Committee Information: Membership, Responsibilities and Managing Meetings

Responsibilities of Committee Chairs

    1. Establishing Norms: Culture and Process
    2. Establish Agenda 
    3. Request permissions from VPI and IT Dept. to post committee agendas & updates in COCC Headlines folder in Outlook. 
    4. Maintain Website and/or N-Drive
        1. Post minutes/Agendas
        2. Post Materials for deliberations
        3. Post decisions
    5. Facilitate Work: Monitor Meetings
    6. Collaboration with Note taker
    7. Communication with other committee chairs and the college campus
    8. Committee End of Year Report: All committee chair’s (or designee) will submit an end of the year status report to the Shared Governance Work Group which includes key recommendations, accomplishments, challenges opportunities and needs.  See Appendix B for a template. The SGWG will be looking into a public “storage” place for these final reports: we are hoping the future Intranet will provide that location. We might also post them on our public-facing website. In the meantime, reports will be stored in our N-Drive.

Responsibilities of Committee Members

Shared or participatory decision-making is a method of collegial interaction in which faculty, administration, staff, and students participate in the decision-making process and in which recommendations are made to the college President or, if the recommending body is a sub-committee, workgroup or task force, to its oversight committee. Through active participation and collegial interaction by all members, mutual agreement is the goal.  Committee members are selected to represent some constituency or because they have some particular expertise or responsibility in an area. Members have the responsibility of keeping their respective groups informed of the proceedings and recommendations of the particular policy committee, advisory committee, work group or task force.

Being a committee member is about much more than simply attending meetings, although that is one of a committee member’s tasks. It is an active not a passive role. Members should be aware of what the committee is authorized to do, and to work with the other members of the committee to reach a consensus, so enabling business to be completed, or to move on through the committee structure.

Members should also:

    • Prepare for the meeting by reading the agenda, the previous meeting’s minutes, and thinking about points that need to be raised, clarified or discussed.
    • Discuss any matters that need decisions with the appropriate individuals and constituencies prior to the meeting.
    • Contribute to discussion.
    • Report back to their constituencies.
    • Carry out any follow-up action required of them.

Responsibilities of Committee Note Takers 

Policy committees and some administrative committees are fortunate to have a designated administrative assistant to assist the chair and take, post and archive minutes. However, most committees, work groups and task forces have a less formal note taking system.  The advice in sections 7 and 8 is thus more focused on Policy committees; however, all committees could modify these ideas to suit their particular needs and purposes.

The committee minutes are to be inclusive but not exhaustive.  

Attendance must be listed. Minutes must include the wording of all motions, the names of the members who made and seconded the motions and the list of who voted for the motion, against it, or abstained, along with the total vote, and whether the motion passed or was rejected.   The minutes must include the major points of discussion even if no motions were made. However, transcription-type minutes are not expected.   Persons who are going to report on old or new business will be requested to have a written report at the meeting and electronically available to the note-taker by the end of the meeting. The minutes taken at the meeting would reflect additional points that were discussed at the meeting.   

Importance of Agendas, Minutes, Communication, Task Calendars, and Storage of Information Items

Agendas allow committee members to prepare for the meeting topics in advance.  The following guidelines are particularly pertinent to policy committees although all committees could benefit from following them:

  • Agenda items are due to the Committee chair and note taker one week before each meeting, although due to the heavy workload of some committees, a proposal may not get on an agenda for several weeks.
  • Agendas should be sent to committee members at least three days before a meeting.
  • Agendas should also be posted to Commlines if relevant to the College community (this is particularly true of policy committee agendas).
  • See Appendix C for a suggested template for agendas (also used for note taking)
  • Minutes are the official record of governance.  There will be draft minutes and approved minutes posted on the website matrix by appropriate dates.

Because of the wide-reaching impact of their recommendations, policy committees should have a note-taker that is trained in the college’s Web Content Management System (WCMS—currently, Ektron) to perform these tasks and others outlined in the Webpage Guidelines Section. WCMS access and assistance is provided by the Web Coordinator so that all minutes can be posted with documentation links to the COCC website.

Modified Parliamentary Procedure

Setting Agendas

The chair of the committee sets the agenda and shares the agenda with committee members (and, for policy committees, with the College community) before the scheduled meeting.  Each committee can determine how much lead time is needed for posting agendas; however, for policy committees, agenda should be posted at least three days before the meeting. 

Filtering Items: Chairs are encouraged to filter through proposals and assure that proposals are appropriate for their committee and that include a completed Proposal Presentation form. 

Any open item should be placed and maintained on an agenda and addressed at the meeting until a motion of action moves the item along.

What is the focus of the group?

Some groups (committees, task forces, etc.) have the responsibility of making recommendations, while other groups create campus policy or procedure. Both roles are invaluable to the overall shared governance process; however, it is essential that each group understands their role and that chairs focus their directions toward that end.

For example, Academic Affairs is a decision-making committee that recommends new or revised policy and/or procedures to the President for approval. It is rare that a policy or procedure is created solely within Academic Affairs, for example. Often, potential policies or procedures are presented by others, or a task force created by AA itself, and AA deliberates from the perspective of instruction and academic policy and procedures.

The Sustainability Committee (SC), on the other hand, develops policies and procedures pertinent to the practice of sustainability on campus. Outside groups may approach SC with ideas, but any policies and procedures aimed at improving the college practice of sustainability are likely to be formed, forged, and presented by SC.

While both types of groups have fundamental differences in their work, much of how they do business is similar and should follow similar guidelines.

This section provides guidelines for all committees to conduct business in their meetings. Robert’s Rules are guidelines that are meant to streamline committee work allowing them to work efficiently. All committees should determine as a group how they will use Robert’s Rules, which can be particularly effective for policy committees (and perhaps less useful for Work Groups).

Modified Robert’s Rules 


A quorum is the majority of voting members. In any instance where the group needs to vote on a recommendation, there must be a majority of voting members present in order to proceed.  


“A motion is a proposal that the assembly take certain action, or that it expresses itself as holding certain views” (Robert’s Rules Online). For the sake of simplicity and sanity, there is little need for a multitude of motions amongst the committees of COCC. Policy committees at COCC proceed with items of policy and procedure as recommendations to the President. A purpose of the policy committees is to thoroughly vet items and serve the President with proposals that are deemed worthy of approval. 

Following are a list of motions that groups should routinely use to maintain order and organization. Members of the committee should make motions, while chairs should avoid directly motioning items.

  • Motion to Accept (Approval): this would move an item to its next logical step (approve a 1st reading, proceed to vetting then to a 2nd reading - see below). It is advisable to present a motion to accept when deliberations appear to be winding down. Motions of Acceptance go through 2 stages: 1st Reading and (if approved) a 2nd reading, before leaving the committee onto an appropriate pathway.
  • First vs. Second Readings: The intent of this 2-stage approval process is to allow for thorough review of the item by the committee and to accept input from various constituencies. The First Reading is simply an acceptance by the committee to move an item through a vetting process and accept outside input. It is vital to this process that items approved for first reading are displayed for review by the public and vital constituents. A Second reading serves as the committee’s final review of a proposal. Approved Second readings move the item towards further approval (in the case of policy committees) and/or implementation. Committees may rescind or table items at second reading.
  • Motion to Rescind (Repeal or Reject and effectively remove from the agenda):  This motion reverses a previous approval and remove an item from a committee's agenda. Committees have a responsibility to maintain an item that has been presented for approval and must act to remove from any further consideration. Committees may only consider items on their agenda. Items that have moved past the current agenda may not be moved to rescind.
  • Motion to table (defer for further discussion/deliberation):  halt approval process for purpose of further deliberation, discussion, and revision.
  • Motion to Adjourn: to end a meeting and designate that no further business will be conducted.
  • Incomplete Motions:  the default action should be a tabled motion; that is to say a motion that does not receive the necessary votes to move forward remains tabled until one of the above motions are completed.


  • Yeas vs. Nays: simple majority of the present quorum wins a motion. There will be instances where a motion is passed despite being a minority of an entire voting membership.
  • Abstentions: an ideal action for anyone: 1) who has an obvious conflict; 2) any voting member who feels inadequately prepared to vote; an abstention effectively counts as no vote, but is recorded as an abstention. Committee members should have obvious reasons to not cast a vote when present.


Here is a scenario to illustrate the above:

    • A committee of 9 needs 5 voting members present in order to conduct business
    • In a situation where 6 members are present, a vote of 4 members supports a motion;
    • A motion is made by a member; 3 votes approve, 1 vote against, and 2 abstains = no approval