Sustainable Agriculture Institute
Working Committee One (WC-1)
Terms of Reference
Part I: Mandate and Responsibilities
The mandate of the Finance Committee is to ensure that the e-campus Education Financial Management is designed, managed, evaluated and revised in a coherent and coordinated fashion, consistent with accreditation and current educational standards.
The committee has authority for oversight of all Financial aspects. This encompasses the following general areas of responsibility:
- Developing and implementing financial policies. Policies are recommended to the Chancellor for approval and dissemination;
- Overseeing Financial Control Implementation and ongoing Financial Management. Managing the ongoing evaluation and revision of the financial control process;
- Ensuring compliance with accreditation standards. The Finance Committee has primary responsibility for all financial reporting requirements;
- Providing content material for accreditation reports as evidence to support compliance with the above financial reporting requirements. Support the preparation of the annual Financial Information of the Annual Report:
- Annually review the appropriateness of the Financial Control Procedures and modify as required;
- Annually review the Financial Control Reporting Process to facilitate and simplify reporting across jurisdictions;
- Ensure a liaison with regional finance groups to harmonize where possible regional and national reporting requirements;
- Provide expert advice and support to the Board of Governors for questions arising from the validation and consolidation of submitted data;
- Ensure a liaison with report users so as to understand their needs and determine how best to meet them;
- Oversee the quality of report publications and ensure a broad distribution of the information;
- Encourage harmonization, clarity, and simplicity of financial management and reporting requirements of government and other bodies, thereby facilitating compliance and reducing the administrative burden on institutions;
- Monitor and comment on areas of emerging development and need in financial management of Institutes (e.g. debt management, budgeting, and planning techniques, e-payments etc).
The Finance Committee functions under the authority of the Chancellor, which reviews, approves, and disseminates policies and procedures relevant to the overall program.
- Development of Policy: The Finance Committee develops policies that direct the Finance and recommends them to the Chancellor for review and approval. Such policies include those supporting financial control, financial reporting, and financials for the Annual Report.
- Establishment of Finacial Goals. The Finance Committee is responsible for the establishment and continuing review of overall financial goals, the financial goals are listed in the Annual Report.
- Design and Content of Financial Controls. The Finance Committee is responsible for the design and structure of the Finance so that it meets the established Financial Goals and so that it allows for the appropriate coordination of reporting requirements.
- Managing the Ongoing Evaluation and Revision of the Financial Control Procedures: The Finance Committee reviews the Finances as a whole.
- Financial Administration. The Finance Committee is responsible for establishing an appropriate Financial and administrative leadership structure to ensure that all financial goals are met.
Part II: Leadership & Membership
The Finance Committee is chaired by the Chancellor.
Where the Chair is absent for any reason, an Acting Chair may be appointed by the Chair, or in the absence of such an appointment, by the committee members present.
Only voting members may serve as Acting Chair. The Chair, or Acting Chair, will only vote in order to break a tie.
- Committee Chairman (Chancellor)
- Committee Secretary (Assistant to the Chancellor)
- Director of Faculties & Institutes
- Director of Institute Administrative Service
- Dean of Institute
- Institute Accountants
The Chair may invite such guests as are necessary to conduct the meeting.
All new members will receive these Terms of Reference and will be oriented to the position by the Chair.
Responsibilities of Members
All members will participate actively in the committee by:
- Reviewing all pre-circulated material
- Attending at least 70% of the meetings
- Participating in working groups, as required
- Communicating committee activities and decisions as appropriate
Term of Membership
Appointed members will normally serve a three-year term, renewable once.
Part III: Meeting Procedures
Frequency and Duration of Meetings
Meetings will be held biweekly during the academic year and otherwise at the call of the Chair.
A quorum for the purpose of approving minutes or passing motions will be 50% plus one of all voting members, either present in person or via teleconference.
Meetings may be held in the absence of a quorum, but no decisions will be made.
Conflict of Interest
Members are expected to declare a conflict of interest if their real or perceived personal interests might be seen to influence their ability to assess any matter before the committee objectively. They can do so either by personal declaration at a meeting or in writing to the Chair. They will be excused from any discussions regarding the matter in question. The declaration and absences will be recorded in the minutes.
Decisions that establish program policy changes or directions to subcommittees or faculty members will be discussed in the context of specific motions, passed by a majority vote of members and recorded in the minutes. The Chair will aim to build consensus, if possible (see Appendix A), but the final decision will be made by voting. Votes may be conducted electronically, if necessary.
Part IV: Administrative Support & Communication
The Secretary will be the assistant to the Chancellor.
Agenda & Minutes
- Agenda and minutes of committee meetings are to be distributed to the committee members by the recording secretary.
- Minutes are normally distributed electronically to all members within one week of meetings.
- Minutes will be uploaded to the committee’s Web site.
The Finance Committee reports to the Chancellor, which reports to the Board of Governors.
The Finance Committee will produce an annual report of its activities to be submitted to the Board of Governors. That report will be written by the Chair and reviewed and approved by the committee before dissemination.
Recommendations for changes in policies and practices should initially be reviewed and approved by the Chancellor and then submitted to the Board of Governors for final approval.
Part V: Evaluation
These terms of reference will be reviewed by the Finance Committee on an annual basis and as required.
Part VI: Policy References
The policies are posted on the Institute’s website.
Part VII: Consensus-Based Decision Making
Rules for Building a Consensus
A consensus requires that everyone involved in the decision must agree on the individual points discussed before they become part of the decision. Not every point will meet with everyone’s complete approval. Unanimity is not the goal, although it may be reached unintentionally. It is not necessary that everyone is satisfied, but everyone’s ideas should be reviewed thoroughly. The goal is for individuals to understand the relevant data, and if need be, accept the logic of differing points of view.
The following rules are helpful in reaching a consensus:
- Avoid arguing over individual ranking or position. Present a position as lucidly as possible, but consider seriously what the other group members are presenting.
- Avoid “win-lose” stalemates. Discard the notion that someone must win and, therefore, someone else must lose. When an impasse occurs, look for the next most acceptable alternative for both parties.
- Avoid trying to change minds only in order to avoid conflict and achieve harmony.
- Withstand the pressure to yield to views that have no basis in logic or the supporting data.
- Avoid majority voting, averaging, bargaining or coin-flipping. These techniques do not lead to a consensus. Treat differences of opinion as indicative of an incomplete sharing of information — so keep probing.
- Keep the attitude that the holding of different views by group members is both natural and healthy. Diversity is a normal state; a continuous agreement is not.
- View initial agreement as a suspect. Explore the reasons underlying apparent agreement on a decision and make sure that all members understand the implication of the decision and support it willingly.