Senate History

Expanded Edition

T.M. Norton
Professor of Political Science,



In October, 1992, the Chair-elect of the Academic Senate, Irene Miura, asked me to give a report on the history of the Senate at its annual retreat. I did so, speaking for about 15 minutes. She then requested me to prepare a written copy of my remarks for the Senate files. Obviously there has been some delay in complying with this request, delay which is only partly accounted for by the collection of additional material and the necessary rewriting. It is still by no means a complete history of the Senate, but I have attempted to record the high points of the body's constitutional development and its contributions to the university since 1963.

These are personal notes. They are not comprehensive, nor are they totally impartial. I have mentioned only a few names, and I apologize to the many deserving senators not identified. I have not gone into much detail about my own involvement in the events described, although, having served on the Council/Senate on and off since 1967 and having been its chair twice and chair of several of its committees, I played some part in many of them. A more complete account can be found in the minutes and measures of the body, if anyone is curious.

My own recollections are my main source. I have reviewed the official minutes on many points. The University's official history, Washington Square 1857-1979, by Benjamin Gilbert and Charles Burdick, both Professors of History here, has supplied some information, but it is not closely focused on the doings of the Senate.

These notes were read in manuscript by my friends (we all joined the SJS faculty in 1960) Fauneil J. Rinn, Professor of Political Science, Emerita, and Peter M. Buzanski, Professor of History, and their suggestions are gratefully acknowledged. I am also grateful for the advice and assistance of Ms. Erica Ankuda, who served with distinction as the Senate's administrative secretary for many years. Responsibility for errors is, of course, mine alone.

T. M. Norton
September, 1995

Preface to the Expanded Edition

The original version of these notes ended with the retirement of President Fullerton in 1991.  This version has been extended to cover the period leading up to the appointment of President Robert Caret in 1995 and some new developments in the organization and procedure of the Senate in 1996 and 1997.  Of the additions to the original text, some deal with details that I overlooked earlier and some, particularly from the years before 1960, are based on personal communications from participants.

I have once more had the valued assistance of Peter Buzanski.  I must note, with deep regret, the death of Fauneil Rinn. The Alquist Center for Innovative Learning provided technical assistance for both this and the earlier version.  The University Library's Special Collections supplied some useful research assistance.  Again, I am solely responsible for all errors, old and new.

T. M. Norton
August, 1999


Read the Notes on the History of the Academic Senate, San José State University