In 1963, the Senate of Scientists was established to represent professional concerns of the scientific research staff of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Modeled 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 senate is managed by a council consisting 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 other government agencies.
Significant issues addressed by the senate have included library service, parking policies, off-mall storage and curatorial facilities, technical assistance, automated data-processing facilities, funding for systematics research, and publications policies. In addition, the senate has served as a stimulus to collegiality within the museum, through its publications, seminars, teas, and dinner forums.
Chairmen of the Senate of Scientists have include Gordon D. Gibson, 1963-1964; Richard S. Boardman, 1964-1965, 1978-1979; W. Donald Duckworth, 1965-1966; Roy S. Clarke, Jr., 1966-1967; Francis M. Hueber, 1967-1968; Clifford Evans, Jr., 1968-1970; Martin A. Buzas, 1970-1971; Clyde F. E. Roper, 1971-1972; Thomas R. Waller, 1972-1973; W. Duane Hope, 1973-1974; Erle G. Kauffman, 1974-1975; Donald J. Ortner, 1975-1976; Richard H. Eyde, 1976-1977; Meredith L. Jones, 1977-1978; Jack W. Pierce, 1979-1980; Herman J. Viola, 1980-1981; W. Ronald Heyer, 1981-1982; David L. Pawson, 1982-1983; William G. Melson, 1983-1984; Richard W. Thorington, Jr., 1984-1985; George R. Zug, 1985-1986; and Raymond B. Manning, 1986-1987.