Berkeley's Academic Senate History

History of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate

On this occasion of the campus's 150th anniversary, we have created a timeline of the history of the Berkeley Division.

Stephens Hall and sundial
Stephens Hall with people
EBI Meeting Audience

Explore the timeline.

1868: The Beginning

Establishment of the University of California, including establishment of an "academic senate" consisting of all faculty and deans and presided over by the President. The senate's role is "for the purpose of conducting the general administration of the university."

1899: The Senate's authority grows

Under President Benjamin Ide Wheeler and with the general approval of the Regents, the Senate is given authority to create new departments, organize the curriculum into lower and upper-division courses, do peer review for hiring and promotion of faculty, and oversee research funds and the university press.

1919-1920: Standing Order of the Regents

As President Wheeler's term comes to an end, the Regents go through a number of governance options, culminating in an agreement that gives the Senate power over admissions; an advisory role to the president on faculty appointment, privilege, and tenure decisions; advisory roles regarding eductional policy and budget issues; and control over its own organization and committees.

1930: The Great Depression

At the request of new President Robert Gordon Sproul and in response to a 26% funding cut by the state, the Senate creates Committee on Educational Policy to help establish methods to cut costs, raise revenues, and contain the regional college movement.

1946: All-University Faculty Conference

Toward the end of World War II, the first "All-University Faculty Conference" of faculty across UC campuses is held "to consider the challenges of the post-war era," with conferences following each year for 40 years.

1950: The Loyalty Oath Debate

The Senate is divided over the new requirement for a "loyalty oath," with 32 faculty fired, others resigning, and antagonism among the faculty and between the faculty, president, and Regents.

1963: Each Campus gets its own Senate Division

Northern and Southern sections of the Senate are disbanded in favor of divisions of the Senate and a faculty Division Chair at each individual campus, providing autonomy from both the systemwide and campus administrations.

1964: The Free Speech Vote

The Berkeley Division of the Senate overwhelmingly passes a resolution supporting the Free Speech Movement on campus.

1967: Senate goes against the Regents to support Kerr

The Senate supports President Clark Kerr against the Regents' vote, led by new Governor Ronald Reagan, to fire him.

1989: New Admissions Policies

The Senate's "Karabel Report" recommends new admissions policies for Berkeley, based on the academic excellence and outstanding accomplishment of applicants, the university's service to the state, and diversity.

1989: American Cultures Requirement

The Berkeley Division votes to add an American Cultures course requirement; courses must address theoretical and analytical issues relevant to understanding race, culture, and ethnicity in American history and society.

2001: Response to the 9/11 Bombings and the Patriot Act

The Berkeley Division issues a Statement in Support of Civil Liberties and Academic Freedom in response to the USA Patriot Act, passed after the World Trade Center bombings on 9/11.

2004: Berkeley Faculty Service Award

The Berkeley Division creates The Berkeley Faculty Service Award (BFSA), which honors a member of the Division for their outstanding and dedicated service to the campus. This award recognizes Senate service, which is essential to the ideal of shared governance, and contributions that have had a lasting and significant impact on the excellence of the Berkeley campus.

2009: Online Education

The Berkeley Division and Systemwide Senate begin to create policies regarding online courses and degree programs.

2018: The Senate moves forward

As an integral part of the campus' academic strategic planning initiative, the Berkeley Division of the Senate recommends policies that will guide the campus for years to come.

NOTE: “Shared Governance at the University of California: An Historical Review,” a paper by John Aubrey Douglass (CSHE, 1998), was a source for this timeline.