Responsibilities and Processes
1. Committee Structure
In 2000 the University Council approved changes to the University’s committee structures. These are outlined in the paper “Review of Committee Structures and Processes, July 2000”. Since this paper was approved, Senate and Council have approved further changes to the structures and terms of reference of some committees. The University’s Strategic Plan 2005-2012 commits the University to “promote governance and management practices consistent with the mission and values of the University of Auckland”. An effective set of committees is an essential tool to help us achieve this goal.
We need to maintain committees that are relevant, focused, gather together the right set of people for the tasks entrusted to them, carry out their business expeditiously and effectively, and make the best possible decisions. This has to be achieved within a collegial environment and in a way that ensures that all pertinent views are heard and considered.
2. Committee Meeting Schedules
Each year a schedule of central committee meetings is approved by Senate and Council for the following year. Meetings are usually timed so that their business can be carried out and reported in a timely manner to Senate, to the Vice-Chancellor or to Council. However, it is possible that the schedule provides for too many meetings, or does not provide adequately for some committee business to be carried out. Chairs of committees may vary the committee schedule or cancel meetings if there is insufficient business.If a meeting is to be cancelled, the Secretary of the Committee should let all members know as soon as possible and inform the Room Booking Administrators so that the room booked can be released.
3. Committee Agendas and Papers
The preparation of the agenda and papers for the meeting is the responsibility of the Chair of the Committee, working with the Committee Secretary. In some cases, members will be approached for items for the agenda prior to the meeting; members have a right to suggest items which may be placed on the agenda. It is desirable that agendas reach members of committees three working days prior to the meeting. However University business is such that this is sometimes not possible. It is likely that agendas and papers arrive two or even one day prior to a meeting. Committees should avoid tabling papers at meetings.
Members of Committees should feel free to contact the Chair of the Committee prior to the meeting if they have questions about any agenda item. This can often expedite the process of the Committee.
4. Induction of new Committee Members
It is important that members of a committee get to know each other and establish a way of working effectively together.At the beginning of each year, the Committee should discuss the role, responsibilities, and processes of the Committee. An experienced member of the Committee should be designated as a liaison person for new members seeking advice on the processes and business of the Committee.
5. Responsibilities of Committee Members
Committee members usually attend meetings because they represent some constituency or have some particular expertise or responsibility in an area. Attendance is therefore important. Members should:
- Send apologies to the Committee Secretary if they cannot attend a meeting
- Ascertain if it is possible to send an alternate
- Prepare for the meeting by reading the agenda papers and thinking about points that need to be raised, clarified or discussed
- Discuss any matters that need decisions with the relevant people prior to the meeting
- Contribute to discussion
- Report back to their constituencies: this is particularly important for Faculty representatives
- Carry out any follow-up action required of them
6. Responsibilities of Chairs of Committees
The Chair of the Committee is responsible for ensuring that Committee business and meetings are effectively managed, that quality recommendations and decisions are made, and that follow up actions are completed. Chairs should ensure that a Deputy Chair is appointed so that Committee business does not halt if they are required to be absent from a meeting.
In particular, the Chair is responsible for:
- Chairing the committee meetings in a fair, objective, efficient and collegial manner
- Ensuring that members of the committee are properly inducted into the committee role, responsibilities and processes
- Determining relevant staff members who should be ‘in attendance’ at meetings
- Preparing agendas in conjunction with the committee secretary
- Establishing any sub-committees and determining their terms of reference and membership
- Reviewing and approving minutes
- Reporting committee recommendations and decisions to other University bodies
- Ensuring that policy and other decisions are effectively communicated and carried out