There were various antecedents of the Professorial Board between 1851 and 1886 when the Professorial Board was established. It was dissolved on 17 June 1975 and replaced by the Academic Board, which has subsequently undergone a number of reviews.
- 1851 - 1886: Antecedents of the Professorial Board
- 1886 - 1975: Professorial Board
- 1975 - present: Academic Board
From 1851 to 1886 a Board existed which considered all general questions relating to the studies of the University, or which were referred to them by the Senate. A temporary Board was first recommended, with the permanent Board subsequently established being variously named (in order) "Professorial Board", "Conference Board" and "Board of Studies".
On 10 April 1851, Senate's discussion of a Committee Report included the following: “With reference to the Board of Management which will be incomplete until the arrival of the Professors your Committee recommend that three members of the Senate should be appointed with the lecturers for the management of all matters connected with the College in the interval and that the temporary Board so constituted be invested with the same powers and be subject in the same rules and regulations as the permanent Board."
Initially the "Professors and Lecturers shall form a Board, of which the Vice-Provost (Vice-Chancellor) shall be ex officio a member" (University Calendar, 1852-53).
By 1856, the Provost (Chancellor) had been added as an ex officio member.
By 1862 the Constitution of the Board had become: "The Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor, and the Professors of the three several Faculties".
The Chairman of the Professorial Board was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts
Terms of reference:
The Board's initial role was "for the consideration of all questions relating to the studies of the University" (1852-53 Calendar.)
By 1856, the wording had become: "for the consideration of all general questions relating to the studies of the University, or which may be referred to them by the Senate".
From 1876, there is a slight change in the wording, as follows: "for the consideration of all general questions relating to the studies of the University, which may be referred to them by the Senate".
The first meeting of the Professorial Board was held on 29 May 1853, and a copy of the minutes appears below:
The Board was renamed the Conference Board around 1862.
Board of Studies
By 1876 the Board was named the Board of Studies, the name continuing until 1886 when the Board of Studies was amalgamated with the Proctorial Board to form the new Professorial Board (see below).
In addition, a Proctorial Board had been established for the maintenance of discipline, which met for the first time on 13 February 1857. "The Provost, the Vice-Provost, the Senior Professor of Classics, the Senior Professor of Mathematics, and the Senior Professor of Chemistry and Experimental Physics, shall form a Board, to be called the 'Proctorial Board' to which shall be confided the duty of enforcing the observance of order on the part of the Undergraduates of the University" (1858 Calendar).
The final meeting was held on 22 December 1885, when it was amalgamated with the Board of Studies to form the new Professorial Board (see below).
Amalgamation of Board of Studies and the Proctorial Board into the Professorial Board, 1886
In May 1886, Senate adopted amended by-laws to amalgamate the two Boards - the Board of Studies and the Proctorial Board - under the name of the Professorial Board.
The amended By-law, approved by Senate, provided that:
- "The Professors in the four Faculties, with the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, shall form a Board, to be called 'The Professorial Board', the duties of which shall be to consider and report to the Senate upon all matters respecting the studies and examinations of the students, and the conferring of Degrees in the several Faculties - the studies, examinations, and degrees, in the Faculty of Medicine excepted - with power to establish Rules, subject to the approval of the Senate, for maintaining order and discipline among the students, and securing their due attendance at Lectures. For the breach of any such Rule, or misconduct of any kind by a student, the Board may inflict such punishment as is sanctioned by Academic usage, including a fine not exceeding Five Pounds, or such other punishment as those Rules shall have prescribed. Provided that no student shall be expelled, or suspended for more than a month, unless the order in that behalf be confirmed by the Senate". (By-law 27)
The Professorial Board met for the first time on 13 May 1886.
Changes to the Professorial Board, to 1975
The powers of the Professorial Board were further extended to consider the by-laws and recommend any amendments to the Senate, the mechanism for appeals was established and the exclusion of the Faculty of Medicine dropped, the Chairman being elected by ballot at the first meeting of the year and holding office for that year. (1893 Calendar)
The Chairman's term of office was later increased to three years. (1902 Calendar)
With the University's growth and subsequent changes in administrative structure, the Professorial Board was extended to include "the Professors and Associate Professors in the several Faculties, with the Chancellor, the Deputy Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, and the Registrar". (1926 Calendar)
The Chairman's term of office was subsequently reduced to two years. (1931 Calendar)
By 1939 the Professorial Board consisted of the Professors and Associate Professors in the several faculties, with the Chancellor and, in his default, the Deputy Chancellor and the Registrar being ex-officio members. The Professorial Board was to "consider and report upon all matters referred to it by the Senate or by the Vice-Chancellor" and was "specially charged with the duty of furthering and co-ordinating the work of the Faculties and Departments, and of encouraging scholarship and research." It was also allowed to "submit recommendations to the Senate with respect to the selection of professors, lecturers and assistant lecturers". Minor amendments later saw the Professorial Board composed simply of "the Professors in the several Faculties" and gave it the right to submit recommendations to the Senate "with respect to any other matters" as well. (1952 Calendar)
The Professorial Board began to hold its meetings in the newly converted Professorial Board Room in 1965.
Further amendments saw the "Librarian, the Director of the Department of Adult Education and the Dean of any Faculty who is not a Professor" included as members of the Professorial Board, and those sections of the by-law relating to disciplinary action repealed. (1971 Calendar)
1975 Replacement of the Professorial Board by the Academic Board
On 18 June 1975, the Professorial Board was replaced by an enlarged Academic Board, a change aimed at opening up the senior academic deliberative body both to the non-professorial level of academic staff and to students as it included substantial representation from non-professorial staff and students. It also provided the opportunity for academic staff other than professors to become deans of faculties and heads of department. It began with a membership of 215 which rose, by 1980, to 249. The first Chairman was Professor J M Ward. The Academic Board gave departments recognised status, prescribed functions and required them to hold regular meetings and to consult with students.
1989 Review of the Academic Board
The Academic Board was reviewed in July 1989, and the title of Chairman changed to Chair in 1992.
1995 Review of the Academic Board
A second review of the Academic Board was carried out in 1995, with a Report of the Committee of Review, dated July 1995, submitted to Senate in October 1995.
The report proposed that the Board of nearly 400 members be replaced by a two-tiered structure:
- an Academic Forum of nearly 400 members
- an Academic Board of 61 members
The Board would be supported by 6 committees instead of 12: Undergraduate Studies, Graduate Studies, Teaching and Learning, Research Policy, Library and Information, and Academic Staffing.
Senate adopted the report on 3 October 1995 and established an implementation team to oversee the transition to the new Board so that it could begin to operate as early as possible in 1996.
However, the new Board could not officially exist under new Rules relating to the Academic Board and the Academic Forum until an amendment to Chapter 8 (Academic Governance) of the Bylaws was enacted.
The ‘University of Sydney Amendment (Academic Governance) By-law (No.2) 1996’ amended Chapter 8 of the By-laws, with effect from 1 August 1996 - reconstitutng the Academic Board and providing for the Senate to make rules regarding the Board, and establishing an Academic Forum and providing for the Senate to make rules regarding the Forum.
On 5 August 1996, the Senate approved the 'Rules relating to the Academic Board, 1996’ and ‘Rules relating to the Academic Forum, 1996’ which came into effect on 8 August 1996.
The final meeting of the old Academic Board was held on 28 October 1996, with the new Board meeting in November 1996.
2001 Review of the Academic Board & Academic Forum
A Review of the Academic Board and the Academic Forum by a Review Panel commenced on 4 June 2001.
The Final Report to Senate of the Review of the Academic Board and the Academic Forum was considered by Senate at its March 2002 colloquium. Senate endorsed the report but referred some issues to the Academic Board for further consideration.
The main changes were:
- disestablishment of the Academic Forum
- restructuring of the Academic Board
- adoption of revised terms of reference for the Academic Board, with the following principle: That, subject to the governing authority and powers of the Senate and to the powers of the Vice-Chancellor, the Academic Board has principal responsibility to (a) develop and maintain the highest standards in teaching, scholarship and research safeguarding the academic freedom of the University; (b) oversee and monitor the development of all academic activities of the University; and (c) communicate with the academic community through the faculties, colleges and boards of studies and similar organisational units.
- amendment of the University of Sydney By-law 1999, which came into effect on 23 May 2003; repeal of the Academic Board and Academic Forum Rules; and adoption of the new University of Sydney (Academic Governance) Rule 2003
2004 Self-review of the Academic Board
Following on from the 2001 Review, a new Academic Board commenced in 2004 with an expanded membership and increased member participation.
2009 Self-review of Academic Board
The Academic Board undertook a review of its membership and committee structure in 2009 following discussions between the Chair of the Academic Board and the Vice-Chancellor.
A major reorganisation of the Board’s Committees occurred, with the existing five committees reduced to three, as follows:
- the Graduate Studies Committee
- the Undergraduate Studies Committee
- the new Academic Standards and Policy Committee
The Academic Staffing Committee was transferred to the Senior Executive Group; the Learning and Teaching Committee was abolished; and the Research and Research Training Committee was abolished with research training matters referred to the Graduate Studies Committee and research matters referred to the Academic Standards and Policy Committee.
2011 Self-review of Academic Board
In 2011 the membership structure of the Academic Board's standing committees was reviewed and amended, and the Admissions Sub-Committee became a standing committee reporting directly to the Board, with effect from 2012.
The current provisions appear in the University of Sydney (Academic Governance) Rule 2003, as follows:
- Terms of reference: Section 4
- Constitution: Section 5
- Terms of office: Section 6
- Chair: Section 7
- Deputy Chair: Section 8