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Faculty Governance

Main Quad

Stanford has a long and distinguished history of active faculty governance. Prior to 1968, Stanford faculty exercised its authority via an Executive Committee of the Academic Council as articulated in the Articles of Organization of the Faculty (1904), later revised as the Articles of Organization of the Academic Council in 1977. Ten faculty members were elected to this committee from the Academic Council. As the faculty continued to grow, the Academic Council became too large to effectively discharge its responsibilities. The Senate was created in response.

For more information, see An Overview of University Governance.

The Senate 


The Faculty Senate is the legislative body of the Academic Council and has responsibility for academic and research policy as well as the authority to grant degrees. In addition to formulating policy, the Senate reviews, via its committees,  several types of curriculum matters: proposals or reviews of degree granting programs, and, periodically, broad curriculum reforms resulting from ad hoc university level review committees which examine university wide curriculum issues such as general education requirements, writing requirements and other similar programs for all undergraduates. The Senate also reviews interdisciplinary degree granting programs (IDPs) as well as proposals for new degree granting programs, including honors and joint degree programs (JDPs) and name changes of departments and programs.  

Committee Matrix

The Senate discharges its academic and research policy and oversight responsibilities via seven standing Committees of the Academic Council. These committees are charged by the Senate.  There are four Senate committees, the Committee on Committees, the Steering Committee, the Committee of Tellers and the Planning and Policy Board.


The Senate is composed of 55 voting members serving staggered 2 year terms and 15 ex officio members. Standing guest seats are reserved for the student representatives, the Registrar,  the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, the Vice Provost of Faculty Development and Diversity and the Emeriti Council representative. The Chair, Vice Chair and Steering Committee members are elected from within the Senate body. 


Members of the Academic Council are eligible to serve on the Senate and are placed in units based on school and discipline. Senators are elected annually by the Hare System of Proportional Representation; all Academic Council faculty may vote for faculty within their unit. Elected Senators serve as free agents, not as representatives of a particular program, unit or school. The number of seats per unit is allocated relative to the size of the school and disciplines within that unit. 

The Steering Committee is elected by the incoming Senate from a slate of Senators nominated by the Committee on Committees. One of the new StC's first tasks is to appoint members of the incoming Senate to serve on the Committee on Committees. 

Full Professors in the Academic Council are also elected to the Advisory Board, which handles the promotion and tenure of Academic Council faculty. 

University Governance

You can find more information on university governance and administration, including the offices of the President and Provost, at


The Senate and Academic Secretary's Office welcome feedback on Senate meetings. If you have a suggestion for an agenda item or any other comments, please send them to Adrienne Emory, Assistant Academic Secretary, at