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Our Mission

The Faculty Senate is the elected and representative body of the faculty, with more than 90 members representing each department or tenure-home unit within Northwestern’s schools in Evanston, Chicago, and Qatar. It also has non-tenure faculty representatives from each of the schools, along with representatives from the University Libraries and the Northwestern Emeriti Organization, granting both tenure- and non-tenure track faculty full membership status and voting rights.

Role of the Faculty Senate

As the primary vehicle for faculty involvement in shared governance at the University, the Senate represents faculty values and interests. It shares responsibility with the Office of the Provost for drafting, revising, and approving the Faculty Handbook, which codifies faculty rights and responsibilities and serves as the contract between faculty and the University. The Senate also hears, through its Committee on Cause, faculty appeals of disciplinary actions.

The work of the Faculty Senate is conducted through its 12 standing committees which review, deliberate, and draft proposals on matters of interest for consideration by the full Senate. The proposals may result in recommendations or resolutions on critical University matters, including policies governing educational and research endeavors, hiring, diversity and inclusion, and campus life.

Once approved by the Senate, the recommendations and resolutions are sent to the University President, the Provost, and the Board of Trustees.

Recent Accomplishments

The Senate’s impact on the University, and its policies as they relate to faculty–including diversity, faculty salaries and benefits, course evaluations and research affairs– have been consequential in many regards. Recently, the Faculty Senate made significant improvements to the Faculty Handbook’s section on academic freedom. It also proposed and lobbied heavily for the Ombuds Office and was directly involved in its design and the hiring of the director. It passed a resolution on greater access to gender-neutral bathrooms, resulting in the subsequent construction of new bathrooms in several campus buildings. Additionally, a Senate survey of non-tenure eligible (NTE) faculty led to a deeper review of the NTE faculty experience by the Office of the Provost, and prompted actions at the school level to address salary inequities and open pathways to promotion.

Collaboration with University Leadership

The Senate maintains strong working relationships with key leaders at the University and has regular and ongoing discussions with the Provost, Associate Provost, University President, the Deans, the Vice President for Research, and many other stakeholders across each of the three campuses.

For more on how the Senate operates, see the Faculty Senate Bylaws.