University Governance

Stanford University is governed by a Board of Trustees, President, Provost, Academic Council and a number of other academic and administrative officers.

The Board of Trustees

The powers and duties of our Board of Trustees are derived from the Founding Grant, amendments, state legislation, and court decrees. The Board of Trustees is custodian of the endowment and all properties of the University. The Board administers the invested funds, sets the annual budget, and determines policies for operation and control of the University.

The President

The Board delegates broad authority to the president to operate the university and to the faculty on certain academic matters. The Founding Grant prescribes that the Board shall give to the president the following powers:

  • To prescribe the duties of the professors and teachers;
  • To prescribe and enforce the course of study and the mode and manner of teaching;
  • Such other powers as will enable the president to control the educational part of the University to such an extent that the president may justly be held responsible for the course of study therein and for the good conduct and capacity of the professors and teachers.

The president also is responsible for the management of financial and business affairs of the University, including operation of the physical plant.

The Provost

The Provost, as the chief academic and budget officer, administers the academic program (instruction and research in schools and other unaffiliated units) and University services in support of the academic program (student affairs, libraries and information resources, and institutional planning). The Provost shares with the President the conduct of the University’s relations with other educational institutions, groups, and associations.

The Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate is the legislative body of the Academic Council and has responsibility for academic and research policy as well as the authority to grant degrees. In addition to formulating policy, the Senate reviews, via its committees,  several types of curriculum matters: proposals or reviews of degree granting programs, and, periodically, broad curriculum reforms resulting from ad hoc university level review committees which examine university wide curriculum issues such as general education requirements, writing requirements and other similar programs for all undergraduates. The Senate also reviews interdisciplinary degree granting programs (IDPs) as well as proposals for new degree granting programs, including honors and joint degree programs (JDPs) and name changes of departments and programs.

The Professorate

Like most universities, Stanford has shared governance on academic matters with the faculty. The Academic Council is vested with the authority to decide matters of policy within the province of the Professoriate, subject to the power of disapproval of the Board of Trustees. The powers of the Academic Council are exercised through the actions of the Academic Council itself, the Senate, the Academic Council Committees, the Advisory Board, and the Academic Council Professoriate.

The Senate of the Academic Council exercises the deliberative and legislative functions of the Academic Council which, in general, has the power and responsibility for the academic administration of the University subject to limitations by the Board of Trustees. In addition to formulating policy, the Senate reviews, via its committees, several types of curriculum matters: proposals or reviews of degree granting programs, and, periodically, broad curriculum reforms resulting from ad hoc university level review committees which examine university wide curriculum issues.

The Advisory Board of the Academic Council is comprised of seven full tenured professors elected by the Senate. All recommendations for appointments, promotions, and for the creation and dissolution of departments must be submitted to the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board also handles certain faculty appeals and conducts faculty discipline hearings.

For more information about university governance, please see The Faculty Handbook, Section 1.2 (University Governance).