University Senate Quick Reference Guide


Welcome to the Purdue University Senate! This quick reference guide is intended to help orient new Senators for their shared governance work. We hope you will find it helpful, and we welcome additional queries and suggestions.

Established in 1964, the University Senate is the governing body of the faculty, and it exercises the legislative and policy-making powers assigned to the faculty. Subject to the authority of the Board of Trustees, and in consultation with the President, it has the power and responsibility to propose or to adopt policies, regulations, and procedures intended to achieve the educational objectives of Purdue University and the general welfare of those involved in these educational processes.

What are the most important aspects of being a Senator?

  1. Try to be prepared for meetings. Be familiar with parliamentary procedure, and spend time carefully reading any documents circulated with the Senate agenda. If you have feedback on a Document, it is ideal if the Committee Chair presenting it hears from you in time to make revisions.
  2. Senators are a crucial nexus of information for faculty. Please try to report regularly to your unit on Senate activities, and solicit the opinions of your colleagues on proposals before the Senate.

Who is on the Senate?

There are 104 Senators, and around 16 Advisors to the Senate. Most Senators are sent by their academic units according to an annual apportionment, but there are a few ex officio members as well: Purdue’s President, Provost, and Chief Fiscal Officer. In addition to the Senate Chair and Vice Chair (who are considered senators at large), we also have one representative each from Purdue Northwest, Purdue Fort Wayne, and IUPUI, as well as from the West Lafayette Purdue Student Government and West Lafayette Purdue Graduate Student Government.

Who can be a Senator?

Tenured, tenure-track, and clinical faculty can be chosen by their academic units to serve as Senators.

Who can vote on Senate matters?

When the full body of the Senate convenes, all Senators, including the Chair, Vice Chair, and regular ex officio Senators, are entitled to the vote.

Advisors to the Senate may not vote in full Senate meetings, but they do have full floor privileges. This means that they may speak, make motions, and raise points of order. When they serve on Standing Committees, Senate Advisors may vote on committee business.

NB: The immediate past chair of the Senate is a non-voting ex officio member of the Senate with full floor privileges, unless they are fulfilling the end of their Senate term or have just been elected to a second term. In that case, they maintain the right to vote as well.

Because the Chair is the most visible person in a meeting and has the most potentially dramatic role, we often focus too much on that person and not enough on the individual members. But without the members, of course, there would be no meeting; nor will the meeting be effective if the members are not. —Canon’s Concise Guide to Rules of Order



Be informed of the Senate meeting schedule for the full year

Attend Senate meetings as scheduled

Receive meeting materials at least five days prior to regularly scheduled Senate meetings

Review all agenda materials carefully and come to meetings prepared to discuss and to vote

Be treated with respect and decorum by the presider and colleagues during Senate proceedings

Refrain from discourteous, ad hominem, or dilatory tactics during meetings

Vote on all matters according to one’s best judgment

Maintain an active discourse with one’s academic unit; solicit departmental colleagues’ wishes

Bring motions on the floor, including motions to add items to the agenda

Whenever possible, work with Standing Committees and route proposals through the Steering Committee prior to scheduled Senate meetings

Participate in a Standing Committee’s operations, vote on their proposals, and have your votes publicly recorded

Participate in a Standing Committee’s operations, vote on their proposals, and have your votes publicly recorded

Appeal the ruling of the presider

Avoid behavior that is obviously out of order

Interrupt meetings with urgent, time-sensitive points of order

Refrain from interruptions at all other times

Secretary of Faculties:

The Secretary of Faculties acts as the Secretary to the Senate and Parliamentarian to the Senate. To the utmost extent possible, she will also act as a floor parliamentarian during meetings, although her primary function there is to assist the presider. Outside of meetings, she is happy to assist any Senators with questions about how to bring motions, navigate parliamentary norms, time actions, etc.

Executive Assistant to the Senate:

The Executive Assistant serves as the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate. They are the first point of contact for any questions you have about attendance, scheduling, or committee assignments.

Chair of the Senate:

The Chair of the Senate has a dedicated email account ( and can be reached via the web form from the Senate website. Questions for Question Time and Advisory Committee should be routed to the Senate Chair.

Chair of the Steering Committee:

The Chair of the Steering Committee is the primary point of contact for anyone who wishes to have a motion added to the Senate agenda, or looking to have an issue assigned to a proper Standing Committee.

Every regular Senate meeting includes at least ten minutes made available for Question Time. Each month, a call will go out for pre-submission of questions, which will either receive written answers posted to the Senate’s website, will be answered during Question Time, or both. It is possible to ask questions that were not pre-submitted, time permitting, but this is not preferred.

The Senate uses a web form to receive its Committee Documents; the Committee fills out the relevant portions and then the Document is generated and sent to the Steering Committee for agenda assignment. The Secretary of Faculties numbers each Document once it has been assigned to an agenda.

It is often unclear to anyone who has not been through the process just how much time it takes to usher policy through the University Senate. When planning, please keep in mind the following: 

  1. Standing Committee Documents must be routed to the Steering Committee for placement on the Senate’s agenda
  2. Most Documents are presented twice: once for discussion, and once for action. To suspend the rules and take immediate action requires a 2/3 majority vote
  3. It is expected that revision to a Document may occur between meetings in response to Senate feedback. Amendments may be submitted in writing to the Steering Committee between meetings
  4. Agendas in March and April tend to be crowded—please plan accordingly
  5. If you want any legislation passed via usual procedures by the end of the year, it would need to be routed to Steering by 3 March 2023—please plan accordingly

How does this look from the ground? Let’s say your constituent group has an idea for a proposal about cancelling class on 17 February 2023 so as to allow all of campus to come together and observe the release of Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania. The last meeting of the Senate before 17 February 2023 is on 23 January 2023, so the appropriate Standing Committee would need to be willing to present the item for discussion at the meeting prior to this—on 21 November 2022. But wait! This means the Document would need to be ready to go to the Steering Committee for agenda assignment on 4 November 2022. And so it would need to go to the appropriate Standing Committee several weeks before then, to allow the committee time to debate, revise, and vote on the measure. You’d better get started in the early fall.

Date of Senate Action

To Steering for Agenda placement

Date of Senate Discussion

To Steering for Agenda placement

For action to be taken on 12 September 2022

Noon on 26 August

Previous spring

Previous spring

For action to be taken on 17 October 2022

Noon on 30 September

12 September 2022

Noon on 26 August

For action to be taken on 21 November 2022

Noon on 4 November

17 October 2022

Noon on 30 September

For action to be taken on 23 January 2023

Noon on 6 January

21 November 2022

Noon on 4 November

For action to be taken on 20 February 2023

Noon on 3 February

23 January 2023

Noon on 6 January

For action to be taken on 20 March 2023

Noon on 3 March

20 February 2023

Noon on 3 February

For action to be taken on 20 April 2023

Noon on 31 March

20 March 2023

Noon on 3 March

Purdue University Senate follows the American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (AIPSC, or sometimes called “Standard Code”) unless our Bylaws contradict it, in which case we follow our Bylaws.

Be not afraid. AIPSC is not very different from Robert’s Rules for most common actions; in several cases it is simpler and more straightforward to use and learn.

Here are a few common actions you may wish to use:

What you want to do

What you say

Bring a new course of action to the floor

I move that …

Change the wording of something being debated

I move to amend…

Call attention to a rule of procedure that is being broken

I rise to a point of order. (Point must be raised immediately after the mistake is made.)

Request information about a procedural matter (e.g., whether a motion to amend would be in order)

I rise to a parliamentary inquiry. (Can interrupt only if the speaker requires an immediate answer.)

Request substantive information about a pending motion or its meaning

I rise to a factual inquiry. (Can interrupt only if the speaker requires an immediate answer.)

Have a proposal sent to a committee for further study / their recommendation

I move to refer […] to the […] Committee.

Request to postpone action on something

I move to postpone the motion until… (This is not the same as tabling a motion: under AIPSC, tabling is essentially a killing move.)

Suspend the rules so that immediate action may be taken on something

I move to suspend the rules so that… (2/3 vote needed)

End all debate and vote immediately on the pending matter (aka call the question)

I move to end debate and vote immediately on… (2/3 vote needed)

Appeal a decision you believe was mistaken

I appeal the ruling of the Chair (Appeal must be made immediately after the ruling.)

If you know you will be making a presentation to the Senate—e.g., suggesting an amendment; advocating for or against a particular Document; etc.—there are some steps you can take to ensure things will go smoothly.

  1. If you want to distribute material to your colleagues for feedback ahead of time or to help them prepare for the meeting, the Secretary of Faculties can usually help to facilitate this.
  2. For amendments, if you know you will be proposing one, please be sure to send a clear copy of the amendment you to the Secretary of Faculties by noon on the Friday before the Senate meeting. (Ideally, amendments would be routed through Steering, but can be accommodated later in the process as necessary.)
  3. If you plan to use slides, the Secretary of Faculties must receive your files by noon on the Friday before the Senate meeting.
  4. Please employ universal design principles in constructing your presentation. This means:
    • use large, simple fonts
    • use background and text colors that are high in contrast
    • do not try to convey information using color alone
    • when possible, use clear, simple language and keywords and phrases rather than full sentences
    • spell out abbreviations and acronyms when first used
    • videos used in your presentation must be captioned
    • images used in slides must have alt text included
    • make sure links are meaningful for colleagues using a screen reader; never use “click here” for a link

(Note: The Secretary of Faculties is available to advise on these issues in more detail): 


Chart shows legislation path for Senate committees, individual Senators, and student organizations.

An essential part of a Senator’s charge is to keep their constituents informed of Senate business, and to solicit the opinions of those constituents on Senate goals and proposed actions.

To facilitate communication, the Office of the Secretary of Faculties:

  • Maintains the Senate website, where general resources as well as recent Documents, Senate presentations, minutes, Question Time answers, etc. can be found.
  • Circulates the Senate Newsletter within a day or two of each Senate meeting, and encourages its wide circulation
  • Is available for consultation with any Senator who needs additional information about ongoing business or parliamentary procedure.
  • Arranges for Senate meetings to be livestreamed, so that interested faculty members may watch.
In addition, an archive of Senate materials dating back to 1964 is available via the library’s E-Archives; please contact the Secretary of Faculties if you’re having difficulty with a particular research question.

Senate meetings 2022-2023
(2:30-5pm; plan to try to arrive early)

  • Monday, September 12, 2022
  • Monday, October 17, 2022
  • Monday, November 21, 2022
  • Monday, January 23, 2023
  • Monday, February 20, 2023
  • Monday, March 20, 2023
  • Monday, April 17, 2023

Steering Committee meetings 2022-2023
(NB: Materials are always due by noon the Friday BEFORE the Steering Committee meeting.)

  • Monday, August 29, 2022
  • Monday, October 03, 2022
  • Monday, November 07, 2022
  • Monday, January 09, 2023
  • Monday, February 06, 2023
  • Monday, March 06, 2023
  • Monday, April 03, 2023

Memorial resolutions previously prepared by colleagues and read at a College/School faculty meeting should be sent to the Secretary of Faculties for inclusion in the agenda for an upcoming Senate meeting. During the Senate meeting, names of colleagues for whom memorial resolutions have been submitted are announced, and a moment of silence is observed. After the Senate meeting, the Secretary of Faculties sends a letter to the family with condolences and indicates that the resolution is now included in the Senate record.