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Guidelines for the Establishment of a Faculty

Senate adopted the following guidelines for the establishment of a Faculty at its meeting of April 21, 1993. See motion below. The Senate Academic Policy Committee prepared the report.


Increasing the number of faculties has implications for academic governance, not just for the unit seeking faculty status, but for the university as a whole. There are implications for the size and effectiveness of Senate, the size and composition of the Committee of Deans as an advisory body to the president and academic vice- president, and the degree to which academic governance is centralized, as reflected in the number of academic units and administrators that report directly to the president's office.

For these reasons it is recognized that there cannot be indifference to the number of faculties at UBC. Any proposal to increase the number, either by raising the status of a school to that of a faculty, or by accommodating a new area of programming by creating a faculty, must be carefully considered, and declared benefits to the unit seeking faculty status must be examined in this context.

  1. Senate Size and Effectiveness

    Under the University Act (Section 34), creation of a new faculty adds four members to Senate--a dean, one faculty member, and two students. The present Senate has 87 members. If UBC were to have seventeen instead of twelve faculties, as is the case, for example, at the University of Western Ontario, Senate would have 107 members.

    The effectiveness of Senate is not just a function of its size. For it to work well, all parts of the university community must have effective representation in the Senate. Academic units and programs are represented in Senate by their dean and their faculty and student representatives. In the case of a small or professional faculty, this tends to constitute a more direct representation than exists in the case of a large faculty encompassing several disciplines or professional programs (departments and schools), where both the dean and representatives of faculty and students may have to represent and speak for interests outside their discipline or program of study. This kind of indirect representation is inevitable in a large university, if Senate is to be of manageable size. The question is how well is it achieved? Do faculty and students so represented have an effective voice in Senate?

    The answer to this question is unlikely to be found, in the particular instance, in the performance – adequate or inadequate – of the representational role of incumbent senators. It must be looked for, instead, in the academic and organizational integrity of a faculty, as constituted, as well as in its everyday functioning and "culture" (inter-relationships). There are two issues to be addressed in this respect. First, is the diversity of programming in a faculty of such a nature as to lead to the conclusion that interests of a particular unit or discipline within a faculty, say for example a school, cannot be represented indirectly in Senate? Or alternatively, are there compelling reasons from the viewpoint of the university or the wider community for a particular discipline within a faculty, say for example a school, or program to be represented directly in Senate, which can be assured only by faculty status? Secondly, is there basis for concluding that due to the diversity and size of units or disciplines that make up a faculty, and the absence of a shared identity, faculty and students in a particular program are unable to elected to Senate?

    Insight into the latter question can be obtained from the experience of recent elections to Senate. Have a school's faculty and students been nominated regularly for Senate and failed to get elected? Is there a history of apparent little interest in Senate, and a willingness to be represented by others? The question whether a dean can effectively speak for a discipline or profession unrelated to, or far removed from, his or her own may also be relevant. This is a question related to the cognateness of a faculty's programs and mission, which is discussed briefly below. That he or she may not always be able to do so is anticipated in the regulation of Senate,1 seldom used, that permits a director to present in person to Senate matters of special interest to his or her school.

    Guideline 1 – The effectiveness of a school's or other unit's representation in Senate is an important consideration in deciding whether to grant faculty status. This consideration must be tempered by a concern for the impact of change on the overall size and representativeness of Senate, and realization that many programs and units in the university must continue to be represented in Senate indirectly through a dean, faculty, and students who may be in another discipline.

  2. Appointment, Reappointment, and Promotion of Faculty

    The negotiated Agreement on Conditions of Appointment for Faculty (see Faculty Handbook) recognizes a three-tiered structure of collegial and administrative involvement in decisions affecting the appointment, reappointment, tenuring, and promotion of members of faculty holding appointments without review. This document establishes and defines the role of a faculty member's immediate colleagues and administrative head in such decisions, as well as that of colleagues at the faculty and university levels. It is based on the norm of departmentalized faculties where a department head, on the advice of an advisory committee initiates all recommendations relating to appointment, reappointment, tenure, and promotion.

    The role of faculty committees and the Senior Appointments Committee in this process is two-fold – to assure and maintain faculty – and university-wide standards of performance and achievement for faculty, and to provide a dynamic and responsibility for these standards that is conducive to their improvement. The Faculty Handbook, to ensure the viability of collegial input at the departmental level, as well as preserve the anonymity of the advice given, provides for the expansion of a head's advisory committee by the addition of faculty members from outside the department, when numbers are small. There is thus explicit recognition of a minimum size of a department for the provisions of the Handbook governing conditions of appointment, reappointment and promotion to apply as intended. Presumably the same holds for a faculty that is too small or has too few colleagues eligible to serve on mandated advisory committees.

    See Appendix A for motion of Senate of 1949 establishing schools and regulating their governance.

    It is at the level of the Senior Appointment's committee where the difference in the administrative scrutiny and collegial assessment received by recommendations for appointment, tenure and promotion in departmentalized and non-departmentalized faculties is most apparent. The Senior Appointments Committee, for the departmentalized faculty, represents a third level of assessment, after a recommendation has been initiated and approved by a candidate's department or school, and supported at the faculty level where it must be considered by a dean's advisory committee. Furthermore, the dean's advisory committee, like the Senior Appointments Committee, is composed for the most part, if not entirely, of persons outside the candidate's discipline or field of study, whose knowledge of the candidate is based primarily on the documentation presented.

    This situation is different from that of a recommendation reaching the Senior Appointments Committee from a smaller, non-departmentalized faculty. Such a recommendation has had no second-level scrutiny, nor has it been considered by person's other than the candidate's immediate colleagues and his or her dean. It is also presented and argued before the Senior Appointments Committee by the candidate's dean, who in this case is also the administrator responsible for initiating the recommendation at the first level. (In this connection it is interesting to note that department heads and directors of schools do not serve on the Senior Appointments Committee on the grounds that they would be required, or would have the opportunity, to participate in the assessment of recommendations that they had initiated and supported at the department or school level.)

    GUIDELINE 2 – That any new faculty be of a size and complexity that permit departmentalization in conformity with the norms for administrative review of, and collegial participation in, decisions relating to appointment, reappointment, tenure and promotion as laid out in the Agreement on Conditions of Appointment for Faculty. Particular attention should be given to the viability of advisory committees in relation to the number of eligible members of appropriate rank available to serve on them.

  3. The School within its Faculty

    The 1949 motions of Senate establishing and governing schools (Appendix A) recognized them as "mainly professional or vocational in character", as offering a "specialized" curriculum, and as having policies that "do not generally affect policies in other departments to any great extent". Despite their distinctiveness and "special problems", schools were clearly envisaged by Senate as forming an integral part of an academic community defined by the boundaries of the faculty in which they were situated. Senate gave the school council jurisdiction over "matters pertaining only to the school", but saw fit to grant the dean discretion over whether these matters would also have to be referred to the faculty for approval before being forwarded to Senate. The 1949 motions explicitly stated that "all other academic matters" had to be referred to the faculty for approval. The relatedness of a school's mandate to that of its faculty and the faculty's departments is reflected in the provision that schools' councils consist of a school's faculty members and "representatives of closely related departments".

    Practice in many cases has not conformed to Senate's intentions and instructions with respect to schools. Schools were established that did not share a sense of mission and community with departments and other schools in their faculty to the extent envisaged by Senate, if indeed at all. As a result, some schools have been accorded a degree of independence in the conduct of their affairs not intended by Senate. Academic matters have been deemed to be of interest to the school only, and for this reason, are not required to be approved by a faculty committee and the faculty as a whole before being forwarded to Senate. They act, in this respect, much like mini-faculties.

    The relative independence from the academic governance of its faculty both reflects and contributes to a sense of apartness in a school, which is bound inevitably to raise the question whether it belongs, and whether it might not be better off, or no worse off, if it were to become a faculty. Only in the Faculty of Arts do schools seem to be integrated into the academic, as distinct to budget and personnel, committee structure of the faculty in a manner if not exactly contemplated, then encouraged, by Senate in 1949. The absence, with two recent exceptions, of school faculty serving as an assistant or associate dean of their faculty, not to mention dean, also presumably does little to enhance a feeling of belonging on the part of a school, and of being more than an anomaly within the faculty structure, or an appendage to it.

    After all is said, there remains the question of how disparate can the programs administered within a faculty be, and there be, equally accessible to all programs, the academic leadership and environment, not to mention resources, needed to assure their wellbeing and future development. In other words, how cognate, if at all, must be the various programs and academic endeavours of a faculty? The answer to a large extent depends on how a faculty is viewed and defined. For example, is it foremost an academic body, or an administrative body, or both? The same enquiry can be raised with respect to the role of dean. Is the dean viewed as the academic leader of the entire faculty, of the schools as well as of departments, or does this role or aspect of the dean's job tend to be assumed, in the case of schools, by their directors? The reality is that it probably does, especially in the case of professional schools with wide outside involvement in professional organizations and the community.

    It is reasonable to assume that Senate, in establishing schools, saw the director and not the dean as providing leadership in all matters particular to a school's professional or vocational existence, and with respect to the associations with outside organizations that this entails. Such a view or model of the complex faculty suggests that the dean's role as academic leader is restricted primarily to his or her discipline or general area of competence, which means, barring the possibility that the dean holds an appointment in a school, to the faculty's departments. For the school, the dean becomes essentially a provider, and an advocate and expediter before Senate and in the president's office.

    But if we accept that a faculty, regardless of its complexity, is an academic unit, and comprises an academic community, it seems reasonable that a sense of belongingness and purpose be shared by all who hold appointments in the faculty.

    In some cases this shared feeling has come easily, through an affinity of disciplines or professional concern, or a shared history, while in the case of other schools the basis for its existence is less evident, or non-existent. A majority of UBC's schools have evolved from within their faculty; others have been created and "attached". Schools are the product of the development and evolution of the university's mission, and for this reason it must be recognized that what was once considered their appropriate place in the organizational structure of the university, may no longer be so. This the university must be capable of doing and acting upon. The interests of the school and the university may be best served if a school becomes a faculty.

    GUIDELINE 3 – As an academic community, a faculty should be comprised of departments or departments and schools that share similar or common educational goals, and at lest to some extent are inter-dependent and mutually reinforcing in the achievement of their respective goals. Measures of the latter may include the exchange of students in elective or required courses, joint research, and shared human and physical resources.

    GUIDELINE 4 – A school should be involved in a meaningful way in the academic governance of the faculty in which it is located, and similarly, members of departments and other schools in that faculty should have the opportunity to participate, where appropriate, in academic decision-making affecting a school.

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This information is for quick reference. For the full text of the Minutes of Senate, which include the motions and discussion, please see the Minutes Archive.

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