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Chancellor and Senate fonds

  • Fonds 2000-93
  • Fonds
  • 1990-1994

The Chancellor and Senate fonds are among the oldest and most significant records in the University of Alberta Archives. These records document the very inception of the University when through the University of Alberta Act in 1906, the Senate was created as the sole governing body of the University of Alberta. At its first meeting in March 1908, the Senate set the policy for the opening of the University in September 1908. The focus and mandate of the Senate has changed in the ensuing years, but it remains an important component of the University landscape. The Senate represents the public face of the University, and functions with the understanding that “an ongoing relationship with the community is fundamental to the effectiveness of the University.” (Senate brochure)

The Chancellor and Senate records deposited with the University Archives span the period from the Senate’s establishment as the governing body of the University, to its present functions within the University milieu. These records were received in numerous accessions over the past years, and although physically dispersed, are brought together intellectually in this comprehensive finding-aid to the fonds.

The records have been arranged within three broad series, and further arranged according to sub-series designations as well. Series 1 is the Chancellor and Senate Office administrative records, and include the Executive Officer files; Senate Office files related to Senate membership, correspondence, public relations, and financial matters; and Senate meetings. The meeting files are extensive, and fairly complete in terms of years represented. Early Senate meeting minutes were recorded in bound minute books and are complete from 1903 through 1970. Beginning in 1949, individual meeting files were maintained and contain agendas, minutes, related correspondence, and printed attachments related to specific Senate meetings. The Series 1 records present an excellent overall view of the day-to-day function of the Senate, and document its evolving role within the University of Alberta.

Series 2 records represent the Operational records of the Chancellor and Senate, and include those records related to the research and gathering of information, and the public presentation of this gathered knowledge. Sub-series within this broad series include Reports (usually ones presented to the Senate); Committees; Task Forces; and Hearings/Investigations/Commissions. The records are often quite linked within these sub-series; for example, an Ad Hoc Committee might be struck to consider a specific issue or topic, and this in turn may lead to the establishment of a task force to further develop and explore the topic, as well as prepare a comprehensive report on the findings. The Committee files document activities of the Senate standing committees and ad hoc committees, as well as joint University-wide committees with Senate representation. A particularly significant Senate activity involves the conferring of honorary degrees, and the Honorary Degree Committee files provide a wealth of information about the recipients of these degrees. Their files often contain biographical information about the recipient, nominating papers, photographs, and related correspondence. As the Chancellor is involved with all convocations, the Convocation Committee files also present a variety of information related to honorary degrees specifically, and convocation generally. There are often convocation programs, speeches, invitations, and planning documents. Within the Task Force sub-series, records concerning twenty-five task force investigations are represented, and arranged in their chronological order of establishment within the finding aid. The fourth sub-series of Hearings/Commissions/Investigations is a smaller set of records, and relates to broader University and public wide inquiries.

The final series of records relates to the Chancellors’ papers. While information about the role of the Chancellor can be gleaned from all three series of records, this particular series focuses on the role of individual chancellors. Sub-series include Chancellor Installation ceremonies; Chancellor meetings; photographs; and the papers of individual Chancellors. The series is limited in that only nine individual Chancellors are represented (18 Chancellors have served the University between 1908 and 2008), and some of this information is sketchy and limited in scope. However, further information about individual Chancellors can be researched by consulting their private paper donations, or considering the correspondence files in Series 1.

The Chancellor and Senate fonds form a significant contribution to the documentation of the history and ongoing activities of the University of Alberta.

Mactaggart, Sandy A.