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Governance Structure at York University

York University was established with the proclamation by the Queen in Right of the Province of Ontario of the York University Act on March 26, 1959. The York Act was amended in 1965 and it is under the 1965 legislation that the University, as we now know it, is constituted.

York University is a not-for-profit charitable corporation, with an autonomous governance system. Notwithstanding its legal autonomy, it is publicly assisted by grants from the Ontario government and elsewhere and is responsible for reporting on a number of matters pertaining to its operation to both provincial and federal governments.

The system of governance established by the York University Act is bicameral, with two governing bodies: the Board of Governors and the Senate. The power to act on the university’s behalf is divided among the Chancellor, the Board, the Senate and the President (who is also the Vice-Chancellor). But for the powers specifically given to Senate over academic policy, and to the President over student conduct and other matters, the government, conduct, management and control of the University and of its property, revenues, expenditures, business and affairs is vested in the Board by the York Act.

The Chancellor is the titular head of the University and has the power to confer all degrees.

Notwithstanding the independent powers given to the Chancellor, Board, Senate and President, the York University Act provides for interdependence by requiring consultation and approval among the governing bodies, the Chancellor and the President in a number of areas. Below is a chart outlining the powers of the constituent elements under the Act.

The composition of both the Board of Governors and the Senate is established by the York University Act. The Board consists of the Chancellor, the President and up to thirty (30) other persons. The by-laws of the Board specify how the governors are appointed. The Senate is composed of ex officio members specified by the Act, as well as other elected and appointed members determined by Senate regulation. It is a legislative requirement that full-time members of the teaching staff must always constitute a majority of the members of Senate. There are places for two members of the Senate on the Board and for up to seven members of the Board on Senate (including the Chancellor, the President and the Chair of the Board, all of whom sit ex officio on the Senate). The Board of Governors conducts its business through committees that bring recommendations to the full Board at regularly-scheduled meetings. The Senate also conducts much of its business through a network of committees that bring business to the full Senate, through its Executive Committee. Synopses of the business transacted by both the Board and the Senate are published on Y-File.