Since 1971, the College Senate has guided, informed, and decisively acted upon issues of primary concern to SUNY Buffalo State's academic community. In the early 1970s, the College Senate evolved from a triumvirate comprised of a Faculty Council, Student Council, and an Administrative Council to its current form including stronger student representation and expansive discourse between administration and faculty.
The College Senate, in its current form, came into being in 1971. It replaced what had been a tripartite system of governance that consisted of a Faculty Council, a Student Council, and an Administrative Council. While these deliberated as separate bodies, each provided for specific representation from the other councils so that there was communication among them and some interlocking via membership. However, this form of governance not only proved to be cumbersome, but also prone to foster divisiveness since it encouraged the practice of presenting issues and proposals most likely to be sympathetic on a given issue. In addition to the Faculty Council, the Student Council, and the Administrative Council, another group acted in an advisory capacity to the President of the College and was widely perceived as a "kitchen cabinet."
The original proposal for the present Senate included all the constituencies now represented except students. There was strong feeling in the college community both for and against the inclusion of students as voting members. The inclusion of students and number of student Senators (12) is a result of a series of compromises between those who had proposed and those who opposed seating students as Senators.
College Senate Website
In 1997, the College Senate Curriculum Committee established a Web site to facilitate communication about curricular matters. In 1999, a separate Web site for the full Senate was established. In 2001, the approved minutes of the College Senate began to be posted on the Web site regularly. Maintenance of the College Senate and of the College Senate electronic elections (introduced in spring 2000, and formally approved as an option in fall 2000) has been informal, based on interest/talent of senators and members of standing committees of the Senate. In 2007, the College Senate Web Site was redesigned. The site maintenance is the responsibility of the College Senate Office and corrections/additions for the site should be directed to the Assistant of the College Senate. The revamped College Senate Website was relaunched in 2015.
As the key consultive directorate on campus, the College Senate is guided by a strictly adhered to set of standing rules and derives its authority from the College By-Laws. Simply stated, the College Senate is designed to provide organizational structure for issues concerning the college and act as a forum, agent, and advocate for faculty, staff, and students.
The College Senate is the principle deliberative and advisory body of the college, established in the by-laws of the college as " ... the official agency through which the faculty and students engage in the governance of the college." It is from the College By-Laws that the Senate derives its authority. The Senate itself has a set of standing rules to govern the conduct of operations.
The College Senate is intended to serve as:
A forum in which representatives of faculty, staff, students, and administration interact. The consultative and advisory functions performed by the Senate continue those functions which had been provided by each of the three separate Councils
The agent of the college community which holds the administration, through the office of the President, accountable for actions taken and decisions made
An advocate for that system of governance which has been agreed to by the various constituencies of the college and approved in the College By-Laws by the eligible voting faculty, the President, the College Council, the Chancellor, and the SUNY Board of Trustees
The organizational structure through which faculty, staff, students and administration will be involved in issues of concern to the college.
Sphere of Influence
The College Senate has deliberately avoided intrusion into certain areas of governance. It has, for example, never attempted to impose standards for selection of representatives from the various constituencies (student, administration, professional staff, faculties). It has carefully avoided intruding upon the prerogatives of faculties and is, in fact, prohibited by law in New York State from intruding into the area of terms and conditions of employment which are properly the prerogative of the bargaining agent.
Faculties and departments, United University Professions, the College Council, the Trustees and the Regents, the University Faculty Senate, and United Students Government all have relatively well-defined spheres of influence/authority and particular ways of interacting with (or failing to interact with) the College Senate.
Actions taken at Senate meetings are advisory to the President of the college. The President of the college is responsible for setting policy for the college.