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Queen's University
 

Checklist for Senate Committee Secretaries

Updated: November 2008

Membership List

Maintain up-to-date list of committee members (ex officio, elected, observer) contact information - mailing address, telephone, fax, e-mail. (The University Secretariat will supply the list of current members each September, or as soon as it is finalized.) The membership list and committee mandate should be circulated to members at the beginning of the year.

Action Plan

Review with committee chair currently outstanding and potential agenda items and develop a committee action plan for the year. Information describing agenda issues for each Senate Committee is collected at the beginning of September and included in the Senate Agenda for the September Meeting.

Meetings

  • Schedule: Depending on the committee membership, the schedule can be established either by collecting timetable information from members and identifying the free time slot, or by selecting a schedule based on the chair's own timetable. A monthly or semi-monthly schedule for the year, or for the term, which is announced at the earliest opportunity, is usually successful. Meetings can be canceled or added based on this core schedule. Remember to check faith dates with the Office of the University Chaplain before scheduling meetings

  • Location: The secretary is responsible for booking the meeting room and ensuring that notice of the date, time and location of the meeting is circulated in advance to all members, visitors, guests and observers. In most cases, this information can be communicated by the Agenda.

Agenda

In consultation with the chair, the secretary draws up the list of items to be considered at the next meeting of the committee, attaching the necessary background information (reports, correspondence, etc.).

  • Circulation: The agenda package should be circulated to the members prior to the meeting. Committees vary in the required/preferred lead-time for receipt of agenda material. The issues to be discussed will often determine if more or less time is necessary. Presenting information to a committee without notice should be avoided at all costs. Copies should be sent to the University Secretariat for information. Please copy the VP Academic on all committee mailings to deans (e.g. requests for input on proposed policies).

  • Methods: Methods of circulating agenda material will vary between committees and will also be dependent on the nature of the material to be circulated. E-mail, QShare and hard copy are all acceptable methods of circulating agenda materials. Please accommodate any special needs.

  • Outstanding Items: It is helpful to maintain a checklist on the agenda of outstanding items to remind committee members of issues to be dealt with in the near future.

Minutes

The secretary records the date of the meeting, the attendance, the actions taken by the committee and any other issues of substance that are discussed.

  • Style: A concise minute style that records decisions and reasons, with only limited, salient, points of discussion, is recommended. The secretary must be sensitive to the needs of the committee; however, the secretary should also exercise a measure of reasonable judgement about how much information is necessary to support the work of the committee. Discussion with the chair about these issues is recommended.

  • Circulation:Minutes should be circulated with the agenda for the next meeting and should be approved as the second item of business after the adoption of the agenda.

Reports

The outcome of a committee's deliberations will usually be a report to the Senate containing recommendations in the form of motions.

  • Research: The secretary may assist with research and help draft committee reports.

  • Format: The secretary must ensure that reports are submitted to the Senate in an acceptable format. Reports longer than 5 pages must be accompanied by an executive summary. Submissions should be compatible with Microsoft Office. Submissions may be sent as attachments via email to senate@queensu.ca. Contact senate@queensu.ca if you have questions about software compatibility.

  • Motions: Recommendations for the Senate's action should be laid out clearly and, if complex or many in number, should be summarized on a separate page. Please contact senate@queensu.ca for more information.

  • Notice: Committees are encouraged to involve the Senate at an early stage on matters of substance. One method is to submit a report in draft for discussion by Senate prior to final recommendations. Another option is Notice of Motion at the meeting prior to the meeting at which the vote on the proposed action will be called.

    Notwithstanding these suggestions, the Senate's Rules of Procedure state that circulation of proposals with the agenda prior to the Senate meeting is sufficient notice. Experience has shown, however, that complex matters can be handled more effectively if extra notice is provided.

Meeting Procedures

Secretaries should refer to the Senate Rules of Procedure, (VI) Committees.

  • Quorum: One-half of the membership (ex officio and elected members) of a Senate committee shall constitute a quorum.

Consult the Secretariat

Secretaries are invited to consult the Senate staff in the University Secretariat on any of the above items or on any other issues concerning the Senate and its committees.

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