University Senate to Consider Term Limits

The goal is to improve the efficacy of the University Senate, so say advocates of term limits for senators in the university-wide governing body.

In April 1994, the Structure and Operations Committee found that "the key to improving the Senate may lie as much in recruiting and electing good senators as in reorganizing its committees."

The Student Affairs Committee agreed, yet found, it said in a recent report, that "the Senate has not done a particularly good job in recruiting and electing new senators."

Of the 50 tenured and nontenured faculty senators in 1993-94, 42 percent were elected to a consecutive term. In addition, the report said, the chairs of seven of the 12 standing committees are currently led by senators who have served two or more consecutive terms as chairs and each has served more than a decade in the senate.

The Student Affairs Committee, the sponsors of the term limits proposal, said that the service and "dedication of the multi-term senators and committee chairs was admirable."

However, it questioned whether the lack of turnover was in the Senate's or University's best interests.

While recognizing the benefits of continuity to the governing body, the Student Affairs Committee's proposal is to limit senators to two consecutive Senate terms. In a separate proposal, a rules change would not allow consecutive terms as committee chairs.

The term limits idea will be introduced as proposed legislation at the Fri., Feb. 24, meeting of the Senate.

Columbia University Record -- February 24, 1995 -- Vol. 20, No. 18