March 31, 1994
Vol. 13, No. 14

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    Nominations sought for Council of University Senate

    Members of the University Senate are being asked to nominate fellow members to the Council of the University Senate. Ballots have been mailed to senate members, and nominations are due Monday, April 4. Election ballots will be mailed Wednesday, April 6.

    The council, which consists of 51 members elected by the senate, is the supreme academic body of the University. Its jurisdiction includes matters that affect more than one ruling body and any action by a ruling body that affects the broader University community.

    "The University of Chicago has a long tradition of faculty governance," said Provost Geoffrey Stone. "In this time of limited financial resources, it is more important than ever that faculty undertake this responsibility."

    Seventeen of the council's members are elected each April to serve three-year terms beginning Sept. 25. The council normally meets once a month during autumn, winter and spring quarters.

    Proposals and reports are first considered by the Committee of the Council, a seven-member group that reviews all matters of educational policy within the jurisdiction of the Council of the University Senate. After discussion by the committee, matters are brought to the council. The Committee of the Council meets every two weeks during the academic year; the President and Provost act as chairman and vice chairman, respectively.

    Richard Epstein, the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, is the current spokesman of the committee.

    "With the advent of a new president, the council has taken on a stronger advisory role this year," Epstein said. "President Sonnenschein is committed to governance that includes broad, long-term planning, and I expect the council to continue to play an advisory role in planning for the University's future."

    The council serves multiple functions, Epstein said. "A huge part of what we do is inform the University community about special events and special issues. We get and give advice, pass information on and give approval to certain decisions, including honorary degrees and the creation of new programs. This requires discussion and debate, and, sometimes, there are things we stop -- we are not a rubber stamp," he said.

    An unusual aspect of the council is the method by which its members are elected. Ballots are tallied using the Hare system of proportional representation, an elaborate mechanism in which faculty members rank their order of preference for each candidate nominated. The voter's first choice is counted if the vote can help elect that choice. But if that candidate has enough votes to secure election, or has too few votes to be elected, then the voter's second choice will receive that vote. This elimination process continues until each vote is given to the person it will help most. This structure may mean a faculty member's fourth or fifth preference will be instrumental in placing someone on the council.

    The University Senate consists of professors, associate professors and assistant professors who have completed one year of full-time service on academic appointment. For more information about the upcoming election, members may contact Kineret Jaffe, Secretary of the Faculties, at 702-7368.

    In addition to the University Senate, ruling bodies of the University include the faculties of the College, the graduate divisions and the professional schools, as well as the five University boards: the Board of the Library, the Board of Continuing Studies, the Board of University Publications, the Board of Computing Activities & Services and the Board of Athletics & Recreational Sports.