Skip to content Skip to navigation

Handbook Pager

1.2.8 The Senate of the Academic Council

Last updated on:
Friday, September 1, 2017
Formerly Known As Policy Number: 

The Senate of the Academic Council was established by the Charter of the Senate, approved by the Academic Council on April 11, 1968 and ratified by the Board of Trustees on May 16, 1968, with subsequent amendments. The Senate exercises the deliberative and legislative functions of the Academic Council which, in general, has the power and responsibility for the academic administration of the University subject to limitations by the Board of Trustees. For more information refer to the Articles of Organization of the Academic Council, Chapter IV. Since 1993 the Senate has been composed of fifty-five members of the Academic Council apportioned as follows:

Graduate School of Business 3
Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences 2
Graduate School of Education 2
Engineering 11
Humanities and Sciences 24
Law 2
Medicine 9
Special Administrative Group 1

Members of the Senate serve a two-year, staggered term. The Charter of the Senate of the Academic Council also provides for 15 ex officio members without the right to vote. The Rules of the Senate of the Academic Council (available from the Academic Secretary or on-line at, provide for three standing guests from the Associated Students of Stanford University. Student guests, like ex officio members, have the right to speak, but not the right to vote.

For any given academic year, the Senate elects a Chair and six other members to serve with the President or a designee of the President (usually the Provost) as the Steering Committee of the Senate. The first duty of the Steering Committee-elect is to appoint, from the members of the Senate-elect, a Chair and six other members to serve as the Committee on Committees of the Senate.

The Steering Committee of the Senate receives reports from Academic Council Committees and plans subjects for study and discussion by the Senate. The Committee on Committees performs several functions — nominating and appointing Academic Council members to serve on committees, as well as recommending the establishment of new committees and the discontinuance of existing ones.

The Senate refrains from taking action on any matter that is properly the concern of one of the Committees of the Academic Council. Only after the matter has been considered and reported on by the appropriate Academic Council Committee does the Senate take action — generally by acting on a recommendation from that committee. For the enactment of legislation governing the scholarly and teaching work of the University, the Senate of the Academic Council is the authorized body, but there are extensive provisions whereby any decision of the Senate can be challenged and made the subject for review and referendum by the Academic Council.

The Charter of the Senate of the Academic Council provides that meetings of the Senate shall be open to all members of the Academic Council, and that all decisions of each Senate meeting and the votes by which the decisions were taken shall be reported in writing to every member of the Academic Council within seven days after the meeting. The issue of Stanford Report published in the week following a Senate meeting always includes that Senate report.