Role and Expectations of a Senator

Role of a University of Alberta Senator

  • 'Inquire into any matter that might benefit the University and enhance its position in the community.' (Post-Secondary Learning Act, 2003)
  • Ask questions and expand knowledge of the University of Alberta strategic directions, impact and key messages
  • Share community perceptions regarding the University of Alberta Teaching, research and community service with key leaders and administrators.
  • Offer insights from community experiences and initiatives outside of post-secondary education.
  • Engage as a supportive catalyst.
  • Speak positively about the University of Alberta at community events on our campuses as well as across the city and province.
  • Community University contributions and key messages within circle of person, professional and community influence.
  • Lead or contribute to nominations for University awards.
  • Attend convocation ceremonies and celebrations of student, faculty, staff and alumni achievement.
  • Serve as an informal ambassador for the University of Alberta.
  • Build awareness of the value of public and private support for post-secondary education and universities in particular.
  • Assist in connecting University of Alberta people, programs and initiatives with community representatives and resources.
  • Engage peers in the community and on Senate in a range of University of Alberta programs and activities.
  • Share insights from University of Alberta experiences with other community leaders.
  • Contribute as an energetic bridge-builder.

Role of the Chancellor     Role of the University of Alberta Senate

Time Commitment:

  • Between 50 and 150 hours per year (Jan-June:  6-14 hrs/month; Jul-Aug:  1-10 hrs/month; Sept-Dec:  4-12 hrs/month).
  • Includes:
    • Attendance at Senate Plenary Meetings.
    • Attendance at Senate Standing Committee meetings, in person or by teleconference.
    • Attendance at University of Alberta ceremonial events, including Convocation in June and November.
    • Attendance at community events as an ambassador for the University of Alberta.

Expectations of a University of Alberta Senator

  • Participate in a minimum of three of four Senate Plenary Meetings each year.
  • Prepare in advance and participate in Senate Committees and/or Campus Representative, Faculty Liaison and/or Lay Observer roles.
  • Keep abreast of events and programs at the University of Alberta.
  • Support the Chancellor at Convocation and other ceremonial occasions.
    • All Senators and Senate Alumni are invited to be part of the Platform Party at any or all Convocation Ceremonies. Attendees must register in advance to ensure there will be a ceremonial robe available.
  • Participate in other campus activities of an academic, social or cultural nature, particularly those related to students.
  • Talk about the University of Alberta and facilitate opportunities for University personnel to attend community functions or speak to community groups.
  • Consult with the Senate Office if questions are received to ensure that accurate information is conveyed.
  • General ideas for Senate participation and discussion.
  • Use and create opportunities to place the interests of the University of Alberta in front of government, especially Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.
  • Volunteer for key Senate initiatives such as U School and the Chancellor's Cup Golf Tournament.
  • Become acquainted with Senate procedures and services - connect with Senate peers and staff.
  • Support and participate in fundraising projects initiated by the Senate and the University of Alberta.

Re-election and re-appointment to Senate is not automatic and is subject to peer review. Each Senate member's contribution and participation will be assessed by the Nominating Committee before a recommendation is made to Senate.

All Senate activities are supported by an administrative team in the Office of the Chancellor and Senate.

Attributes of a University of Alberta Senator

Introduction and Background
The Alberta University Act, 1906, created the Senate as the governing body of the University of Alberta. A series of revisions (1910, 1942, 1976), culminating in the Post-Secondary Learning Act of Alberta (PSLA) in 2003, brought the Senate's duties and powers to what they are today, following the provisions of the Universities Act of 1976: "It is the duty of a senate to inquire into any matter that might benefit the university and enhance its position in the community." (PSLA 13(1)).

Within the context of this legislated Mission, the Senate acknowledges its mandate to inquire, promote and connect. To this end, the Senate:

  • Fulfills its legislated responsibilities as an independent, self-governing body within the PSLA through effective governance and efficient conduct of the business of Senate.
  • Engages as a valued partner with the University of Alberta, contributing positively to the University's mandate, mission, vision, values and strategic priorities (For the Public Good).
  • Uses its collective wisdom to reflect and advance the communities' interests, acting as an advocate, catalyst and conscience for the University community.
  • Examines and thoughtfully advises on issues related to the University.
  • Uses its legislated mandate, influence and resources to advance University of Alberta learning, discovery and citizenship, with a primary focus on connecting, engaging and responding to community stakeholders.
  • Acts as a bridge between the University and the communities it serves.
  • Provides a forum in which issues and concerns about post-secondary education in Alberta may be considered.

62 members:

  • By virtue of their offices: the chancellor, who is the chair; the university president (vice chancellor); the vice-president designated by the board; the chief academic officer for student affairs; the director of extension, or if none, the officer performing comparable functions; and the president and vice-president of the alumni association.
  • Appointed members: 2 deans, appointed by the Deans' Council; 2 members of the Board, appointed by the Board; 3 members of the General Faculties Council, appointed by the General Faculties Council; 2 members of the Alumni Association, appointed by the Alumni Association; 2 non-academic staff members, appointed by the Non-academic Staff Association; 4 members of the students' association, appointed by the Council of the Students' Union; 1 graduate students' association member, appointed by the Graduate Students' Association; and, 9 members of the public, appointed by the Minister.
  • Elected, public members: 30 representative members, elected by the members of the Senate, to represent the diversities reflected in the university and the communities it serves.

Only persons who are Canadian citizens or have been lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence are eligible to be appointed as members of a Senate under subsection (3)(b)(viii) of the PSLA.

The University of Alberta Senate offers numerous opportunities for engagement and contribution for individuals who are approachable, with sound judgment, strong interpersonal skills, and the courage of personal convictions, and who have:

  • a deep and abiding interest in public education;
  • a passion for and commitment to the University of Alberta as a public institution;
  • a commitment to supporting and advancing the university's vision, strategy, and achievements; and
  • a history of active involvement and respected engagement within their community.

The following outlines additional key attributes and typical success criteria of current and prospective members of Senate, recognizing that some attributes will be developed through service on the Senate.

Attributes and Success Criteria of a University of Alberta Senator
The Ideal Candidate for Senator of the University of Alberta will be…

  • A principled and highly respected individual who acts with integrity and embraces cultural diversity.
  • An advocate, willing and able to contribute to building an equitable and diverse University of Alberta community for students, staff and faculty in the interest of the public good.
  • An inspiring and engaging individual who will work to promote the University of Alberta as a leading Canadian teaching and research institution that is admired, respected, and trusted locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Respectful of and able to act in accordance with established Senate operational and communication guidelines and protocols; and willing to support other Senate members to consolidate a consistent understanding of the senate mandate and processes.
  • A passionate ambassador and connector who seeks to create an open, inclusive, and welcoming community capable of building and growing relationships with both internal and external communities.
  • An effective communicator able to speak to and engage with a wide range of audiences as may be required.
  • Able to work both independently and collaboratively, as the situation dictates, to fulfill the senate mandate.
  • A catalyst in support of the University's commitment to leading widespread social, cultural, and economic change for the public good.
  • A connector, collaborator, and consensus-builder willing and able to challenge conventional thinking.
  • A creative and innovative advisor, willing to put forward or consider novel approaches to problem solving and issue resolution; able and willing to provide original insight and share his/her environmental scans.
  • Reasonably available to attend Senate Plenary in person, and committee meetings in person or electronically; and have available discretionary time, flexibility, and energy to carry out the broader responsibilities of a Senator, including reasonable attendance at University Convocation exercises.

The Ideal Candidate for Senator of the University of Alberta will have…

  • Respect for and the willingness to promote stewardship of the University's rich history and traditions.
  • An understanding of and commitment to equity and diversity as central to a strong University of Alberta.
  • A profound respect for the importance of the university's efforts in building bridges with Indigenous communities, including an understanding that the University of Alberta has made its home on traditional lands.
  • The demonstrated ability and willingness to create community connections and build relationships supportive of the University.
  • Reasonable digital proficiency, and able and willing to use social media in accordance with Senate and University guidelines.
  • A genuine interest in and connection to University of Alberta students and alumni.
  • The commitment to the University's role as a leader in economic and environmental sustainability and social justice.
  • A clear understanding of the role of the Senate and Senators within the University community.
  • The ability to partner with other key stakeholders in pursuit of the goals of the Senate and the University.
  • A presence and integrity that reflects the importance of the role of Senator, including a willingness to honour Senate and University traditions and ceremonies.
  • An ability and willingness to encourage and engage in healthy and constructive debate on an issue, listen actively, respect diverse opinions, and view constructive disagreement and discussion as positive and necessary to effective decision-making; and stay focused on the issue being debated.
  • A commitment to achieving results For the Public Good.

What We Do

Senate Strategic Plan

Chancellor's Forum
Task Forces
Honorary Degrees
Book the Senate Chamber
Emil Skarin Fund
Representatives, Liaisons & Lay Observers

U School Logo    Chancellor's Cup Logo

Contact Us

Office of the Chancellor & Senate
322 Arts & Convocation Hall
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB     T6G 2E6

Senate Staff Contacts