Skip to content Skip to navigation

Guide to Membership



This document is intended to support shared governance by establishing for common reference the roles and responsibilities of committee members, ex-officio members, consultants, and guests, and by describing the role of executive sessions in conducting Senate business. The guidelines were informed by a review of practices systemwide, guidelines promulgated at the system level[1], and The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (“Sturgis”; American Institute of Parliamentarians, 4th edition, McGraw-Hill, 2001).

Committee Membership

The Bylaws of the Merced Division distinguish two types of committee members: Senate members and student members. Some Senate committees are composed solely of Senate members, while others include student members as well. The membership of each committee is defined in the Division’s Bylaws.

Some Senate members of committees are ex-officio; these individuals are members by virtue of holding an administrative title that affords membership on the committee. For example, the Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education is an ex-officio member of Undergraduate Council, and the Vice Provost for the Faculty is an ex-officio member of the Committee for Faculty Welfare and Academic Freedom. Ex-officio members contribute the administration’s perspective to issues before the committee, thereby facilitating informed deliberation and decision-making.

Committee Member: Participation and Rights

Committee members have the right to voice their opinions on issues, have their opinions recorded, make and second motions, and vote, unless otherwise stipulated in the Bylaws. Members also count toward quorum.


As per Division Bylaws, ex-officio members are non-voting. They may voice their opinions on issues and have their opinions recorded, but they do not count toward quorum and do not vote. Administrative members aid the work of the committee by acting in a consultative capacity.

Student Members

As per Division Bylaws, student members are non-voting. As representatives of the student constituency, student members are encouraged to voice their opinions on issues and have their opinions recorded, but they do not count toward quorum and do not vote.  On all formal votes, the student opinions will be recorded and reported separately.

Consultants & Guests: Roles, Participation & rights

Committees are most effective when their work is well informed. Consultants and guests can play an important role in promoting informed deliberation and decision-making.


Consultants are usually campus staff or administrators that provide subject matter expertise to a committee. They may also be non-Senate faculty. They are not members of the committee, and therefore do not count toward quorum, do not vote, and may not make or second motions. They may be invited to attend all or portions of committee meetings.

Ideally, consultants are appointed annually. The committee chair, in consultation with the Senate Chair and Executive Director, propose functional units, or specific staff members, as consultant(s) for their individual committees. In most cases, consultants do not change from year-to-year, but new ones may be added as the need arises.


Guests are usually university staff or administrators invited to join a committee meeting for a specific purpose, typically at a specified time on the agenda.  “By invitation” guests do not have voting privileges or count toward quorum, and they may not make motions or second them.  Authority for inviting guests ultimately lies with the committee chair.

Committee Meetings & Executive Sessions

Committee meetings are intended to facilitate the business of the committee as effectively as possible. As such, meetings are typically conducted as open sessions, in which all members and consultants are present and contributing.

Committees must, however, at times discuss and act upon sensitive or confidential information in closed session. These executive sessions are for voting members only. Ex-officio members, students, and consultants may be present for executive sessions at the invitation of the committee or at the discretion of the chair.   

Committee chairs are encouraged to designate time on each meeting agenda for an executive session, which may or may not be used. By majority vote, committees may call for an executive session at any point during a meeting. 

The proceedings of executive sessions are confidential to the executive session; they are not recorded or included in the minutes. Decisions may be taken and action items should generally be noted, however, in the publicly available minutes. Movement into and out of executive session should be recorded in the minutes.


[1] Guidelines for Systemwide Senate Committees -; Roles and Responsibilities of Senate Analysts and Administrative Consultants -