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Academic Senate records

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-14.1

Scope and Contents

Series 1: The Faculty This series consists of two indexes and four subseries. The first index is for the minutes of meetings for 1857-1925 and the second is for 1929-1942. Both are indexes to actions taken by the Faculty. Index headings include alumni scholarships, athletics, administration and buildings, courses and curricula, commencement, fees, grades and examinations, military science, organization of societies and clubs, registration and enrollment, and student social rules and governance. The indexes may be incomplete and entries are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries 1: Minutes of Meetings is the restricted official summaries of faculty meetings, documenting deliberations on curriculum, courses, athletics, and other University concerns within the purview of the faculty. Before 1896, decisions regarding individual cases of student misconduct constitute a large part of the record. Committee reports of varying detail are also included. These records are restricted in accordance with the “University Guidelines Governing Privacy and the Release of Student Records.” It is arranged chronologically.

Subseries 2: Minutes of Meetings is a microfilmed copy of subseries 1.

Subseries 3: Miscellaneous Records includes student petitions for the scheduling of social events, formation of organizations, curriculum changes, and various other purposes; notices, announcements, schedules, and programs; and lists of periodicals held by the library. It is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Subseries 4: Constitutions of Student Organizations is arranged alphabetically by organization. Series 2: The Academic Senate This series includes four subseries.

Subseries 1: Minutes of Meetings and Supporting Documents is the official minutes of meetings and supporting documents compiled by the Secretary for Academic Governance. Meeting minutes consist of a list of attendees and a summary of presentations made, but generally report no discussion on the floor. Supporting documents include agenda prepared by the Steering Committee, reports on course and curriculum changes, memoranda from committee chairmen and administrative officers of the University, annual reports of the Athletic Council and the Academic Council, and special reports of ad hoc committees. In a few instances, formal presentations made to the Senate are recorded verbatim. The most extensively considered topic is the reorganization of the faculty. There are also significant presentations on the use of the emeritus title (1957); the administration of doctoral programs (1947-1959); the elimination of a compulsory Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) Program (1959); and policies on smoking on campus (1955), student cheating (1961 and 1963); grading (1964, 1968, and 1969), student academic freedom (1967), and student participation in academic governance (1970). Proposals for academic programs leading to Ph.D. degrees in Communication Arts (1958) and Foreign Languages (1961) and to the MBA and MFA degrees (1947) are also included. Minutes dating from after 1971 are interfiled with the Academic Council Minutes and Supporting Documents (see record group UA 14.3). This is arranged chronologically.

Subseries 2 is a microfilmed copy of subseries 1. For minutes of the February 4, 1958 meeting, see paper copy filed in series 1.

Subseries 3: Agenda and Minutes of Meetings includes the agenda prepared by the Steering Committee and official summaries of meetings compiled by the Secretary for Academic Governance. It is arranged chronologically.

Subseries 4 is a microfilm copy and identical in content to subseries 3 described above.

Subseries 5: Recordings of Meetings includes the cassette tape recordings of Senate meetings. For an indication of topics discussed, see minutes of Senate meetings found interfiled with the Academic Council minutes and Supporting Documents.


  • Creation: 1857 - 1995


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Series 3 and 4 have restricted access.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Historical Note

The Faculty

During the first forty years of Michigan State University’s history, the “Faculty” exercised both executive and legislative powers. They met weekly, with the president acting as moderator, to deliberate and vote on college matters ranging from curriculum and academic policy to individual cases of student misconduct. The faculty also constituted committees to deal with such concerns as the catalog, admission examinations and standards, operation of the museum and library, athletics, college buildings, the granting of graduate degrees, room inspection, and student absences from military drill and required work.

Under President Snyder (1896-1915) a distinction between legislative and executive functions emerged. The president assumed responsibility for student discipline. Weekly faculty meetings were replaced by monthly ones as the daily administration of the College became the province of the deans or committees appointed by and responsible to the president. But the faculty continued to act on academic policy and curriculum, as well as to handle many student problems.

Initially, participation in faculty meetings was restricted to those holding the rank of professor. Associate professors were permitted to vote beginning in 1890. Assistant professors and instructors gained some voice in academic affairs when President John Hannah invited them to attend the first faculty Meeting held each term.

By the 1950s, the faculty had grown to over 800 members, and faculty meetings had become too large to permit extended debate and discussion. In order to govern more effectively, the faculty voted in 1955 to discontinue meeting as the “Faculty” and to reorganize as three All-University bodies: the Academic Assembly, Academic Senate, and Academic Council.

The Academic Senate

The 1955 Bylaws for Academic Governance and their subsequent revisions of 1958, 1961, 1968, 1971, and 1975, vest the authority of the faculty in two legislative bodies, the Academic Senate, and an elected council (now called the Faculty Council). The Senate most closely resembles, in terms of membership, what was known before as the “Faculty” (see Faculty Meeting Records).

The Academic Senate acts on revisions to the bylaws, issues raised by the elected council or by individual faculty, and matters which the Senate itself wishes to consider. Generally these are issues of major importance relating to educational policy, curricula, and tenure, referred to it by the elected council. Since the abolition of the Academic Assembly in 1961, the Senate has also served as a forum for the dissemination of ideas and information between the faculty and the administration.

Originally membership was restricted to tenured faculty, the deans of the colleges, and certain members of the University, ex-officio. In 1961 it was expanded to include all faculty appointed under the rules of tenure holding the rank of professor, associate professor, or instructor, and all administrative officers holding academic rank excepting the president and provost.

The 1955 requirement of a minimum of one meeting each term was reduced in the early 1970s to a minimum of one meeting a year to be held during the fall quarter. Either the Steering Committee or the president may call the Senate into special session.

Sources: This is MSU (Facts book), 1956-1981 Faculty Handbooks, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1964, 1966-1968, 1970, 1971,1978, 1981 Bylaws for Academic Governance, 1955, 1958, 1971, 1968


1 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Two series: 1: The Faculty. 2. The Academic Senate.

Custodial History

Materials were gifts of Madison Kuhn and William Combs.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University.

Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Academic Senate Records
4 Published And Cataloged
M. Patton
May 1981
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US