Bicameral Governance

Bicameral Governance System (Board and Senate)

The University of Manitoba Act is the legislation that defines the governance of the University of Manitoba. Ours is a bicameral system, with the governing body defined as the Board of Governors, and Senate defined as the academic authority. The Senate, under the authority of the Act, established Faculty and School Councils, and delegated some of its authority to these Councils. The manner in which these bodies interact is defined by legislation and practice. This interaction has bearing on this report, which contains recommendations that groups other than the Task Force decide. A brief outline of the process of decision-making at the University is therefore worthwhile.

Powers of Senate and the Board. The Act gives Senate the authority to recommend on any matter that it considers to be of interest to the University. The establishment of, abolition of, and any changes in departments, Faculties and Schools are items on which Senate recommends. The approval of all courses of study are matters that Senate has the power to determine. However, Senate does not normally act on such matters until it receives recommendations from the concerned Faculty or School Councils.

The University of Manitoba Act gives the Board of Governors the authority to decide on all matters that are not reserved to Senate. Furthermore, the Board has the authority to determine all matters on which Senate recommends, whether or not a recommendation is forthcoming. It would, however, be most unusual for any university governing body not to hear what Senate might have to say on an issue that it regards as important. The explanation for this caution is fundamental to academic bicameral governance: the academic staff have the academic knowledge and expertise, and members of the governing body seek to be informed about the impact their decision would have on teaching and research before they render a decision.

The process of approval by Senate and the Board. The process of approval for some actions involves a period of deliberation, followed by a recommendation. For example, after due deliberation regarding a proposed program of study Faculty Council would recommend it to Senate, where the decision is made. Other actions, such as changes in Faculty structure, involve deliberation and recommendation by Faculty Council to Senate, Senate's recommendation to the Board of Governors, and then a decision by the Board. Decisions on most matters of financial concern are handled as part of the annual budget the administration takes to the Board, and on which Senate comments. The administration can also take single items to Senate for comment, and once it is received, the item goes to the Board. An example of the latter was the process of approval on the consolidation of the libraries.

- From "Building on Strengths: Final Report of the Task Force on Strategic Planning", University of Manitoba, February 1998, pages 5-6.