2020-2023 Vancouver Senate Triennial Review


Every three years, the Senate undertakes a triennial review of its operations and practices. The purpose of this review is to bring to Senate suitable recommendations to be implemented for the next Senate triennium. The process is overseen by the Senate Nominating Committee.

Comments are sought from the entire UBC community, and prompts for feedback are sent to specific groups, including all senators individually and each of the standing committees of Senate. Some of the questions apply to committee structure and operations; committee chairs may wish to submit responses to those questions on behalf of the committee members after a discussion with them. Individual members are welcome to respond as well.

Background Documents

The following documents may assist you in understanding how Senate formally organizes its work, and what types of suggestions past reviews have made.

The University Act. The “current” University Act is from 1973, but has been amended many times since then, most notably in 2005 to establish UBC’s second campus – and second Senate – in the Okanagan valley. The University Act sets out the structure of the University – including its Chancellor, President, Registrar, Convocation, Board, Senates, Council, and Faculties and grants them a variety of powers and responsibilities.   The University Act also sets out the functions and duties of the University generally and the Senate in particular.

The Rules and Procedures of Senate. This document is the Senate’s internal bylaws. These rules set out the parliamentary authority of the Senate, reflect the membership set out by the University Act with any additions made by the Senate, makes rules for Senate meetings and the consideration of business, and sets out the standing committee structure of the Senate. The Rules and Procedures of Senate also set out the organization of the Senate’s Nominating Committee and how it goes about its work.

The Current Membership of Senate. The University Act sets out the base membership of each Senate. For the Vancouver Senate, this results in a base membership of 24, plus four additional members (a dean, 2 faculty members, and a student) for each faculty, one additional member per affiliated college, and any additional members added by the Senate (Presently a further 8 convocation members and 1 professional librarian). Currently, this results in a Senate of 88 members. The University Act allows Senate to expand its membership so long as it does not alter the 2:1 ratio between faculty members and students. In practice, the Senate usually follows a similar ratio when adding senior academic administrators to the Senate (that is, for any administrator added 2 additional faculty members and 1 additional student would be added).

The Current Standing Committees of Senate and their Terms of References and Memberships

2017-2020 Triennial Review Report

Select Other Senates in Canada (for Comparison)

Academic Board of the Governing Council of the University of TorontoSenate of McGill UniversitySenate of Queen’s University at KingstonSenate of the University of VictoriaSenate of Simon Fraser UniversityOkanagan Senate.

NB: The latter three operate under the same University Act as UBC Vancouver (which some differences in mandated Senate memberships)

Questions to Consider

Broad feedback is welcome; however, to focus comments on tangible areas for improvement, the Nominating Committee would also welcome your thoughts on some or all of the following questions:

  1. Are the current delineations of Senate and Board of Governors responsibilities sufficiently clear? Are these delineations followed effectively and consistently in practice?
  2. Do the current size and composition of Senate effectively support its function as the academic governance body of the campus?
  3. How could Senate better ensure that its decisions (e.g., policies) are implemented across the campus community?
  4. Are there actions that Senate could take to address barriers (conscious or unconscious) to participation in Senate that members of the UBC Vancouver community might face?
  5. Have you experienced any tensions as a senator while attempting to advance the best interest of the University as a whole, knowing that you were elected by a constituent group? Do you have any advice or suggestions in this regard?
  6. Do the Rules and Procedures of Senate effectively support Senate’s academic governance function on behalf of the University?
  7. Do the Senate committees on which you have served have appropriate mandates, terms of reference, sizes and compositions to enable them to contribute to Senate’s role in the academic governance of the campus? [You may wish to discuss in committee and have the chair submit a joint response.]
  8. Are the committees on which you serve well supported by the Office of the Senate? Do you feel that the Senate as a whole has sufficient resources to fulfill its mandate?
  9. Do Senate meetings include an appropriate mix of discussion and votes on reports from committees and discussion of broad issues of academic governance that transcend individual committee mandates?
  10. Recently, Senate has used a multi-access (hybrid) format for meetings.
    1. Does the multi-access meeting format facilitate the kind of debate and discussion that you expect at Senate?
    2. Does the meeting format support your personal/familial needs?
  11. Please comment on the type and amount of work expected of you as a senator compared with your expectations when you sought election. Was any orientation provided to you after you were elected sufficient to prepare you? What further information or training would have helped?
  12. Do you understand the role of the Council of Senates? Do you have any feedback on that part of the Senate system?
  13. Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

How to Submit Comments

Please submit your feedback to vancouver.senate@ubc.ca by 24 March 2023. Please ensure that “Triennial Review Comments” is at the start message subject line for ease of sorting. The identity of those who submit comments will be kept in confidence by the Senate Nominating Committee unless respondents specifically request to be identified. Input submitted by committee chairs on behalf of a standing committee after a discussion in committee will be identified as input from the committee and not from individual senators.