University Council is the apex of the university governance structure, and all university commissions report directly to it.
The council evolved from the Council of Administration, which was created in the 1920-21 session “to assist the president of the institution in administrative matters, chiefly concerning students.” As the scope of the council broadened to include academic matters, it became known as the Academic Council.
The council changed its name to University Council in fall 1966 and added two students—the president of the Student Government Association and a graduate student—to its voting membership for the first time in fall 1969. Two additional students— the vice president of the Student Government Association and a Graduate Assembly alternate—were added in a non-voting capacity in the fall 1971.
In 1973 the board of visitors approved proposed amendments to the constitution to add one classified employee, an additional voting student member to the two already seated, and three additional non-voting student members—junior class president, SGA vice president, and graduate student—to University Council.
In 1991, the council approved the report of the Task Force on Council, Commissions, and Committees, which increased the number of commissions reporting and sending representatives to the council to eight, among them a new Commission on Classified Staff Affairs, and added two chairs on the council to represent the African-American community, one elected by the Black Faculty and Staff Caucus and one by the Black Organizations Council.
Throughout the years since, membership has been updated periodically to reflect new officials or new governance organizations. For example, in 2002, a Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity was incorporated.
In 2005, the council’s constitution was amended so that membership would automatically reflect the addition or removal of ex officio members as the university’s organizational structure changes.