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Faculty Senate & Governance

History

On May 18, 1938, UW President Sieg called the first meeting of the first Faculty Senate at the University of Washington. President Sieg served as chair of the senate until 1947, when legislation was passed to require that senate chairs be elected from the voting members of the faculty to serve one-year terms.

During the period of the Canwell hearings in the Washington State Senate in the late 1940s the Faculty Senate faced a major challenge to shared governance. With legislators concerned about faculty members with “dangerous ideas” the university community conducted serious and sustained discussions within about the importance of honoring and practicing shared governance, leading to an important accord between the faculty and President Schmitz adopted in April 1956.

1956 Accord

Incorporated as part of the new Faculty Code (Section 13-01) it was passed unanimously by the Faculty Senate and approved by the university faculty with an overwhelmingly positive vote. In taking this action, the Faculty Senate emerged from what is arguably the university’s darkest hour with a robust “constitution” in the form of the Faculty Code; the framework for shared governance that remains in effect to this day. The accord affirmed the ideals of shared governance at the University of Washington and was instrumental in restoring trust between the university faculty and the administration:

“A university is a community of scholars contributing, each according to his own talents and interests, to the transmission and advancement of knowledge. Because of its diversity of interests a university is a complex organization, not quite like any other in its management, which requires the understanding and good faith of people dedicated to a common purpose. A university administration must seek wisely and diligently to advance the common effort, and the strength of a university is greatest when its faculty and administration join for the advancement of common objectives. Much of the faculty-administration relationship has been established through long experience, and has the weight and good sense of academic form and tradition. But the terms of this relationship are essentially those of spirit, mutual respect, and good faith, and thus must be flexible to meet changing needs. Some of the traditions of the University of Washington are given expression in the pages that follow. Yet these and other common understandings have meaning only to the extent that they reflect the integrity and faith of administration and faculty in the day by day accomplishment of their joint effort.”

Carl Allendoerfer
Alfred Harsch
William S. Hopkins
Brents Stirling
E. Roscoe Wilcox, on behalf of the faculty

President Henry Schmitz, on behalf of the administration