Academic Senate Records

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Academic Senate records
Date [inclusive]
1.0 Cubic feet , 14 reels of microfilm, 9 volumes

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan".

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Historical Note

The Faculty

During the first forty years of Michigan State University’s history, the “Faculty” exercised both executive and legislative powers. They met weekly, with the president acting as moderator, to deliberate and vote on college matters ranging from curriculum and academic policy to individual cases of student misconduct. The Faculty also constituted committees to deal with such concerns as the catalog, admission examinations and standards, operation of the museum and library, athletics, college buildings, the granting of graduate degrees, room inspection, and student absences from military drill and required work.

Under President Snyder (1896-1915) a distinction between legislative and executive functions emerged. The president assumed responsibility for student discipline. Weekly faculty meetings were replaced by monthly ones as the daily administration of the College became the province of the deans or committees appointed by and responsible to the president. But the Faculty continued to act on academic policy and curriculum, as well as to handle many student problems.

Initially, participation in Faculty meetings was restricted to those holding the rank of professor. Associate professors were permitted to vote beginning in 1890. Assistant professors and instructors gained some voice in academic affairs when President John Hannah invited them to attend the first Faculty Meeting held each term.

By the 1950s, the Faculty had grown to over 800 members, and Faculty meetings had become too large to permit extended debate and discussion. In order to govern more effectively, the Faculty voted in 1955 to discontinue meeting as the “Faculty” and to reorganize as three All-University bodies: the Academic Assembly, Academic Senate, and Academic Council.

The Academic Senate

The 1955 Bylaws for Academic Governance and their subsequent revisions of 1958, 1961, 1968, 1971, and 1975, vest the authority of the faculty in two legislative bodies, the Academic Senate, and an elected council (now called the Faculty Council). The Senate most closely resembles, in terms of membership, what was known before as the “Faculty” (see Faculty Meeting Records).

The Academic Senate acts on revisions to the bylaws, issues raised by the elected council or by individual faculty, and matters which the Senate itself wishes to consider. Generally these are issues of major importance relating to educational policy, curricula, and tenure, referred to it by the elected council. Since the abolition of the Academic Assembly in 1961, the Senate has also served as a forum for the dissemination of ideas and information between the faculty and the administration.

Originally membership was restricted to tenured faculty, the deans of the colleges, and certain members of the University, ex-officio. In 1961 it was expanded to include all faculty appointed under the rules of tenure holding the rank of professor, associate professor, or instructor, and all administrative officers holding academic rank excepting the president and provost.

The 1955 requirement of a minimum of one meeting each term was reduced in the early 1970s to a minimum of one meeting a year to be held during the fall quarter. Either the Steering Committee or the president may call the Senate into special session.

Sources: This is MSU (Facts book), 1956-1981 Faculty Handbooks, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1964, 1966-1968, 1970, 1971,1978, 1981 Bylaws for Academic Governance, 1955, 1958, 1971, 1968

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Scope and Contents note

Series 1: The Faculty This series consists of two indexes and four subseries. The first index is for the minutes of meetings for 1857-1925 and the second is for 1929-1942. Both are indexes to actions taken by the Faculty. Index headings include alumni scholarships, athletics, administration and buildings, courses and curricula, commencement, fees, grades and examinations, military science, organization of societies and clubs, registration and enrollment, and student social rules and governance. The indexes may be incomplete and entries are arranged alphabetically.

Subseries 1: Minutes of Meetings is the restricted official summaries of faculty meetings, documenting deliberations on curriculum, courses, athletics, and other University concerns within the purview of the faculty. Before 1896, decisions regarding individual cases of student misconduct constitute a large part of the record. Committee reports of varying detail are also included. These records are restricted in accordance with the “University Guidelines Governing Privacy and the Release of Student Records.” It is arranged chronologically.

Subseries 2: Minutes of Meetings is a microfilmed copy of subseries 1.

Subseries 3: Miscellaneous Records includes student petitions for the scheduling of social events, formation of organizations, curriculum changes, and various other purposes; notices, announcements, schedules, and programs; and lists of periodicals held by the library. It is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Subseries 4: Constitutions of Student Organizations is arranged alphabetically by organization. Series 2: The Academic Senate This series includes four subseries.

Subseries 1: Minutes of Meetings and Supporting Documents is the official minutes of meetings and supporting documents compiled by the Secretary for Academic Governance. Meeting minutes consist of a list of attendees and a summary of presentations made, but generally report no discussion on the floor. Supporting documents include agenda prepared by the Steering Committee, reports on course and curriculum changes, memoranda from committee chairmen and administrative officers of the University, annual reports of the Athletic Council and the Academic Council, and special reports of ad hoc committees. In a few instances, formal presentations made to the Senate are recorded verbatim. The most extensively considered topic is the reorganization of the faculty. There are also significant presentations on the use of the emeritus title (1957); the administration of doctoral programs (1947-1959); the elimination of a compulsory Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) Program (1959); and policies on smoking on campus (1955), student cheating (1961 and 1963); grading (1964, 1968, and 1969), student academic freedom (1967), and student participation in academic governance (1970). Proposals for academic programs leading to Ph.D. degrees in Communication Arts (1958) and Foreign Languages (1961) and to the MBA and MFA degrees (1947) are also included. Minutes dating from after 1971 are interfiled with the Academic Council Minutes and Supporting Documents (see record group UA 14.3). This is arranged chronologically.

Subseries 2 is a microfilmed copy of subseries 1. For minutes of the February 4, 1958 meeting, see paper copy filed in series 1.

Subseries 3: Agenda and Minutes of Meetings includes the agenda prepared by the Steering Committee and official summaries of meetings compiled by the Secretary for Academic Governance. It is arranged chronologically.

Subseries 4 is a microfilm copy and identical in content to subseries 3 described above.

Subseries 5: Recordings of Meetings includes the cassette tape recordings of Senate meetings. For an indication of topics discussed, see minutes of Senate meetings found interfiled with the Academic Council minutes and Supporting Documents.

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Two series: 1: The Faculty. 2. The Academic Senate.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections May 1981

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Revision Description

 AT and cataloging revisions July 2013

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Series 3 and 4 have restricted access.

Legal Status note

Copyright: Michigan State University Property Rights: Michigan State University

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Custodial History

Materials were gifts of Madison Kuhn and William Combs.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Michigan State University. Academic Senate. Faculty Steering Committee. -- Chronological subdivision--1955;
  • Michigan State University. -- General subdivision--Faculty; Chronological subdivision--1955-;


  • Sound recordings


  • Education -- Administration
  • Universities and colleges -- Administration

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Collection Inventory

The Faculty 

Box Folder

Index to Minutes of Meetings 1857-1925 

927 1-2

Index to Minutes of Meetings 1929-1942 

927 3

Minutes of Meetings (Volumes). Restricted 1857-1957 


 February 1857-August 1877 


 September 1877-February 1899 


 February 1899-April 1907 


 May 1907-February 1914 


 February 1914-May 1926 


 June 1926-September 1940 


 October 1940-September 1949 


 October 1949-December 1957 


Minutes of Meetings (Microfilm ). Restricted 1857-1957 

Drawer Reel

 May 1857-April 1881 

Microfilm 1

 May 1881-October 1902 

Microfilm 2

 November 1902-April 1912 

Microfilm 3

 May 1912-February 1924 

Microfilm 4

 March 1924-March 1940 

Microfilm 5

 April 1940-September 1949 

Microfilm 6

 October 1949-May 1955 

Microfilm 7

Miscellaneous Records 

Box Folder

Committee reports 1895-1912, undated 

927 4-6

Curriculum proposals 1907-1912, undated 

927 7-10

Notes and announcements 1910, undated 

927 11

Periodical Lists 1908-1911 

927 12

Programs 1909, undated 

927 13

Resolutions 1908-1912, undated 

927 14

Special exams 1906-1908 

927 15

Sports Schedules 1907-1910 

927 16

Student Lists 1902-1912, undated 

927 17

Student Petitions 1906-1912, undated 

927 18

Constitutions of Student Organizations 1908-1911 

Box Folder

Cosmopolitan Club 1911 

927 19

Delphic Literary Society 1909 

927 20

Ionian Literary Society 1909 

927 21

Literary Society 1911 

927 22

Magico Literary Society 1909 

927 23

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Academic Senate 

Minutes of Meetings and Supporting Documents 1955-1971   4 microfilm reels

Box Volume

 November 1955-November 1957 

363 1

 February 1958-November 1961 

363 2

 February 1962-May 1967 

363 3

 January 1968-May 1971 

363 4

Minutes of Meetings and Supporting Documents (Microfilm)   0.5 Cubic feet

Drawer Reel

 November 1955-November 1957 

Microfilm 1B

 May 1958-November 1961 

Microfilm 2

 February 1962-May 1967 

Microfilm 3

 January 1968-May 1971 

Microfilm 4

Agenda and Minutes of Meetings 1955-1971 


Agenda and Minutes of Meetings (Microfilm)   3 microfilm reels

Drawer Reel

 October 1955-November 1957 

Microfilm 7

 February 1958-May 1969 

Microfilm 8

 October 1955-May 1971 

Microfilm 1A

Minutes of Academic Senate, Microfilm (Duplicate set) 1857-1971 

Box Folder

Statement to the Academic Senate by Provost Howard Neville 1966 

927 24

Recordings of Meetings (Audio Cassettes) 



May 17 




May 13 


May 16 




March 6 


November 13 




February 18 


May 21 


November 5 




May 19 


November 3 




May 18 




June 7 




May 23 


November 9 




May 14 


November 25 




April 3 


May 13 


November 18 




May 16 


May 31 




May 18 


October 19 


October 19 




May 17 


June 6 


October 25 




May 16 




January 30 




January 22 




November 17 




February 7 




March 27 


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