The Faculty Senate (Bylaws, Article 13) consists of one elected Senator from each academic department at NIU except those having more than 50 faculty members which shall elect two Senators. Additionally the faculty members elected to the University Council shall be voting members as well as one Senator from the College of Law and the University Libraries. Non-voting members include a member of the Supportive Professional Staff, members of faculty members of the University Advisory Committee to the Board of Trustees, and the faculty serving as assistant chairs of the Academic Planning Council, the Graduate Council and the Undergraduate Coordinating Committee.
The University Constitution and Bylaws stipulates that governance is a shared process with faculty predominance in all policy decisions involving curriculum, admission, academic standards and the faculty personnel process. Further, the Faculty Senate is charged with promoting a climate of academic freedom, maintaining an optimal learning environment, promoting artistry and research, representing faculty concerns to the administration, defining standards of faculty ethics and professional responsibilities, and maintaining those faculty governance roles stipulated in the NIU Constitution and Bylaws.
The senate has six standing committees whose duties include investigating issues and forwarding proposals, documents, and issues to the full senate for its consideration and recommendations which are then forwarded to the appropriate university officer. These committees are: Academic Affairs Committee; Committee on the Economic Status of the Profession; Elections and Legislative Oversight Committee; Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee; the joint FS/UC Committee on Resources, Space, and Budget; and Rules and Governance Committee. The chairs of these committees and the president of the senate form the Executive Committee which establishes agendas and acts on behalf of the senate in certain circumstances when the senate is unable to gather.