April 11, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 15

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    Ballots due April 17 for council nominations

    The deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 17, for members of the University Senate to nominate fellow members to the Council of the University Senate, the supreme academic body of the University. Ballots have been mailed to senate members.

    The council consists of 51 members elected by the senate. 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 relies heavily on faculty governance," said Provost Geoffrey Stone. "The values the faculty members bring to bear in debates in the council play an essential role in shaping the mission and future of the institution."

    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.

    "All matters of educational policy pass through the council," said Stephen Stigler, the Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor in Statistics and current spokesperson of the committee. "It is our chance to set the future course of the University. It is where we review proposals for new programs and provide for maintenance of the old."

    The council has been an important part of how the University copes with major upheaval, Stigler said. In times of student rebellion or major faculty issues, the council has provided a forum in which all sides of the issue could be aired and a resolution decided by the faculty.

    "Immediate questions before the council are discussions of President Sonnenschein's response to the report of the task forces on graduate and undergraduate education and the possibility of a new department and associated degree program in biological sciences," Stigler 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 it can help elect that candidate. 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 means that a faculty member's fourth or fifth preference may 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 of the senate may contact Susan Kastendiek, Secretary of the Faculties, at 702-7368.

    In addition to the University Senate, the 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.