The University Senate was established in 1912 and consisted only of faculty members until 1969, when students were given representation. In 2004, the University Senate was expanded again, when professional and academic staff and civil service staff were granted representation. The University Senate now has representatives from faculty (168, including the president), students (60), and civil service staff (25), and professional and administrative (P&A) staff (25), for a total of 278 members when all seats are filled.

Today, the University Senate governance system encompasses five senates: