The Faculty Senate

The Role of the Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate speaks and acts on behalf of the University Faculty, particularly in its areas of primacy, which include, curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process and participation in determination of policies and procedures governing salary increases. Since teaching and research (including creative work) are the very purpose of an academic institution and the reason why the public values and supports it, the faculty have a special status within the institution. Consequently, “…the faculty’s voice should be authoritative in its areas of primacy in that it is “a necessary condition for the protection of academic freedom within the institution.” The 1994 AAUP Statement on the Relationship of Faculty Governance to Academic Freedom, jointly formulated by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), observes that “sound governance practice and the exercise of academic freedom are closely connected, arguably inextricably linked” and that “a sound system of institutional governance is a necessary condition for the protection of faculty rights and thereby for the most productive exercise of essential faculty freedoms.” Consequently, The 1966 Statement affirms that “the power of review or final decision lodged in the governing board or delegated by it to the president should be exercised adversely only in exceptional circumstances, and for reasons communicated to the faculty,” and that “the faculty should, following such communication, have opportunity for further consideration and further transmittal of its views to the president or board.” It is in this spirit and according to these principles that the Faculty Senate exercises its responsibility for ensuring shared governance at Wake Forest University.  

According to 1966 Statement, “The variety and complexity of the tasks performed by institutions of higher education produce an inescapable interdependence among governing board, administration, faculty, students, and others. The relationship calls for adequate communication among these components, and full opportunity for appropriate joint planning and effort.” Delineating the different areas of responsibility of the Governing Board, the President and the Faculty, the Statement notes that the “…decision-making participation of all the institutional components, and differences in the weight of each voice, from one point to the next, should be determined by reference to the responsibility of each component for the particular matter at hand.”

The Organization of the Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate is composed of thirty-seven elected faculty members from the seven Schools of Wake Forest University.  Wake Forest College has fifteen; the School of Medicine eight; the Schools of Business six; the School of Law three; the Graduate School two; the Z Smith Reynolds Library two; and the School of Divinity one representative(s) in the Faculty Senate.  The faculty of each school independently elects its respective representatives.  Senators serve four-year terms, and may serve for more than one term.  There are also ten ex-officio (non-voting) members of the Senate:  the President, Provost and Chief Financial Officer of the University and the seven respective Deans of the Schools of the University.

The Faculty Senate advises the university administration and the Boards of Trustees on all pertinent matters related to planning and the general welfare of the University.  The Faculty Senate also provides advice to relevant selection committees for the appointment of senior administrative officers; and recommends through the University President to the Boards of Trustees persons to receive honorary degrees awarded by the University.

The Faculty Senate has five standing committees:  Planning; Resources; University Integration; Fringe Benefits; and Senior University Appointments.  The Senate also directs the agenda of the University Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility.  The Senate may also create additional standing or ad hoc committees.  An Executive Committee consisting of the five officers of the Senate – president, past-president, vice-president, secretary, and member-at-large – and the chairpersons of the four standing committees provides overall policy direction for the Faculty Senate.