This brief synopsis provides an overview of the governance process at Nipissing University. It explains how the university is governed and identifies the different parties involved and their role in the governance of the institution.

Nipissing University Act 1992

* Nipissing became a chartered university on December 10, 1992.

  • The Nipissing University Act created Nipissing University and dissolved Nipissing College.
  • The Act set out the structure and duties of the Board and Senate.
  • The Act established the positions of Chancellor and President as well as their roles and method of appointment.
  • The Act outlined “transition” matters between the former ‘college’ and the new ‘university’

Amendment to Act – 2001 

  • In 2001, the Act was amended to allow Nipissing University the power and authority to grant “any and all degrees, honorary degrees and diplomas in all branches of learning.”
  • Minor amendments were made to clarify terms of office for Board and Senate members.

University Chancellor 

  • The Chancellor is the titular head of the University (as defined in the Act).
  • The Chancellor is appointed by the Board and is a member of the Board by virtue of his/her office.  The Chancellor has voting privileges at the Board and committee level.
  • The Chancellor’s term of office is four years and he/she may be appointed for a maximum of two consecutive terms.
  • The Chancellor presides at all Convocations and confers all degrees.

University President 

  • The President is the Chief Executive Officer who supervises the direction of the academic and general administration of the university.
  • The President is an appointed officer of the Board by virtue of his/her position.
  • The President is a voting member of the Board of Governors.

Appointed Officers of the Board 


  • The Secretary of the Board shall be directly responsible to the President and shall have charge of the minutes and records of the Board.
  • The Board Secretary is an Officer of the Board by virtue of his/her position, but has no voting privileges.

Vice Presidents and Other Officers 

  • The Board may, on the recommendation of the President, acting on advice from the Senate, appoint one or more Vice-Presidents and other officers who shall have such powers and duties as may be conferred on them by the Board.
  • The Vice-Presidents do not have voting privileges.

“Bicameral” Governance Structure

Nipissing University’s governance structure is “bicameral” which means “two houses” or “two bodies” – referring to the Academic Senate and the Board of Governors. The Board and Senate each have distinct responsibilities within Nipissing’s bicameral governance system. There is much interaction between the two governing bodies – for example, there are Board representatives on the Academic Senate and Senate representatives on the Board. Both bodies have the power to create By-laws that prescribe how they conduct business.

The mandates of the Senate and Board are accomplished, respectively, through the use of standing committees and “ad hoc” or special committees (“ad hoc” committees generally convene for a short timeframe for a specific purpose).

Some Facts about Board and Senate 

  • The Board Chair and Vice-Chair are elected annually by the members.
  • The Board Chair conducts all Board meetings in accordance with the Board By-laws and rules of parliamentary procedure.
  • The President is the Chair of Senate.
  • A Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Senate are elected bi-annually by the members. The Speaker conducts all Senate meetings in accordance with the Senate By-laws and rules of parliamentary procedure.
  • In 2008, a historical change was made to restructure the Academic Senate to become a representative Senate. Previously, all full-time faculty members were members of the Senate. The current Senate is comprised of 61 members.
  • Senate meetings usually are held the second Friday of each month at 2:30 p.m. in Room F210. They are open to anyone interested in attending.  
  • Bound copies of past Senate minutes are kept in the President’s office for reference. Bound copies of past Board minutes are kept in the Board Secretary’s office for reference.

Mandate of the Board 

  • The mandate of the Board of Governors is to govern the university, its property and revenues, its business and affairs, with the exception of those matters assigned to Senate.
  • The Board of Governors’ role is to ensure that management effectively strives for high performance in the exercise of this mandate. The main areas of responsibility under this role include the review and approval of strategic plans as well as operating and capital budgets. The day to day management of the university is the responsibility of the President and other senior management.
  • Regular meetings of the Board of Governors are scheduled throughout the year. Unscheduled meetings may be held from time to time as required.
  • The Board discharges its responsibilities through committees.

Powers of the Board 

  • Appoint, promote, suspend, grant leave to or remove the teaching staff, Deans of faculties, and all other officers and employees of the university
  • Appoint or remove the President
  • Grant or terminate tenure to faculty
  • Fix the duties, salaries and benefits of officers and employees of the university
  • Appoint and discharge committees
  • Plan and implement the university’s physical development
  • Establish and collect fees and charges for academic tuition and for services of any kind that may be offered by the university 
  • Regulate employees’ and visitors’ conduct regarding use of university property
  • Establish and enforce regulations with regard to the use and occupancy of university buildings and facilities
  • Make By-laws and regulations for the conduct of its affairs

Board Composition 

The Board of Governors of Nipissing University is comprised of 26 members:

  • Chancellor
  • President
  • Mayor or designate
  • 6 LGIC appointments
  • 7 members representing the public 
  • 4 Senate representatives
  • 2 students
  • 2 non-academic employees
  • 1 Alumni representative
  • 1 Aboriginal Council on Education representative

Elected or appointed members may serve for six consecutive years (i.e., two three-year terms).  The term begins July 1st.

The Chair and Vice-Chair are elected at the May Annual Meeting of the Board for a one-year term.

Board Committees include:

  • Executive Committee
  • Academic Affairs Committee
  • Advancement Committee
  • Audit & Finance Committee
  • Human Resources Committee
  • Plant and Property Committee
  • University Governance Committee

Mandate of the Senate 

The mandate of the Senate is to establish the educational policies of the university and make recommendations to the Board regarding any matter of academic concern to the university.

Powers of the Senate

  • Recommend to the Board the establishment, maintenance, modification or termination of organizational structures such as departments, faculties, schools, departments or chairs within the University
  • Establish, modify or remove curricula of all courses of instruction, including extension courses
  • Determine procedures for and polices concerning the qualifications of members of faculty within the University with respect to appointments, promotions and the granting and termination of tenure
  • Determine standards of admission of students to the University
  • Determine conduct and results of examinations in all faculties
  • Hear and determine appeals from faculty councils on examinations and admission applications
  • Grant all degrees including honorary degrees, diplomas, certificates and other awards
  • Consider and coordinate long-range academic planning
  • Consider and recommend policies to the Board policies concerning the allocation or use of University resources for academic purposes
  • Create councils and committees with the authority to act on any matter
  • Make By-laws and regulations for the conduct of its affairs

Senate Composition

The membership of the Academic Senate consists of:

  • President (chair)
  • Provost Vice-President Academic & Research
  • Associate Vice President Academic Studies
  • Deans of each Faculty
  • Registrar
  • Executive Director of Library Services
  • 2 Board representatives
  • 7 Student representatives
  • Elected faculty Senators (41 elected for the 2014-15 academic year)
  • 2 Elected faculty Senators (one from each of the regional campuses)
  • 2 Elected limited-term representatives
  • 2 Elected instructor representatives (<12 month appointees)
  • 1 Alumni Advisory Board representative
  • 1 Aboriginal Council on Education representative

Senate Committees Include:

Executive, Planning & Priorities, Undergraduate Studies, Graduate Studies, Teaching & Learning, Student Appeals, Research Council

Conflict of Interest

  • The Nipissing Act specifies that a member of the Board or of a committee who has any interest in a matter in which the university is concerned shall declare his/her interest as soon as possible (and no later than at any meeting at which the matter is to be considered).
  • The member shall not take part in the discussion or vote on the matter and may be required by the Board to withdraw from the meeting during the discussion.
  • Despite the above, every member of the Board or committee who is an employee of the universitymay take part in discussions and vote on matters related to the financial operation of the university, with the exception of matters related to the remuneration, benefits or working conditions of a class or group of employees of the university.
  • If the Board or committee is of the opinion that a conflict of interest exists but has not been declared, the Board or committee may, by resolution, declare (as provided by the Board By-laws) that a conflict of interest exists.
  • The member found to be in conflict shall withdraw from the discussion and refrain from voting on the matter that gave rise to the conflict. The member may be required by the Board or committee to withdraw from the meeting during the discussion.
  • Every member of the Board of Governors is required to complete a ‘Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest’ form that is kept on file. These forms are confidential

Meeting Procedures 

  • Meetings are conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order.
  • Before the meeting, Board members are asked to pick up their name plate and handouts (located at the back table).
  • The Agenda is mailed out one week in advance of the Board meeting.
  • Board meetings have both an open and closed session. Media attend only the open session.
  • The Open Session of Board meetings can be attended by the public.
  • The Board may exclude members of the public from the part of a meeting during which a matter confidential to the university is considered.
  • Issues discussed in closed session include human resources, faculty negotiations or development.
  • Meetings are held in the Board Room (F303). There is a brief break (approx. 10 minutes) between the open and closed session of the Board meeting. The Board meetings usually last 3 hours.
  • Board members are asked to bring their Board binder to each meeting.
  • The Board Chair conducts the meeting; Committee chairs will act as ‘mover’ for resolutions from their committee.
  • Voting is conducted by a show of hands indicating “all in favour”, “all opposed” and “any abstentions” to the motion presented. After the vote, the Board Chair will announce whether the motion is carried or defeated.
  • More information pertaining to parliamentary rules for meetings can be found on the last two pages of the Board By-laws.