Texas Tech University

Student Organization's Minutes & Record Keeping

Criteria for the Secretary/ Historian

  • Reliable
  • Good listener
  • Well organized
  • Objective
  • Informed of organization events and history

Responsibilities--More than taking minutes

Be an Organization Historian

All information a secretary records will be referred to by current members as a reminder of finished and unfinished business, what needs to be followed-up on and what actions were taken. Records will also be kept for future members to read to gain an understanding of where the organization has been and why.

Inform Members of Meetings

Many organizations make it the secretary's responsibility to notify the membership about upcoming meetings as well as any important items to be discussed.

Be present at all meetings

If secretary cannot be present, a responsible substitute should be chosen.

Be prepared for each meeting

Secretaries should read the minutes of previous meetings, paying attention to style and format and review the agenda and any attached documents. If the organization has agreed upon a standard format for minutes, he/she can use a standardized form and fill in discussions as they occur.

Record Committee Actions

Committee motions and resolutions need to be recorded accurately but not necessarily verbatim.

How to Take Minutes

There are several ways to take meeting minutes, and each organization needs to choose the most appropriate method for them. A practical option is to record a summary of debates, agreements and disagreements with a succinct explanation of the character of each. The second method is to take action minutes when decisions are reached and responsibilities are assigned.

Regardless of the method, minutes should include the following things:

  • Type of meeting (executive, standing committee, general, etc.)
  • Date, time and place
  • List of attendees and those absent.
  • Time of call to order
  • Approval and/or amendments to previous meeting minutes
  • Record of reports from standing and special committees
  • Record of proposals, resolutions, motions, seconding, final disposition, and summary of the discussions, also record any vote
  • Time of adjournment
  • Nomination of submission and transcriber's name
  • Names of people proposing any action, stating an option or making a motion
  • Motions, resolutions, amendments, decisions or conclusions
  • What assignments were made to whom with deadlines

Suggestions for Taking Minutes

It is often helpful for both minute-taking and for those attending the meeting if the chair or the secretary summarizes decisions that are reached. The summary should carefully clarify points of controversy.

It is the secretary's responsibility to signal the president/chair and ask questions regarding the subject being discussed if he/she becomes lost or unsure. A secretary should not wait until the meeting has been adjourned to get clarification; individuals can lose their perspective, issues can become less important and one's memory can alter what actually occurred. Immediately after the meeting, the secretary must go over the notes while everything is still fresh.

Once the minutes have been transcribed into draft form, they should be submitted for review and corrections. Once returned, the minutes should be prepared formally for final approval at the next meeting. These minutes should be sent out to all members within 3 or 4 days of the meeting. The minutes should also contain the information about the next meeting.

Sample Meeting Agenda

I. Call to order - The chairperson says, "The meeting will please come to order."
II. Roll Call - Members say "present" as their name is called by the secretary.
III. Minutes - The secretary reads a record of the last meeting.
IV. Officers' Reports - Officers give a report to the group when called on, usually limited to a time if necessary.
V. Committee Reports - First come reports from "standing" committees or permanent committees, then "ad hoc" or special committees.
VI. Special Reports - Important business previously designated for consideration at this meeting.
VII. Old Business - Items left over from previous meetings.
VIII. New Business - Introduction of new topics.
IX. Announcements - Informing the assembly of other subjects and events.
X. Adjournment - The meeting ends by a vote or general consent.

Adapted from Advising Your Hall Governing Board, Kansas State University, Department of Housing and Dining, 2003