Committee responsibilities and processes

Committee structure

The University’s Strategic Plan 2013-2020 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 helps us achieve this goal.

A University’s committee structure is dynamic. We need to maintain committees that are relevant, focussed, 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. These objectives have to be achieved within a collegial environment and in a way that ensures that all pertinent views are heard and considered.  

Committee meeting schedules

Each year a schedule of central committee meetings is approved by Senate and Council for the following year. Committee meeting rooms in the ClockTower Building are booked through the online Room booking system and confirmed by Vice-Chancellor's Office Reception, room booking administrators who can be contacted on ext: 85855 or email:     

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 administrator(s) so that the room booked can be released.

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. Committees should avoid tabling papers at meetings, unless the matter in hand is urgent.

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.

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.

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 appropriate individuals and constituencies prior to the meeting
  • Acknowledge and disclose any conflicts of interest
  • Contribute to discussion
  • Report back to their constituencies: this is particularly important for faculty representatives
  • Carry out any follow-up action required of them.  

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, ensuring that conflicts of interest are included as an agenda item
  • Determining action in respect to disclosures of conflicts of interest, and ensuring that disclosures and actions taken are recorded in the meeting minutes
  • 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.

Responsibilities of committee secretaries

Secretaries are responsible for the day-to-day administration of the committees. Their main tasks are:

  • Developing a meeting schedule and establishing deadlines for meeting agendas
  • Maintaining up-to-date list of committee members and their terms of office
  • Providing new members with relevant information regarding terms of reference, membership, meeting schedule and meeting deadlines
  • Arranging for room bookings outside of the ClockTower
  • Setting up conference calling and technical equipment
  • Organising catering
  • Preparing the draft agenda and collating the papers
  • Distributing the agenda after its approval by the chair, at least three working days prior to the meeting
  • Recording apologies
  • Prior to the meeting, advising the Chair about the apologies and about any information that came up after distribution of the agenda
  • Taking notes at the meeting
  • Writing the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting
  • After approval of the draft minutes by the chair, circulating the unconfirmed minutes to the members
  • Keeping record of all committee related documents.

John Morrow
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
15 January 2020

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