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University Senate

The University Senate is an elected body of peer professionals in higher education created by the General Conference, designed to work with United Methodist educational institutions. Senators provide consultative support to member schools, colleges, universities and theological institutions, and conduct periodic peer reviews to determine which of these meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.

Since 1892, the senate has served the educational institutions of the denomination. The senate was established to ensure that United Methodist educational institutions provide high quality programs. The University Senate was established before any regional accreditor emerged and, in 2017, marked its 125th anniversary. 

Read more on the University Senate’s 125 years of history.

Senate Purposes and Objectives:

  • To establish the criteria that must be met by schools, colleges, universities and theological schools to achieve and retain listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.
  • To support the development of institutions whose aims are to address and whose programs reflect significant educational, cultural, social and human issues in a manner reflecting the values held in common by the institutions and the church.
  • To provide an effective review process to ensure that schools, colleges, universities and theological schools listed by the University Senate and qualifying for church support have institutional integrity, well-structured programs, sound management and clearly defined church relationships.
  • To establish effective annual reporting procedures that will provide the senate with the data necessary to complete its review of the institutional viability and program integrity of member institutions.

Approval by the senate is prerequisite to any institutional claim of affiliation with The United Methodist Church.

Only institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church through approval by the senate shall be eligible for funding by annual conferences, General Conference, general boards or other agencies of The United Methodist Church.

To qualify for affiliation with The United Methodist Church, institutions must maintain appropriate academic accreditation.

Assessment of church relationships shall be a part of the process for those institutions seeking approval for affiliation with The United Methodist Church. Inasmuch as declarations of church relationships are expected to differ one from the other, and because of the diversity in heritage and other aspects of institutional life, declarations of church relationship will necessarily be of institutional design.

Senate Election Process

The senate is composed of 27 voting members who, at the time of election, are actively engaged in the work of education through employment in an educational institution and are fitted by training and experience for the technical work of evaluating educational institutions. Election is for the quadrennium, except in cases where conflict of interest arises as a result of change in employment. From the United Methodist Book of Discipline 2016:

Nine of these members shall be elected quadrennially by the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church—seven of whom shall be chief executive officers of United Methodist-related educational institutions, the other two holding other positions relevant to academic or financial affairs or Church relationships;

six by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry—two of whom shall be chief executive officers of United Methodist-related higher educational institutions, two holding other positions relevant to academic or financial affairs or Church relationships; and two holding positions relevant to Church relationships.

four by the General Conference—two of whom shall be chief executive officers of United Methodist-related educational institutions at the time of their election, the other two holding other positions relevant to academic or financial affairs or Church relationships;

four by the senate itself, without limitation;

four shall be appointed by the Council of Bishops—two of whom shall be chief executive officers of United Methodist-related educational institutions, the other two holding other positions relevant to academic or financial affairs or Church relationships.

Each of the five electing bodies shall elect at least one woman.

The general secretary of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the associate general secretaries of the Divisions of Higher Education and Ordained Ministry (Section of Elders and Local Pastors and Section of Deacons and Diaconal Ministers) of that board shall serve as ex officio members of the senate, with voice but without vote. There shall be one staff representative on the senate from the General Board of Global Ministries, with voice but without vote, named by the general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries.

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Find a School

Find a United Methodist-related college or university to begin your journey and to discover, claim and flourish in your leadership calling.

Publishing

GBHEM publishes books to serve church leaders throughout their intellectual journey. Learn more about these resources in our publications catalog.

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GBHEM works with the International Association of Methodist-related Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU) to increase educational opportunities across the globe.

In the U.S., GBHEM partners with the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) to expand access to higher education.

Student discussion

Learn about grant funding offered for theological education and pastoral formation in all the Central Conferences in Africa, Europe and the Philippines.