Good practice in committee servicing
As Head of Administration, you will be responsible for supporting your departmental management committee and you may also have responsibility for supporting other departmental committees. As a minimum, this will mean preparing the agenda in consultation with the Chair; preparing and collating papers; circulating these to members; and writing minutes. You will also be required to brief the Chair ahead of meetings, speak to items on the agenda and respond to questions or issues that are raised.
Some tips on committee servicing are below:
1. Circulate the agenda a week in advance
This can be electronic only, though some academic colleagues may prefer paper copies. Ideally, you should use a secure system (e.g. SharePoint) for circulating papers, many of which may contain confidential or sensitive information. Try to avoid tabling late papers on the day.
Student members should not receive ‘reserved’ papers (these are papers which identify individual members of staff or students to the committee).
Combine the papers into one pdf (pdf converter tools are available) and number each page for ease of reference.
Ideally, you should make it clear on the agenda which items are for information only, which require a decision, and which are for discussion.
It is helpful to number your papers using a two-digit letter reference for the committee and a two-digit number reference for the year, e.g. (for Divisional Board) SSD(17)01.
2. Meeting protocol
Template Conflict of Interest and Public Sector Equality Duty papers are circulated to HoAs at the start of each academic year. Any conflict of interest should be declared at the appropriate agenda item and the person concerned should leave the room during discussion of that item. In addition, you should consider the potential impact on equality of any proposals under discussion.
3. Taking minutes
All minutes should start with a record of those present and any apologies. On each occasion, the committee should also formally approve the minutes of the previous meeting.
Practice may vary on highlighting within the minutes any decisions taken or items for future action (and by whom) – consider what is most effective for you department and committee.
Try to draft the minutes for the Chair’s approval within a week of the committee. If there are items for action by members of the committee, you should circulate it to all members as soon as possible thereafter, identifying these action points. If there are no items for action, you may prefer to wait until circulating the papers for the next meeting to share the minutes.
4. Retention of records
There are retention schedules for certain records in particular under the Data Protection Act, including for staff and student data, and financial records. The University produces guidance on data protection.
Beyond this, and with regard to now outdated governance material, your department should keep securely the material it needs for operational purposes. If your department is clear that it does not need the materials again, you should consult with Simon Bailey, the Keeper of the Archives as to whether he wishes to retain any of the records for permanent preservation in the University Archives (in which case, he will arrange with the department for its transfer). If the materials are not to be acquired by the Archives, and the department wishes to dispose of them, the records in question should be destroyed securely, i.e. shredded and disposed of with the confidential waste.