among five new committees and a new composition:

• Agenda
• Personnel
• Budget advisory
• Academic policy
• Faculty-student ethics
Proposed New Composition
• 55 faculty members from undergraduate colleges with the present formula of allocating seats according to the number of faculty and student credit hours (55)
• Allocating two faculty members each to the professional schools of Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Social Work, and the Library (12)
• Shifting Military Science to the Social and Behavioral Science Area
• Reducing the student delegation from 17 to four (4)
• Retaining two teaching fellows and two deans, chosen by their respective bodies (4)

After extensive debate, the Senate held a special meeting on December 9, 1974, the body approved of only half the components:

• Utilize preferential balloting for Senate committees. Passed
• Reduce the size of the Senate as recommended. Failed
• Keep the Senate as is and add a budget committee and a personnel & elections committee. Passed
• Send the report back to the committee for review. Failed
• Apportion senate by areas of representation on a pro-rated basis of two-thirds according to student credit hours, including evening residence hours taught in each area during the preceding year of four quarters, and one-third according to the number of faculty members in each area. Failed
• Give research faculty full voting rights. Passed

Debate continued at the January 6, 1975 meeting. The recommendation to reduce student representation from 18 to 10 failed so did the idea of limiting professional schools and library membership to two faculty each. The ad hoc committee chairman disagreed with the Senate voting against these proposals and cited poor attendance on the part of the students and those from the professional schools, especially medicine as the reason for reducing the size of the Senate.

The Senate and central administration voted against the creation of the Budget Advisory Committee during the February 3, 1975 meeting stating that it would likely hinder the budgetary preparation and submission process, which President Gardner saw as his responsibility explaining that “the budgeting process is nothing more than the program of the University expressed in dollars” (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present). The proposed committee was empowered with analyzing and submitting for Senate review “the basic formulas used by the administration in allocating appropriations” (ibid.). The committee was also to “act as a sounding board for proposals from the administration or form line departments and divisions to shift assets as enrollment and priorities change, leaving to the Senate the adoption of guidelines to be forwarded to the administration” (ibid). Some senators as well as administrators spoke against this on the grounds that it would infringe on the budgetary rights and responsibilities of the administration.

Discussion on an elected presiding officer resurfaced, but failed again. The rationale behind the failed vote included budgetary implications and staffing.

Senate structure was debated on March 3 and 10, 1975:

• Executive Committee of 10 faculty elected by Senate and 2 students elected by ASUU with no more than two Senators from any one college. Passed
• Approve recommendation to create a Personnel & Elections Committee consisting of 18 Senators (one from each area) and 2 students. Passed
• Rename APAC to Academic Policy and Innovations Committee charged with additional responsibility or performing the “futures role” on the legislative side of the University, charting new goals for the University to pursue. Failed
• All Senate Committees are required to report annually to the Senate. Passed
• Senate Chairperson should prepare a manual on Senate organization and operations and basics of Senate procedures. Passed
• New business may be proposed at the beginning of a meeting and the specific nature of the business stated. The business will then normally be considered at the end of the meeting, but a motion may be made and passed to consider at the beginning of the meeting, prior to the regularly scheduled business on the agenda. Passed

A special meeting was held on May 12, 1975 to consider recommendations from an ad hoc committee regarding auxiliary faculty representation. The committee recommended excluding auxiliary faculty ranks from the senate and the motion passed. Auxiliary ranks at the time included adjunct, clinical, research, and visiting professors. The Division of Continuing Ed was also excluded from Senate representation.

University Senate Restructuring in the 1980s

An ad hoc committee on the Senate structure presented a draft report in May 1980. It included the Budget Advisory Committee again, new meeting day/time, and the creation of an Academic Forum Committee for the purpose of reviewing, discussing, and raising academic issues.

• Budget Advisory Committee. Passed
o 15 faculty currently Senators (one from each college)
• later amended to 16 to include academic librarians
o Provide advice and counsel to the president and other university administrative officers regarding faculty opinions and reactions to budget matters. Review financial and budgetary implications of proposals for changes in academic degrees and programs and submit reports to the Senate prior to their action on such proposals. Report to the Senate on fiscal and budget trends and issues that affect the University’s academic programs. (President Gardner liked this version)
• The Academic Forum committee. Failed
• New meeting time and day: first Monday of each month at 3 pm with debate items beginning no later than 3:30 pm. Passed

By 1984, the ad hoc committee addressed concerns that the Senate had lost its volume and found that the Senate “suffers from erosion of its sense of self [and occupies] itself with trivial or ceremonial matters while major policies are decided elsewhere” (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present, Senate summary: 14(6), 1986).

The main recommendation centered on “strengthening and politicizing the chairperson position by having the chairperson elected by the Senate, with all tenured professors eligible to run. The senate chairperson would also chair the Executive Committee” (ibid.). The chairperson “would be influential in determining senate issues and making sure senate committee and floor work get done [and] called for the chairperson to be released from teaching as necessary […]” (ibid.). The report recommended the following:

1. Orientation of New Senate Members
a. Annual
b. Re-instate and update A Handbook for the University Senate
2. Increasing the Involvement of the Senate and its Members in University Business
a. Revitalize Senate in all academic policy matters
3. Streamlining and Re-alignment of Senate Committees
a. Restructure Personnel & Elections as university-wide (not college-based) and remove students since they elect/populate via ASUU.
b. Abolish Budget Advisory Committee
c. Abolish Academic Policy Advisory Committee
d. Have five standing Senate Committees with ad hoc and other University committees focused on other areas:
i. Senate Executive Committee
ii. Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee
iii. Personnel and Elections Committee
iv. Annuities and Salaries Committee
v. Promotion and Tenure Advisory Committee
4. Restructuring of Senate and Executive Committee Chairs
a. Have the Senate elect its own chair who would also chair the EC and ex-officio on all Senate committee
b. President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Secretary of the Faculty serve as ex-officio on EC and Senate
5. Senate Representation
a. Maintain student voting memberships
6. The Senate and the Administration
a. Set aside time for updates from administration

The proposals were debated during the February 3, 1986 meeting with strong opposition to the elected position of chair, disbanding of APAC, and restricting Personnel & Elections as an at-large committee. Some senators objected to the Executive Committee’s strong role in offering alternatives to the ad hoc committee’s work; they felt it was not the committee’s job to do so. Rather, their job was to set the agenda, time limits, and advise the Senate as a whole. Debate continued at the March 3, 1986 meeting where the motion to abolish the Budget Advisory Committee passed, but motions to disband APAC and restructure P&E failed.

Consensus failed regarding the position of Senate leader. Some felt it should continue to be the Vice President for Academic Affairs, but others agreed with the ad hoc committee’s recommendation that it be an elected, non-administrative faculty member. The Executive Committee wanted a middle option where the Senate would elect a faculty and student liaison from the Senate who would serve on the EC to represent their constituencies. One senator proposed for the Senate to submit a list of nominees for chair to the University president and have him make the final decision. Another senator said “the Senate should be realistic about its powers and role. It is essentially a forum for exchange of information and has little policy making authority” (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present, Senate summary: 15(5), 1986). Other senators said “the problem with the present structure is that it makes the Senate responsive to someone else’s agenda” (ibid.). Motion to return the matter to committee for more study passed narrowly.

Another Budget Committee and Tenure

Despite the vote to abolish the Budget Advisory Committee in the March 1986 meeting, by the August 22, 1986 meeting, the Senate voted 25-16 “to establish a high-level faculty committee to advise the administration during the present budget cutting/reallocation process” (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present, Senate summary: 16(1), 1986). The Executive Committee served in this role during the summer, but the Senate did not want that to continue. It was voted to not allow students on the ad hoc panel. The committee was formed on the spot during the meeting with interested members giving brief speeches before elections.

New tenure policies and procedures were up for discussion at the December 1, 1986 meeting. The proposal streamlined the process from six steps to five for appeals: department, then college, then UPTAC (proposed to remove), then VP for Academic Affairs, and President. The report called for the creation of the RPT standards and appeal committee to be elected by the Senate and would replace ad hoc appeal committees in colleges. AFFR committee remained separate. Motion to dissolve UPTAC failed during debate on January 5, 1987 and on March 3, 1987, the Senate voted to reaffirm UPTAC’s role in hearing only disputed cases and all cases from single-department colleges. They also voted to establish the Committee on RPT Standards and Appeals to hear final appeals and review department and college RPT criteria.


The Senate approved changing the name from “University Senate” to “Academic Senate” during the April 6, 1987 meeting. The ad hoc committee recommended this to indicate the Senate’s “central role in all academic governance, for which its present constituencies—faculty, students, administration—are eminently appropriate […] even budget, planning, construction and landscaping […] (University of Utah Academic Senate 1959-present). The university’s first comprehensive speech policy passed during the April 6, 1987 meeting. The policy was drafted in response to U.S. District Judge Aldon Anderson enjoining the University to remove anti-apartheid shanties.

The Senate rejected the change to an elected chairperson by a substantial majority during a special meeting on April 20, 1987 since the university had re-established the Provost position in order to allow the Vice President for Academic Affairs to chair the Senate and generally serve as advocate for the faculty.

The Utah Legislature created a bill during the 1989 session, which the Academic Senate endorsed, to provide for non-voting faculty and staff representatives on Utah’s nine higher education institutional councils. Debate centered on whether or not the Governor would appoint the representatives or if they should be appointed/elected through a representative process at local institutions.

University and Academic Senate Restructuring in the 1990s

In March 1990, the Presidential Task Force to Examine the Academic Administrative Structure of the University studied the roles and relationships of the provost, academic vice president, and vice president for health sciences and how faculty input should be channeled to the administration.

The Senate endorsed the creation of the panel, but the Executive Committee disagreed on the proposal to combine the provost and academic vice president be combined into one position to act as the chief academic officer. It was understood by Senators that the academic vice president would serve as the faculty’s representative within administration; eliminating the office would diminish faculty input. As a result, the task force also addressed the relationship of the Academic Senate to central academic administration. The idea of an elected chair resurfaced during the March 5, 1990 meeting.

The slate for Senate chair was finalized at the June 4, 1990 meeting and selected by President Chase Peterson in mid-August. Until 1998, the meeting structure mirrored the order of business used by the 1960s Faculty Council. Currently, the Senate follows this meeting structure:

1. Call to Order
2. Approval of Minutes
3. Requests for New Business
4. Consent Calendar
5. Executive Committee Report
6. Report from Administration
7. Report from ASUU
8. Notices of Intent
9. Debate Calendar
10. Information Calendar
11. New Business
12. Adjournment
At various times since the 2000s, faculty members have presented White Papers as part of the agenda to describe broader issues in higher education and build on the cultural role the Senate plays at the university.

Appendix II: Academic Senate Presidents

1990-1991 – Leslie Francis, Law and Philosophy**
1991-1992 – Bruce Landesman, Philosophy* **
1992-1993 – Sandra Taylor, History* **
1993-1994 – John McCullough, Anthropology
1994-1995 – John Francis, Political Science
1995-1996 – Dixie Huefner, Education*
1996-1997 – Susan Chesteen, Business*
1997-1998 – Linda Smith, Law
1998-1999 – Kenneth Jameson, Economics
1999-2000 – Charles Wight, Chemistry*
2000-2001 – Theresa Martinez, Sociology
2001-2002 – Larry Meyer, Dermatology
2002-2003 – Katharine Coles, English
2003-2004 – Andrew Gitlin, Educational Studies*
2004-2005 – K. Larry DeVries, Mechanical Engineering
2005-2006 – Robert Flores, Law
2006-2007 – Kirtly Parker Jones, Obstetrics & Gynecology
2007-2008 – Penny Brooke, College of Nursing
2008-2009 – Paul Mogren, Marriott Library
2009-2010 – Jim Anderson, Communication
2010-2011 – James E. Metherall, Human Genetics*
2011-2012 – Patricia Hanna, Linguistics and Philosophy
2012-2013 – Robert Fujinami, Pathology
2013-2014 – Allyson Mower, Marriott Library
2014-2015 – Stephen Alder, Public Health
2015-2016 – Bill Johnson, Geology & Geophysics
2016-2017 – Mardie Clayton, Nursing
2017-2018 – Tom Richmond, Chemistry

*Retired/No longer at the University of Utah
**Senate Nominated/University President Selected