Fonds UAA Fonds 0001 - Chancellor and Senate fonds

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Chancellor and Senate fonds

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  • Multiple media

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UAA Fonds 0001

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  • 1908-1990 (Creation)
    Office of the Chancellor and Senate

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Physical description

10.88m of multiple media records

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Administrative history

The Alberta University Act, 1906, created the Senate as the governing body of the University of Alberta. Its first meeting, in March 1908, set the policy for the opening of the University in September of that year. The original mandate of the Senate addressed all academic activities of the University, and was originally responsible for interpreting the University to the public, administering faculty councils, and addressing the activities of all academic staff. In 1910 the Act was rewritten, giving administrative powers to the Board of Governors and academic powers to the Senate. A further revision in 1942 assigned academic authority to the General Faculties Council and brought the Senate’s duties and powers closer to what they are today under the provisions of the Universities Act of 1976: “It is the duty of the senate to inquire into any matter that might tend to enhance the usefulness of the university.” The responsibilities of the current Senate involve communication and public outreach; it seeks to stimulate discussion on issues of concern and to aid in their resolution, and acts as a bridge between the University and the public. (From the Past to the Future, pp 7) The Senate, chaired by the Chancellor of the University, comprises 62 members which include: 30 elected members of the public representing affiliated colleges or institutions, geographical areas and groups, and organizations with an interest in the University; 9 members of the public appointed by the Minister of Advanced Education; 2 members of the non-academic staff, appointed by the Minister of Advance Education; 2 appointees from the Board of Governors; 3 appointees from the General Faculties Council; 2 appointees from the Deans’ Council; 2 appointees from the Alumni Association; 4 students appointed by the Students’ Union; 1 student appointed by the Graduate Students’ Association; and 7 ex officio members (including the presidents of the University and the Alumni Association). Formal meetings of the Senate are half-day long and are usually held four times a year, under the chairmanship of the Chancellor. The Chancellor, who confers all degrees, is the titular head of the University and represents the public interest in the University. These meetings, open to the public, are used to “provide Albertans with information on matters of interest or current concern in post-secondary education” (Senate brochure). It is the mandate of the Senate to communicate the needs and views of Albertans to the University and the Alberta government, and to interpret to the public the many facets of the University. The Senate has the power to require a report from any part of the University, and may receive submissions from any member of the public. Ad hoc committees may be set up to consider specific issues, or a task force may be formed to investigate an educational matter brought to Senate’s attention. Subsequently, the Senate will present a report with recommendations, and establish follow-up committees to consider how the recommendations are being implemented. The current Senate has five standing committees: Executive; Nominating; Honorary Degrees; Community Relations; and one to allocate the Emil Skarin Fund. The work of the Senate is coordinated by and executive officer and support staff. The Senate has the power to confer honorary degrees, and in this way is able to recognize in a distinctive way the contributions that Albertans and others have made to life and learning. The Senate is also involved in seeking financial support for projects closely associated with its role.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The Chancellor and Senate fonds are among the oldest and most significant records in the University of Alberta Archives. These records document the very inception of the University when through the University of Alberta Act in 1906, the Senate was created as the sole governing body of the University of Alberta. At its first meeting in March 1908, the Senate set the policy for the opening of the University in September 1908. The focus and mandate of the Senate has changed in the ensuing years, but it remains an important component of the University landscape. The Senate represents the public face of the University, and functions with the understanding that "an ongoing relationship with the community is fundamental to the effectiveness of the University." (Senate brochure)

The Chancellor and Senate records deposited with the University Archives span the period from the Senate's establishment as the governing body of the University, to its present functions within the University milieu. These records were received in numerous accessions over the past years, and although physically dispersed, are brought together intellectually in this comprehensive finding-aid to the fonds.

The records have been arranged within three broad series, and further arranged according to sub-series designations as well. Series 1 is the Chancellor and Senate Office administrative records, and include the Executive Officer files; Senate Office files related to Senate membership, correspondence, public relations, and financial matters; and Senate meetings. The meeting files are extensive, and fairly complete in terms of years represented. Early Senate meeting minutes were recorded in bound minute books and are complete from 1903 through 1970. Beginning in 1949, individual meeting files were maintained and contain agendas, minutes, related correspondence, and printed attachments related to specific Senate meetings. The Series 1 records present an excellent overall view of the day-to-day function of the Senate, and document its evolving role within the University of Alberta.

Series 2 records represent the Operational records of the Chancellor and Senate, and include those records related to the research and gathering of information, and the public presentation of this gathered knowledge. Sub-series within this broad series include Reports (usually ones presented to the Senate); Committees; Task Forces; and Hearings/Investigations/Commissions. The records are often quite linked within these sub-series; for example, an Ad Hoc Committee might be struck to consider a specific issue or topic, and this in turn may lead to the establishment of a task force to further develop and explore the topic, as well as prepare a comprehensive report on the findings. The Committee files document activities of the Senate standing committees and ad hoc committees, as well as joint University-wide committees with Senate representation. A particularly significant Senate activity involves the conferring of honorary degrees, and the Honorary Degree Committee files provide a wealth of information about the recipients of these degrees. Their files often contain biographical information about the recipient, nominating papers, photographs, and related correspondence. As the Chancellor is involved with all convocations, the Convocation Committee files also present a variety of information related to honorary degrees specifically, and convocation generally. There are often convocation programs, speeches, invitations, and planning documents. Within the Task Force sub-series, records concerning twenty-five task force investigations are represented, and arranged in their chronological order of establishment within the finding aid. The fourth sub-series of Hearings/Commissions/Investigations is a smaller set of records, and relates to broader University and public wide inquiries.

The final series of records relates to the Chancellors' papers. While information about the role of the Chancellor can be gleaned from all three series of records, this particular series focuses on the role of individual chancellors. Sub-series include Chancellor Installation ceremonies; Chancellor meetings; photographs; and the papers of individual Chancellors. The series is limited in that only nine individual Chancellors are represented (18 Chancellors have served the University between 1908 and 2008), and some of this information is sketchy and limited in scope. However, further information about individual Chancellors can be researched by consulting their private paper donations, or considering the correspondence files in Series 1.

The Chancellor and Senate fonds form a significant contribution to the documentation of the history and ongoing activities of the University of Alberta.

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      Created by LMCPHERSON 11-1-2007. Updated by AODEEN 7-2-2015. Updated by A.A. 23 May 2023

      Language of description

      • English

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        Accession area