Queensborough Community College

The City University of New York

Webpages of

Philip A. Pecorino

Professor. Department of Social Sciences

Governance at Queensborough  

Prepared by Dr. Emily Tai 

Introduction: Shared Governance at the City University of New York

As professional educators faculty have a collective responsibility to participate in the governance of the colleges and universities to which they are appointed.  They fulfill this responsibility in a number of ways.  One important means is through participation in governance bodies and committees of the college alongside administrators and students who may work together to address issues of institutional importance.  It is this partnership between faculty and administration in the governance of educational institutions that gives rise to the term Shared Governance

Each faculty member, over the course of a career, is expected to participate in shared governance at the local, (departmental) level, or college wide level.  Within the City University of New York (CUNY), some faculty also serve at the university level.  It is chiefly through the structure of shared governance that faculty participate in decision-making concerning matters that are protected by Academic Freedom: who is to teach, who is to be taught, what is taught and how it is to be taught.  Academic and curricular matters are affairs for governance.  All other aspects of the operation and life of the institution come under the purview of governance as well.

The governance of CUNY is a rather complex affair.  The Board of Trustees (BOT)  is the body responsible for the operation of CUNY.[1]  It is charged by the University of the State of New York with oversight of CUNY’s operation.  The BOT has  bylaws[2] and policies[3] that are to be observed by all units of CUNY.  Each Unit of CUNY has been given certain responsibilities delegated by the BOT.  Each unit was charged by the BOT with having a governance plan that is approved by the BOT.  Each unit of CUNY has its own governing body which is responsible for setting policies at the local unit and forwarding policy proposals to the BOT for approval.  College Policies and proposals for Degree Programs and curricular matters, once approved by the local governing body, are submitted to the BOT and then to the State Education Department.

The University has a University Faculty Senate (UFS)[4], established through the BOT bylaws: Section 8.13. UNIVERSITY FACULTY SENATE.   

"There shall be a university faculty senate, responsible, subject to the board, for the formulation of policy relating to the academic status, role, rights, and freedoms of the faculty, university level educational and instructional matters, and research and scholarly activities of university-wide import. The powers and duties of the university faculty senate shall not extend to areas or interests which fall exclusively within the domain of the faculty councils of the constituent units of the university. Consistent with the powers of the board in accordance with the education law and the bylaws of the board, the university faculty senate shall make its own bylaws providing for the election of its own officers, the establishment of its own rules and procedures for the election of senators, for its internal administration and for such other matters as is necessary for its continuing operations."

The University Faculty Senate, as mandated by the Bylaws of the Board of Trustees, is responsible for the formulation of policy relating to the academic status, role, rights, and freedoms of the faculty; University-level educational and instructional matters; and research and scholarly activities of University-wide import.  University Faculty Senate members and the Faculty Governance Leaders (FGL) are consulted by members of the administration and asked to give their views on matters of import.  They are also asked to report concerning how administration and faculty may view matters that are before the CUNY Board of Trustees (BOT) and their committees. Such matters are placed on the agenda of other CUNY governing bodies and on the agenda of faculty councils and senates in CUNY.  Often the input of the UFS and FGL to the Chancellery does produce modifications in the proposals being considered.  Through its many committees and its plenary meetings and actions the UFS is involved in the formulation of policies and practices of the University.   Faculty elect representatives to serve in the UFS.  In addition, faculty may serve on the committees of the UFS.

At Queensborough,  Bylaws of the University Faculty Senate are available for the faculty’s perusal at Schmeller Library.  The Steering Committee of Queensborough’s Academic Senate has included reports of the meetings of the University Faculty Senate within the agenda of  Academic Senate Meetings at Queensborough.  In addition, the Steering Committee of Queensborough holds that it is a responsibility of the governing body leadership to inform the community about matters that may be under consideration by the UFS and the BOT, particularly when input from the campuses is being sought by the UFS or the Chancellery.  Both the Chancellor and several Vice Chancellors meet with the UFS and Faculty governance leaders at least once each semester and present these matters and listen to feedback.  Such matters as proposed policies are often presented to the CUNY Council of Presidents for their comments and suggestions.  Through communications to members of the Academic Senate at Queensborough, members of the Steering Committee of the Academic Senate are able to gauge the temper of opinion on our campus as a means to represent Queensborough Faculty throughout the shared governance structure of the wider City University of New York system. To this end the Senate Agenda contains notices of matters on the Agenda of the BOT and proposals being developed.  The Steering Committee invites members to ask questions and make comments on such matters at meetings of the Academic Senate.

Shared Governance at Queensborough: The Academic Senate 

            The Preamble to the Revised Governance Plan of Queensborough Community College summarizes the goals of shared governance in this way:  

“…The Governance of Queensborough Community College is the concern of all its members. All its constituencies — students, faculty, alumni, and administration — contribute to the maintenance and development of the College. Each has its own particular and mutual areas of concern. Because each constituency has the right to concern itself in areas that are its responsibility, this document sets forth the organization of the various bodies within the College, and guarantees their autonomy on matters within their jurisdiction. Because the constituencies are interrelated, and because all must participate in the well-being of the College as a whole, this Governance document also provides for the organization of an Academic Senate which shall include students, faculty, alumni, and administrators, which shall be the voice of the academic community of Queensborough Community College in all matters affecting the welfare of the institution. 

Queensborough has its own governance plan.[5]  At QCC the local governing body is the Academic Senate.[6] The Academic Senate contains representation for members of all constituencies of the college, as follows:

1.      The President

2.      5 Administrators selected annually by the President

3.      8 officers of Student Government

4.      41 faculty at large – elected for 3 year staggered terms

5.      the chairperson of each department (or their designee)

6.      2  Certified Laboratory Technicians (CLT)

7.      1 adjunct faculty member

8.      2 Higher Education Officers (HEO)

9.      1 alumni


The Academic Senate proceeds according to dedicated bylaws,[7] which define its purview as follows:

“…The Academic Senate shall be the voice of the academic community of Queensborough Community College of The City University of New York in all matters which shall appropriately be brought before it, including: 

    1. Extracurricular programs: athletics and cultural, fine and performing arts.
    2. Educational objectives of the College.
    3. The establishment and location of new units of the College.
    4. The periodic review of all departments of the College with the power to recommend to the Board of Trustees the creation, deletion, or restructuring of departments of the College.
    5. The formulation of the policy relating to the admission and retention of students, subject to the guidelines of the Board of Trustees, and curriculum, awarding of College credits, and granting of degrees. In granting of degrees, student members of the Senate shall not vote.
    6. The recommendation of search and evaluation procedures.
    7. And such other areas affecting the welfare of the institution. “

All meetings of the Academic Senate are presided over by the President of the College.  Academic Senate meeting agenda are set by an Academic Senate Steering Committee in consultation with the President.  The Academic Senate is the voice of the College.  Only the Academic Senate may send policy proposals to the BOT.  If the President does not approve of a proposal of the Senate there is no veto authority; however, the President may speak against the proposal to the BOT.  The governing body may send communications to the BOT including a vote of no confidence in the President or local administration.

The Academic Senate has a number of standing committees and faculty and students serve on them.  They are quite valuable to the operation of the College and are influential in shaping college practice and policy.  Service in the Academic Senate and on its Standing Committees is considered an important contribution to the College and is considered as part of the personnel review process for tenure and promotion.   On this, Queensborough’s President, Eduardo Marti, has been quite clear, as per his remarks to the faculty of March 22, 2006: 

“Let me say something about service to the College. An academic community cannot be a vibrant place without the involvement of its faculty. In those places where there is apathy, where the faculty sees its function as merely teaching class, doing a little committee work and going home, the creative atmosphere that makes our work fun is lost. The profession suddenly becomes just a job. And, we know that the monetary compensation we receive is not enough to be the sole motivator of our professional existence. We must be involved. We must be truly engaged in Academic Governance. Shortly, elections to membership of Governance Committees are going to be held. I urge all of you, specially the recent additions to our ranks, to run for committees, to run for chairmanship of committees, to run for leadership positions. Do not believe for a moment that the political nature of college governance will hurt your chances of getting tenure or of being promoted. On the contrary, good college service is recognized and respected by your peers. But, it must be done well and smartly. While it must be done diligently, it should not consume all of your time. While sometimes it is difficult to take a particular position on a particular issue, if you do it with integrity and honest concern for the welfare of the college, it is honorable and respected work. So, join those who have worked hard to make this a good place in which to teach and learn. In the ideal world, all of you would have some involvement in governance. Remember the more who become involved, the truer is the collective wisdom. Rotation of the officers is a sign of a healthy and engaged professoriate. And I, as your president, will recognize it.”  

“Just” volunteering for and being elected to a Committee is not enough to be considered as actual service. Faculty are evaluated on the basis of the substantive contribution they make to the work of each committee toward the implementation of its charge.  Agendas, minutes, and annual reports of all committees are retained in the college archives in print and digital form. Committee chairs report annually concerning the actual work performed in service to the college and the implementation of its institutional mission.

Currently, the committees of the Academic Senate consist of the Steering Committee, 18 Standing Committees and 1 Subcommittee.  They are as follows:

·         The Steering Committee (3 members)[8]

·         The Committee on Committees (9 members)[9]

·         The Committee on Academic Development and Elective Academic Programs (5 members)[10]

·         The Admissions Committee (5 members)[11]

·         The Awards and Scholarships Committee (3 members)[12]

·         The Bylaws Committee (5 members)[13]

·         The Ceremonial Occasions Committee (3 members)[14]

·         The Committee on Computer Resources (7 members)[15]

·         The Committee on Continuing Education (3 members)[16]

·         The Committee on Course and Standing (9 members)[17]

·         Sub-Committee of the Committee on Course and Standing: the Committee on the CUNY Proficiency Examination (5 members)[18]

·         The Committee on Curriculum (7 members)[19]

·         The Committee on Distance Education (5 members)[20]

·         The Committee on Environment, Quality of Life, and Disability Issues (5 members)[21]

·         The Committee on the Queensborough Gallery and Performing Arts Center (5 members)[22]

·         The Committee on the Library (3 members)[23]

·         The Committee on Publications (3 members)[24]

·         The Committee on Student Activities (3 members)[25]

·         The Committee on Vendor Services (5 members)[26]

·         The Committee on Writing in the Disciplines/Writing Across the Curriculum (5 members)[27]

Four Special Committees have been formed by the Academic Senate for the Particular Investigation or Action:

·         Special Committee of the Academic Senate on General Education Objectives (through May, 2007)[28]

·         Special Committee on Student Bill of Rights and Student Complaint Process (through May, 2007)[29]

·         Special Committee on Awards for Contribution to Governance (through May, 2007)[30]

·         Special Committee on External Assessment (through May, 2007)[31]

The members of the Steering Committee are members of the Academic Senate. The members of all the standing committees are faculty, but do not have to be members of the Academic Senate. All the standing committees, other than the Steering Committee, have specific charges according to the Bylaws of the Academic Senate; each committee meets as needed, prepares an agenda and minutes of their meetings, and distribute documents to the appropriate people.  Each committee is staffed by the designated member of faculty members, a designee of the President and the Steering Committee, and liaisons to the Committee on Committees.  There continues to be a problem with student membership on some Committees.

At the inception of each academic year, the Steering Committee prepares a “Charge Form” which is reviewed with each Committee Chair.  This form will include:

·         The Committee’s charge, as per the Bylaws;

·         Specific activities anticipated for the coming academic year;

·         Cognate Committees, with whom the chair will work;

·         How to prepare Monthly reports and recommendations (where appropriate)

·         How to prepare Annual Reports

All committees have been engaged in activities related to their charges.  In many cases committees working with the Administration have brought about actions that have been positive and supportive of the mission and proper functioning of the College. The Annual Reports describe these activities.

There is a strong commitment of support on the part of the administration for the work of the Senate Committees in terms of administrative assistance The administration has also recognized the demands of committee work in allowing an increase in the released time for the work of the Steering Committee based on an itemized listing of all activities and responsibilities for each position.  There is also released time support for the Committees on Course and Standing, Curriculum and Committees.  There has been some support for incidental items related to meetings of the Chairpersons of Senate Committees and discussions have begun concerning support for a Committee Chair development program.

Since the last Middle States review, the Academic Senate, responding to new imperatives, formed the Committee on Environment, Disability Issues, and Quality of Life; the Committee on Distance Education; the Committee on Vendor Services; the Committee on Writing in the Disciplines,-Writing Across the Curriculum.   As per the list above, four special committees of the Academic Senate have been formed and have completed their work.  We at Queensborough are proud of the flexibility of our Academic Senate committee system.

According to the Bylaws, the primary function of each Academic Senate committee shall be:

1.      to study the subjects referred to it by these bylaws or by the specific action of the Senate;

2.      to formulate appropriate policies thereon; and

3.      to propose such policies to the Senate for action.  

            In addition, every Academic Senate committee is responsible for maintaining a continuing review of College policy in its area.  To assist committees in this responsibility, they are empowered to receive information related to their charge as stated in the Bylaws:

            “Through its Steering and Standing Committees, the Academic Senate shall have    the power to request and receive information appropriate to or necessary for the  performance of its duties, from the President and members of the administration, f rom students and student organizations and from such other sources as may be             appropriate.”

             Committees are empowered to request whatever information is needed to apprise themselves of matters relevant to their charge, including any planned changes and recent initiatives.  This is done by having the committee chairperson request such information through the President’s designees to each committee of the Academic Senate.[32]

            After reviewing College policy in its area, a standing committee may report to the Senate those matters thought to be significant enough to warrant attention by the Senate.  Generally, a committee chair will first consult members of the Steering Committee.  Where appropriate, the Steering Committee will see that recommendations be reviewed by members of those college constituencies most directly related.  This discussion process will proceed the submission of any recommendation a committee may elect to  set  before the Academic Senate as a proposed resolution for a College policy.  Such items in accord with the Bylaws would be discussed at the monthly Academic Senate Agenda Meetings that occur between the Administration and the Steering Committee. 

            At times a committee may decide that to facilitate and further distribute the work the creation of a sub-committee of the committee or the creation of a special committee of the Senate might be needed. The Bylaws allow for the formation of special committees and sub-committees for a specific purpose. The creation of such committees would be discussed with and assisted by actions of the Steering Committee.

            From time to time the Steering Committee may determine that it is necessary to have the Academic Senate consider a Policy for the College.  In this case, the matter is presented on the Agenda either under New Business or, if not that significant a matter, as part of the monthly report of the Steering Committee.  Such matters are brought to the Senate through the work of Standing Committees or from the Administration or the Student Government or the Steering Committee.

            The Academic Senate is the voice of the College and the governance body.  It is the sole body authorized by the Board of Trustees to set policies and to make recommendations to the Board of Trustees.  It is a representative body.  The major constituencies of the College are represented within the Senate: students, faculty, department chairpersons, administration, college lab technicians, Higher Education Officers and alumni. 

            Matters brought before the Senate usually have the support of at least one constituency.  Generally, it is established that matters are not brought before the Academic Senate until there has been consultation on the matter with the leadership of at least two or three of the constituencies with the community of shared governance. The Administration meets with the Steering Committee at least two weeks prior to each meeting of the Academic Senate in order that members of the Administration may be presented with matters of importance concerning which the Administration has an interest.  On important matters and proposals, members within the shared governance community strive to achieve a consensus or secure majority support for measures brought to the Senate before they are placed on the Agenda.

            Partnership between administration and faculty in shared governance continues even when the college is not in session, as per the Bylaws:

 “The Steering Committee of the Academic Senate shall represent the interest of and uphold the policies adopted by the Academic Senate when it is not in session. It shall report to the Senate, at its next regular meeting, such College actions that may have been implemented while the Academic Senate was not in session. If such action requires the immediate establishment of new policy, a special meeting of the Academic Senate shall be called.”

The Steering Committee fulfills this charge and dutifully represents the interest of the Senate in the welfare of the College and in the process of Shared Governance.  It upholds the policies of the College and act in a manner consistent with its charge and bring matters of importance to the Senate for its consideration. Over the last three years the President has formed only two special Task Forces outside of Academic Senate shared governance structures: a Task Force which reviewed the use of space on Campus, and a Task Force devoted to the Library.  Members of the Academic Senate are also now represented at the President’s pre-planning meetings for the development of the College strategic plan.  Academic Senate representation at this meeting enables items from the Senate recommendation committee to be brought forth for consideration. 

Additional Queensborough Institutions of Shared Governance: Faculty and Students 

At Queensborough, the faculty exercise considerable authority in matters of the College.  The Faculty have their own Bylaws.[33]  From those bylaws:


6.1                        The Faculty shall be responsible for the academic status, role, rights, obligations, and freedoms of the Faculty, and such other matters that may affect the welfare of the Faculty consistent with this document. The Faculty through its Faculty Executive Committee may address communications to the Board of Trustees. 

              6.2                        Review of Academic Senate Actions: The Faculty shall have the right to review     any action of the Academic Senate. A special meeting shall be called by a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the Faculty to discuss the issues involved. A majority of those present can initiate a referendum to be held no later than four (4) weeks after the general meeting. If the majority vote is against a referendum, one may still be called by a second petition of one-third (1/3) of the Faculty. The actions of the Academic Senate shall be nullified by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Faculty voting by written poll (provided at least fifty percent [50%] of the total Faculty casts ballots). 

              6.3                        Initiation of Academic Senate Agenda Items 

6.3a          The Faculty may initiate policy, bylaws, or regulations for consideration by the Academic Senate either by a simple majority of a faculty meeting or by a petition of ten percent (10%) of the Faculty; such items shall be placed on the agenda of the next meeting of the Academic Senate in accordance with the Bylaws of the Academic Senate. 

6. 3b         The Faculty may initiate policy, bylaws, or regulations directly through an initiative referendum by written poll conducted by the Faculty Executive Committee. The faculty may request such a referendum at a regular or special meeting. A special meeting shall be called by a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the Faculty to discuss the issues involved; a majority of those present can initiate a written referen­dum to be held no later than four weeks after the general meeting. A written poll regarding amendments to these bylaws shall require an affirmative vote of the majority eligible to vote as noted in 13.2. 

6.4            The Faculty may adopt its own Bylaws consistent with the Bylaws of the Board of Trustees and with the Governance Plan.

 6.5      The Faculty through its Faculty Executive Committee shall have access to all rele­vant information as it deems necessary for the fulfillment of its responsibilities.

So, the faculty may vote to veto any matter approved by the Academic Senate.  The Faculty may also call for a special meeting of the Academic Senate and place matters on the agenda of that meeting.  The faculty are governed by their BYLAWS and they elect a FACULTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (FEC) to represent the interests of the faculty.   The FEC is elected to three year terms.  The Head of the Faculty, who serves as the chair of the faculty committee, is also elected to a three year term. The Faculty Executive Committee should be consulted on matters that are of direct interest to or related to the faculty.  The Faculty Executive Committee may form committees of the faculty.  The FEC may also sponsor and organize meetings of the faculty.  There is a meeting of the faculty each semester.

There is also a student government at Queensborough.  The student government elects its own officers.  Several of the highest officers serve as members of the Academic Senate.  Academic Senate members are advised to respect student government as an autonomous constituency.  Matters related to their interests should be referred to the Students, and not to the Office of Student Affairs unless the leaders of the Student government so indicate.

Report on the Status of the Senate and Governance:

Over the past four years, members of the Academic Senate, under the leadership of its Steering Committee, acting in partnership with Queensborough’s Instructional Technology and Academic Computer Staff, have utilized technology to realize a spectrum of goals within the domain of college governance, including public access, transparency, the integration of new faculty into the governance process, and environmental sustainability. 

As of this writing, electronic promulgation has facilitated full advertisement of every Academic Senate meeting.   Public Notices are now given of all Senate Meetings and Steering Committee Meetings.  All Senate Meetings and Steering Committee Meetings are open to the public. Prior to each meetings, full agendas are made available, electronically to all members of the College community—not just Senate members.  These agendas include the highlighting of items requiring Senate action, as well as links to minutes of meetings by the CUNY UFS and BOT.  The Senate’s Committee on Committees maintains a full roster for the Senate including members of the Student delegation.  As of 2007, Electronic Voting has also been introduced in order to create an electronic record of votes taken.  After meetings, Agenda and Minutes of all Senate meetings and their committees are made via the Queensborough website and archives.  This allows Queensborough’s governance system to act in full compliance with the New York State v. Perez (the “Perez Decision”) as well as Open Meetings Law. 

The Queensborough website also facilitates the orientation of new faculty, who are able to learn about college governance as they read about the background, charge, and members of each committee on the governance website.  Faculty may also peruse “Committee Guides” authored by Dr. Philip Pecorino (Chair, Academic Senate Steering Committee, 2004-present) and Professor Kathleen Villani (Vice-Chair/Secretary, Academic Steering Committee, 2004-2007) for members of the Steering Committee; all Committee Chairpersons; faculty members of Each Standing Committee and Student Members.  Because such guides are available as web documents (and PDFs for download), the College is able to limit paper use (a “paperless campus”) and address environmental Concerns.



Bylaws of the Academic Senate


Governance page of Queensborough Community College


Senate Meeting Calendar


Agenda (current month)




Past Agendas


Senate Roster


Senate Officers


Governance Plan


Bylaws of the Faculty


Faculty Handbook


CUNY Board of Trustees Bylaws






[8] For documents of this committee, see Queensborough Website at Steering Committee.

[9] See QCC website at Committee On Committees.

[11] See QCC website at Admissions. 

[12] See QCC website at Awards & Scholarships.

[13] See QCC website at Bylaws.

[14] See QCC website at Ceremonial Occasions.

[15] See QCC website at Computer Resources.

[16] See QCC website at Continuing Education.

[17] See QCC website at Course & Standing .

[18] See QCC website at Sub-Committee on CPE.

[19] See QCC website at Curriculum.

[20] See QCC website at Distance Education.

[23]  See QCC website at Library.

[24] See QCC website at Publications.

[25] See QCC website at Student Activities .

[26] See QCC website at Vendor Services.

[27] See QCC website at WID WAC.

[32] The charges for each Committee appear in the Bylaws of the Academic Senate may be found at http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/Governance/AcademicSenate/academic_senate_bylaws.asp#VII. 



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