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February 20, 2006

University Statutes and Senate Procedures
(Final; Action)

SP.06.04 Change to Senate Standing Rule 13 to Require Faculty Votes for Changes to Academic Units


The University of Illinois Statutes, Article VIII, Sections 1 and 2, provide procedures to be followed in the formation or change of academic units, such as departments, schools, and colleges. Several paragraphs in these sections require that the proposal be submitted “together with the advice of the faculty” of the unit and higher-level units, such as the parent school or college.

Recently, contradictory interpretations of this quoted phrase have arisen in the course of processing proposals of this type. Various administrators and committees have surmised that the phrase “advice of the faculty” merely requires some form of advice that may be given by any method (such as one-on-one consultation) chosen by administrators. Others contend the phrase is intended to require a vote of the faculty at each level.

The Committee on University Statutes and Senate Procedures (USSP) believes that this ambiguity is resolved by the legislative history of the Senate’s original discussion of these statutory provisions. The phrase “The advice of each unit involved shall be requested” was inserted into Article VIII, Section 2 of the Statutes by SP.80.03. USSP has examined the documentation relating to SP.80.03, including the University Senates Conference documents (ST-2) and the transcript of the UIUC Senate meeting on May 3, 1982. In particular, the transcript of the May 3, 1982 discussion of SP.80.03 shows that the Senate clearly intended that the phrase “advice of each unit involved shall be requested” should require a vote of the concerned faculty at each level.

To clarify the meaning of the phrase “advice of the faculty,” an amendment to the Statutes is necessary. Amending the Statutes is a lengthy process, often taking two years or more. In the meantime, other unit reorganization proposals may well come before the Senate for action.

USSP therefore proposes an interim action: an amendment to the Standing Rules of the Senate that would apply to the Urbana-Champaign Senate’s consideration of formation or changes of academic units. Standing Rule 13, Hearings on the Termination, Separation, Transfer or Merger of Units is an appropriate place for such an amendment. This Rule already provides particular procedures for this campus--namely a requirement for a public hearing on such a change and official minutes of hearings. USSP proposes including a specific requirement that a faculty vote be taken at each level and reported to the Senate for its consideration in connection with any proposal for formation or change of academic units.

It should be noted that a negative vote of the faculty would not necessarily be fatal to a proposed unit change under either this proposed amendment to the Standing Rules or a similar amendment to the Statutes. There may be circumstances in which the Senate would vote favorably on a change despite negative votes by some faculty units. Nevertheless, a vote of the affected faculty should be taken and should be available to the Senate for its deliberations.


The Senate Committee on University Statutes and Senate Procedures recommends approval of the following revisions to the Standing Rules of the Senate. Text to be deleted is in [square brackets] and text to be added is underscored.


13. [Hearings on the] Formation, Termination, Separation, Transfer, [or] Merger, Change in Status, or Renaming of Units

A. In order to provide for active discussion of a proposal for termination, separation, transfer, [or] merger, or change in status of any academic unit, the originator of the proposal (e.g., Dean of College, Chair of Budget Strategies Committee, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs) and the Chair of the Senate Committee on Educational Policy shall, well in advance of the proposal being forwarded to the Senate, determine an appropriate forum for a public hearing and appoint a person to chair the hearing. The originator of the proposal and Chair of the Senate Committee on Educational Policy (or their designees) shall attend the meeting. Responsibility for providing a meeting place, publicizing the hearing, preparing minutes, and collecting written comments shall rest with the originator of the proposal. The Senate Committee on Educational Policy shall be responsible for assuring that all of these tasks are completed in an acceptable manner. Minutes shall be taken and forwarded to the Senate; a full transcription of the hearing is not necessary. The chair of the hearing shall encourage presenters to provide written comments that shall be forwarded to the Senate.

B. In any proposal for the formation or change in academic organization (such as, termination, separation, transfer, merger, change in status, or renaming) of an academic unit, as provided in the University Statutes, Article VIII, the advice of the faculty at each level (e.g., department, school, college, as applicable) shall be taken and recorded by vote of the faculty. Voting shall be as provided in the bylaws of each unit. The vote shall be reported to the Senate by the Committee on Educational Policy when the proposed change is considered by the Senate.

University Statutes and Senate Procedures

Linda Beale, Chair
Thomas Bassett
H. George Friedman
Michael Grossman
William Maher
Vera V. Mainz
Shannon McMullen
Laura Pime
Robert C. Damrau, Ex officio
Larry Mann, Observer
Peg Rawles, Ex officio