Record Unit 9508, National Museum of Natural History, Senate of Scientists, Senate of Scientists Interviews, 1975
In 1963, a Senate of Scientists was formed to represent professional concerns of the scientific research staff of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) at the Smithsonian Institution. Molded on faculty senates in universities, the senate was structured to function as a trouble-shooter and source of collective opinion outside normal administrative channels. The executive arm of the senate is the council which manages the day-to-day activities and consists of a chairman, chairman-elect, secretary, and one councilor elected by each curatorial department. Full membership in the senate is restricted to scientists employed by the NMNH, but associate membership is extended to research associates of the museum and to scientists located in the museum but employed by related agencies, such as the United States Department of Agriculture and United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
When an issue arises that the senate deems is in need of attention, membership is polled for opinions, and the council forwards a report and/or recommendation to the appropriate administrator. Significant issues addressed by the senate include library service, publication policies, off-Mall storage and curatorial facilities, technical assistance, program offices, automated data processing facilities, and funding for systematics research. The senate has fostered lines of communication between Institution administrators and the non-administrative scientific staff. In addition, the senate has served as a stimulus to collegiality within the museum, through its "field guide to curators," seminars, teas, and dinner forums.
Restricted. Contact SIHistory@si.edu, 202-633-5910 for details.