The College Senate, in its current form, came into being in 1971. It replaced what had been a tripartite system of governance that consisted of a Faculty Council, a Student Council, and an Administrative Council. While these deliberated as separate bodies, each provided for specific representation from the other councils so that there was communication among them and some interlocking via membership. However, this form of governance not only proved to be cumbersome, but also prone to foster divisiveness since it encouraged the practice of presenting issues and proposals most likely to be sympathetic on a given issue. In addition to the Faculty Council, the Student Council, and the Administrative Council, another group acted in an advisory capacity to the President of the College and was widely perceived as a "kitchen cabinet."
- Present Senate
The original proposal for the present Senate included all the constituencies now represented except students. There was strong feeling in the college community both for and against the inclusion of students as voting members. The inclusion of students and number of student Senators (12) is a result of a series of compromises between those who had proposed and those who opposed seating students as Senators.
- College Senate Web site
In 1997, the College Senate Curriculum Committee established a Web site to facilitate communication about curricular matters. In 1999, a separate Web site for the full Senate was established. In 2001, the approved minutes of the College Senate began to be posted on the Web site regularly. Maintenance of the College Senate and of the College Senate electronic elections (introduced in spring 2000, and formally approved as an option in fall 2000) has been informal, based on interest/talent of senators and members of standing committees of the Senate. In 2007, the College Senate Web Site was redesigned. The site maintenance is the responsibility of the College Senate Office and corrections/additions for the site should be directed to the Secretary of the College Senate.