Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the University Senate?
  • What does the Senate do?
  • What is Shared Governance?
  • Who Serves on the Senate?
  • What does a Senator do?
  • What is the time committment if I am elected to the Senate?
  • What types of proposals does the Senate review?
  • Where do proposals come from?
  • How can I submit a proposal for review by the Senate?
  • To whom does the Senate report?
  • What is the difference between the Senate and the SGA (Student Government Association)/GSG (Graduate Student Government)?
  • When and where does the Senate meet?
  • When can someone run for the Senate and what is the Process?
  • Am I eligible to run for the senate?
  • How can I become a Senator?
  • If I am changing my majors, can I run for election in my new college?
  • Can Senate candidates campaign?
  • When and how are election results announced?
  • Are there other ways that I can be involved with the Senate aside from serving as a Senator?
  • What do Senate committees do?
  • 1. What is the University Senate?

    The Senate is one of the largest and most powerful governing bodies on campus. It provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, students, and administrators to participate in shared governance. The Senate votes on policy-related issues and other governing aspects that directly affect the day-to-day functions of the University. Much of the Senate's work is completed in the thirteen standing committees, which report to the full Senate periodically throughout the year.

    2. What does the Senate do?

    The primary function of the Senate is to advise the University President on any matter or concern, including but not limited to, education, budget, personnel, campus-community, long range plans, facilities, and faculty, staff and student affairs (subject to the limitations imposed by laws or mandates from the University of Maryland System Board of Regents or the Chancellor). This broad charge brings virtually all campus policy matters within the purview of the Senate. The Senate meets on a monthly basis to vote on proposals and other matters as submitted by its committees and constituents.

    3. What is Shared Governance?

    Shared Governance is the practice of faculty, staff, and students coming together to discuss, review, and suggest change to current and new University policies and procedures. Through Shared Governance, all constituents have the opportunity to participate in important decisions regarding the successful operation of our University. Shared Governance is essentially the custom of open and honest communication amongst all constituents.

    4. Who Serves on the Senate?

    Senators are elected representatives of all constituencies of the campus community, including faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students. A summary of the Senate seats is available here. For specific information go to: http://www.senate.umd.edu/elections/apportionment/. The full Senate is composed of approximately 165 elected senators and 16 Deans. A complete listing of all of the current senators can be found at: http://www.senate.umd.edu/senators/

    5. What does a Senator do?

    As a Senator you would be responsible for reviewing materials (e.g. legislation, University policies), attending monthly meetings, and voting on reports and proposals as presented by Senate committees and other entities at each Senate meeting. Senators elect the members of the Executive Committee, the Chair-Elect, and other University & System councils and committees. Senators also have the opportunity to interact with the administration and other campus leaders. Finally, Senators can serve on or Chair a Senate standing committee, or may be elected to the Executive Committee (the Executive Committee serves as a gateway to anything brought to the Senate floor).

    Faculty and Staff Senators serve a three year term. Undergraduate and Graduate Student Senators serve one year terms on the Senate. Faculty and Staff Senators must take a one year break following their third year of service before serving another term.

    6. What is the time commitment if I am elected to the Senate?

    Senators are expected to attend Senate meetings approximately once a month and to review materials before each meeting. The Senate meets nine times each academic year, and does not meet during the winter or summer breaks. Each meeting is one hour and 45 minutes from 3:15pm-5:00pm. Meeting materials are available online one week prior to each meeting. The current meeting schedule can be found here:

    7. What types of proposals does the Senate review?

    The Senate has been involved with reviewing proposals for the University's Strategic Plan, Good Samaritan legislation, a Campus-Wide Smoking Ban, Open-Access to Scholarly Publications, Prayer at Commencement, Climate Action Plan, 30-Credit Hour Residency Rule, the Arbitrary and Capricious Grading Policy, and the new General Education plan, to name a few.

    8. Where do proposals come from?

    Members of the campus community can submit proposals for review of any policies or procedures, as well as the creation and establishment of new policies.

    9. How can I submit a proposal for review by the Senate?

    You can email proposals and relevant supporting documents to the Senate Office at senate-admin@umd.edu. For examples on what to include in a proposal, click here.

    10. To whom does the Senate report?

    The Senate directly advises the President of the University.

    11. What is the difference between the Senate and the SGA (Student Government Association)/GSG (Graduate Student Government)?

    The SGA and GSG are governmental bodies made up entirely of undergraduate and graduate students respectively. As such, the main roles of the SGA and GSG are to advocate for causes that students care about, to support student organizations, and to plan and organize events for students. The University Senate differs in that it is representative of all campus constituencies (faculty, staff, and students) and works directly with the University President.

    Often the legislatures of the SGA and GSG pass resolutions related to items that the Senate is reviewing. The presidents of the SGA and the GSG are ex-officio members of the Senate, and they frequently speak on behalf of the undergraduate and graduate student bodies at Senate meetings. There are also ex-officio SGA and GSG representatives on Senate committees.

    12. When and where does the Senate meet?

    The current Senate meeting schedule can be found here: http://www.senate.umd.edu/meetings/schedule/

    Typically, the Senate meets 4-5 times each academic semester. Senate meetings are held on campus and are open to the public. Anyone may attend and observe a Senate meeting. While members of the public may not vote, they can speak on the Senate floor if they are first introduced by a Senator.

    13. When can someone run for the Senate and what is the Process?

    The Senate has a timeline for the candidacy and election periods for all constituencies. Typically, Senate elections are held annually from January through March. To find the dates for the candidacy and election periods, go to: http://www.senate.umd.edu/elections/timeline.cfm.

    Elections for full-time tenured/tenure-track (T/TT) and professional track (PTK) faculty are held within their units and the Senate Office is notified of elected Faculty Senators (faculty should contact their Dean or unit head for more information). Senate elections for staff (exempt, non-exempt, and contingent II), undergraduate and graduate students (full & part-time), emeritus faculty, part-time PTK faculty, and PTK faculty with entry-level titles, are conducted by the Senate Office on our website. These elections consist of two parts: a sign-up period and an election period.

    • Sign-Up Period: constituents interested in running for a seat on the Senate submit their names for placement on the electronic ballots. Candidates also submit a statement to be included on the ballot and seen by their peers during the elections.
    • Election Period: members of the campus community review the candidacy statements and vote for new Senators. The electronic voting system will automatically route you by category to your ballot (e.g. BSOS Undergraduates vote for BSOS Undergrad Senators, Exempt Staff from Divisions vote for Exempt Staff from Divisions, etc.)

    The Senate Office notifies the campus community annually with information on how to run for the Senate and when to vote for new Senators.

    14. Am I Eligible to Run for the Senate?

    Any member of the campus community may run to be elected to the Senate. Senators are categorized by their primary appointment within the University and are only eligible to run based on their faculty, staff, or student status. For instance, full-time staff members who take classes part-time are eligible to run as a staff member but not as a student, and students who work on campus are eligible to run as a student but not as a staff member. Staff must be a part of the campus community for one year before being eligible to serve on the Senate. Faculty must have been under contract at least since August of the academic year during which the election is held before serving. Students must fulfill the Senate's eligibility requirements. Specific eligibility guidelines can be found at: http://www.senate.umd.edu/elections/eligibility.cfm

    15. How can I become a Senator?

    You must submit a candidacy application at the start of the spring semester by going to: http://senate.umd.edu/elections/run.cfm As part of your application, you will need to submit a candidacy statement (no more than 200 words). This statement can be edited up to the candidacy deadline by logging back in through the link above. Members of your consistuency can vote for you by going to: http://www.senate.umd.edu/elections/vote.cfm

    16. If I am changing my majors, can I run for election in my new college?

    No. You can only run for a seat in the college that you are registered for at the time of the election.

    17. Can Senate candidates campaign?

    The Senate Office does not endorse or fund candidate campaigns. If you choose to campaign, you must abide by the University guidelines for advertising (e.g. flyers or posters). A complete list of guidelines can be found at: http://www.thestamp.umd.edu/reservations/handbook.html#advert

    18. When and how are election results announced?

    Election results are sent via email to candidates and the campus community the day after the voting deadline. All results will also be posted on the Senate website at: http://www.senate.umd.edu/elections/results/

    19. How can I get involved with the Senate aside from serving as a Senator?

    As a member of the University you are invited to volunteer to serve on any of the Senate's standing committees. A list of all Senate committees and information about the work they do can be found at: http://www.senate.umd.edu/committees/. You do not have to be a Senator to serve on a Senate committee. Each spring, a University-wide email will announce the open volunteer period. At this time you may sign-up online to serve on a committee that has vacancies for your constituency and category. When you sign up, only those committees with open spots will appear on your preference form. The Senate Committee on Committees makes final placements of volunteers on committees.

    20. What do Senate committees do?

    Senate committees receive charges from the Senate Executive Committee or from members of the committee itself. After research and deliberation, committees write reports in response to charges and submit them to the Executive Committee for consideration. As a committee member, you would be responsible for studying materials, attending meetings, and contributing to the discussion on major policy implementation, changes, and review.

    For examples of current legislation please click here: http://www.senate.umd.edu/senateBills/currentBills.cfm

    Faculty and Staff committee members serve a two-year term. Ex-Officio members, Graduate Students, and Undergraduate Students serve one-year-terms on committees.