Bylaws

Article I: PREAMBLE

We, the Faculty of the Virginia Commonwealth University, having been duly appointed by the Board of Visitors, and believing that the purposes and objectives of any university can best be met through the combined effort and cooperative deliberation of its governing board, its administrators, and its teaching and research faculty, do hereby establish these Bylaws to set forth the governing principles and procedures which will guide the Faculty of VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY in all its deliberations.

Article II: PURPOSE

The purpose of the Faculty shall be the furtherance and dissemination of knowledge and professional skills through teaching, study, research, creativity, exhibition, performance, and provision of community service. An additional objective will be to help insure through investigation, examination, comment and recommendation that the educational goal of the University is being realized by the policies and procedures employed in the University.

Article III: VOTING MEMBERSHIP

The voting membership of the Faculty shall consist of the professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and instructors, who are full-time employees of the University and who hold continuing appointments from the Board of Visitors as teaching and research faculty or administrative or professional faculty in one of the academic schools or who have been granted a continuing “Full-Time Academic Appointment (VAMC)” or a “Full-Time Academic Appointment (Inova)” by the Board of Visitors.

NOTE: For the purposes of this document the College of Humanities and Sciences and VCU Libraries shall be considered “schools.” Schools within the College of Humanities and Sciences shall not be considered “schools.”

Article IV: FACULTY SENATE

Section 1. Purpose of the Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate shall represent the Faculty in areas of its responsibilities and concerns:

a. to help create, maintain and protect a University environment conducive to growth of scholarship, creativity, learning, teaching, research, service and respect for human dignity and rights;

b. to accept and share responsibility with administration and students in an effort to improve the stature and effectiveness of the University;

c. to consider such policies, programs and other matters as the administration, school faculties, student organizations and individual members of the faculty may propose;

d. to develop and propose academic or educational policies which affect the university, the faculty, or students;

e. to express opinions on University affairs as the Faculty Senate deems appropriate and necessary.

Section 2. Composition of the Faculty Senate

a. Members of the Faculty, as defined in Article III, who are not serving in administrative positions at or above the level of Department Chair are eligible to be members of the Senate.

b. There are four categories of Senator:

(i) Elected Senators are elected as specified below in Section 5, and have full debating and voting privileges.

(ii) Senators at Large: In those instances when it is necessary for their continued membership on the Senate, the Corresponding Secretary Elect, the Recording Secretary-Treasurer Elect, the Vice President Elect, the President Elect, the Campus Representatives Elect, and the outgoing President of the Senate shall be Senators at Large with full rights of membership and shall occupy specially created Senate seats for one year.

(iii) Honorary Senators: In addition to the membership identified above, the Executive Committee will, as specified in the Standing Rules, appoint Honorary Faculty Senators, with rights of discussion in Senate proceedings, but with no voting rights.

(iv) Alternate Senators: Alternate Senators are elected as specified below in Section 5. They serve as substitutes, with full debating and voting privileges, for Elected Senators from their school when the latter are unable to attend a meeting.

c. The term “Voting Senator” shall refer to Elected Senators, Senators at Large, and Alternate Senators when they are serving as substitutes.

ection 3. Terms of Office of Faculty Senators

a. Elected Senators shall serve three-year terms beginning on August 16th following their election. Elected Senators who served a full three-year term shall not be eligible to serve again as Elected Senators for one year following the expiration of their term. Such Senators are however, eligible for election as Alternate Senators. Alternate Senators who fill vacated Senate seats as directed in Section 5. b. shall be eligible for immediate re-election.

b. Honorary Senators are appointed annually and are eligible for reappointment without restriction.

c. Alternate Senators shall serve one year terms beginning on August 16th following their election. They are eligible to serve again as Alternate Senators or as Elected Senators following the expiration of their term.

Section 4. Timing of elections

a. School elections of Senators and Alternate Senators shall take place during the spring semester according to the procedures stated in Article IV. Section 5. The election process should be completed during the spring semester, but no later than by August 20th.

b. The Corresponding Secretary of the Senate is responsible for notifying in writing by March 15th the Deans of each school and the University Librarian who are responsible for notifying the leadership of the school’s faculty governance organization of their responsibility for scheduling, conducting and overseeing the election of Senators and Alternate Senators from that school.

Section 5. Method of Elections and Apportionment for Elected Senators

a. Elected Senators: Elected Senators must be voting members of the Faculty as defined in Article III. They shall be apportioned among the schools so that, in so far as possible, each Elected Senator shall represent an equal number of the faculty members eligible for Faculty Senate membership–subject to the constraints that each school be represented by at least two elected Senators and no school shall be represented by a number of Senators that exceeds one third of the total of Elected Senators for the University. Prior to the February Senate meeting, the Credentials and Rules Committee shall adjust annually the number of faculty members represented by a Senator so that the number of Elected Senators does not exceed 62 members.

b. Alternate Senators: Alternate Senators must be voting members of the Faculty as defined in Article III. The number of Alternate Senators to be elected by each school shall be based on the number of Elected Senators apportioned to the school, as follows:

–two alternates if the number of Elected Senators is eight or fewer;

–three alternates if the number of Elected Senators is nine to eleven;

–four alternates is the number of Elected Senators is twelve to fourteen; and

–five if the number of Elected Senators is sixteen or more.

Alternate Senators will be designated by the school as First Alternate, Second Alternate, Third Alternate, etc. based upon election results. If an Elected Senator’s seat becomes vacant before the expiration of his/her term, that seat shall be filled for the remainder of the term by the highest designated Alternate Senator elected by that Senator’s school. The designated Alternate Senator will complete the full term of the replaced Elected Senator.

c. Nominations and Elections: Nominations of faculty to serve as Elected Senators and as Alternate Senators shall be made by a Nominating Committee appointed by each school’s governance organization. This committee shall be composed of faculty eligible to vote. The Nominating Committee shall solicit nominations from throughout its school, and/or from an open meeting of the school to which all members of a school’s faculty have been invited two (2) weeks in advance and at which nominations have been indicated to be an agenda item. The Nominating Committee may itself add nominations. The school Nominating Committee should notify potential nominees of the usual day and time of the Faculty Senate meetings and that Elected Senators are expected to represent their school at these monthly meetings from September through May. A secret ballot with the names of all the nominees who have accepted their nominations shall be distributed according to the school’s procedure for conducting elections to all faculty eligible to vote as defined in Article III. Nominees are elected to open positions in descending order of votes received. Schools may have an election for Alternate Senators separately from the election for Senators, or they may combine the election of Senators and Alternate Senators. If the latter, after all open Elected Senator positions have been filled, nominees are elected to open Alternate Senator positions in descending order of votes received. Upon notification by the Corresponding Secretary of the Faculty Senate that a school’s pool of Alternates Senators is diminished, the Dean shall expeditiously direct the selection of replacement Alternates Senators in accordance with the procedures of that school.

Section 6. Absence

a. If an Elected Senator finds it necessary to be absent from a Faculty Senate meeting, or from any significant portion thereof, he or she should first seek representation by an Alternate Senator from his/her school. If the Senator is unable to find an Alternate Senator who agrees to attend, the Senator may choose any faculty member from his or her school as a substitute. Substitutes shall have full debating and voting privileges.

b. Attendance regulations are stated in the Standing Rules of the Faculty Senate.

Section 7. Officers of the Faculty Senate and Their Duties

a. Officers of the Faculty Senate shall be a President, a Vice President, a Corresponding Secretary and a Recording Secretary-Treasurer.

b. The President of the Faculty Senate shall, subject to Senate resolutions, have responsibility for the management and direction of Senate affairs and for communicating Senate views to other persons or groups. He or she shall preside at Senate meetings, Executive Committee meetings and at meetings of the General Faculty. He or she shall be an ex-officio member of all committees except the Nominating Committee. The President of the Faculty Senate shall represent the Faculty Senate on the University Council. If the President of the Faculty Senate is unable to attend a meeting of the University Council, he or she may choose a substitute from the Faculty Senate. Additional duties of the President may be specified in the Standing Rules.

c. The Vice-President shall succeed to the Presidency in the event of a vacancy, and shall preside at Senate, Executive Committee, and General Faculty meetings when the President is absent. The Vice President shall be one of the Faculty Senate’s representatives to University Council. If the Vice-President is unable to attend a meeting of the University Council, he or she may choose a substitute from the Faculty Senate. Additional duties of the Vice-President may be specified in the Standing Rules.

d. The Corresponding Secretary shall be responsible for routine correspondence with Faculty Senators, maintaining an attendance record, and for all correspondence with other members of the University in regard to matters of Senate elections and attendance. Additional duties of the Corresponding Secretary may be specified in the Standing Rules.

e. The Recording Secretary-Treasurer shall be responsible for recording and distributing minutes of all Senate and General Faculty meetings called by the Senate and for overseeing the distribution of funds budgeted for Faculty Senate expenses. Additional duties of the Recording Secretary-Treasurer may be specified in the Standing Rules.

f.A Parliamentarian shall be appointed by the President to serve at the President’s discretion. The Parliamentarian shall also serve at General Faculty meetings.

Section 8. Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate

a. The Executive Committee shall be composed of the President, who shall be Chair of the Committee, Vice-President, the Corresponding Secretary, the Recording Secretary-Treasurer, the immediate Past-President, and a Campus Representative from each campus.

b. The Executive Committee shall act on behalf of the Faculty Senate between Faculty Senate meetings and shall report regularly to the Senate on the disposition of matters. It shall oversee and coordinate the activities of all officers and standing committees of the Faculty Senate in order that their duties may be discharged expeditiously.

Section 9. Election of Officers and Campus Representatives of the Faculty Senate

a. Officers and Campus Representatives shall be elected for a term of one year and may serve no more than two consecutive terms. Elected Senators and Senators at Large are eligible to serve. Elections shall be by nomination and secret ballot. The Nominating Committee, which shall be elected from Faculty Senate membership in February, shall present a slate of officers at the March meeting. Nominations may also be presented from the floor. The consent of the nominee must be obtained. Elections shall be in April, and election shall be decided by plurality. Officers-elect and Campus Representatives-elect shall assume office on August 16th following the election.

b. In order to protect the independence of the Faculty Senate, the Faculty Senate Vice President must be tenured if the Faculty Senate President is not.

c. Elected Senators in the last year of their terms may be elected to serve as officers of the Senate or as Campus Representative for the coming year. If they are elected as an officer or Campus Representative, they will serve as Senators at Large, with full debating and voting privileges as specified in Article IV, Section 2. b. ii., for the coming year.

Section 10. Meetings of the Faculty Senate

a. Regular meetings shall be held every month during the school year, except that either the December or January meeting may be omitted. The President of the Faculty Senate may call special meetings.

b. A quorum exists whenever more than 50% of the Voting Faculty Senators are present, and once in existence, continues to exist as long as at least 25% of the Voting Faculty Senators are present. Voting Senators are defined in Article IV. Section 2. c.

c. Faculty members who are eligible for election to the Faculty Senate may attend its regular and special meetings without vote. Such members may participate in Faculty Senate discussion on a given agenda item only if they have received advance permission from the President of the Faculty Senate to speak on that item, or if the President of the Faculty Senate requests that they provide information to the Faculty Senate on a specific issue.

d. Faculty Senate meetings may be called at the discretion of the President of the Faculty Senate or upon written request of ten Voting Senators to the President of the Faculty Senate.

Section 11. Committees of the Faculty Senate

a. Committees of the Faculty Senate shall be established in accordance with the Standing Rules.

Section 12. Standing Rules of the Faculty Senate

a. The Faculty Senate shall operate in accordance with its Standing Rules. These rules may be amended or rescinded by a majority vote of the Faculty Senate, if advance notice is given at the previous Senate meeting. If no such advance notice has been given, the Standing Rules may be amended or rescinded by a two-thirds vote.

Article V: MEETINGS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY

Section 1. The President of Faculty Senate shall formally request that the President of the University convene the Faculty for a General Faculty Meeting during the semester for the purpose of reporting on the state of the University and receiving questions from the Faculty. This request shall be conveyed each year by the President of the Faculty Senate by December 1st.

Section 2. The President of the Faculty Senate shall convene a meeting of the Faculty upon the written petition of 25 or more members of the Faculty.

Section 3. Five per cent of the Faculty shall constitute a quorum.

Article VI: SCHOOL GOVERNANCE

The Faculty of each school of the University shall organize and establish in assembly, rules and procedures for faculty participation in the governance of the school.

Article VII: PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY

Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised, shall be the authority on all questions of parliamentary law not covered by the Bylaws.

Article VIII: AMENDMENT OF THE BYLAWS

These Bylaws shall be amended by two-thirds of those voting, provided that written notice has been given to each member of voting membership of the Faculty at least one month before the vote is taken.

These Bylaws shall be reviewed, and amended if appropriate, at least every five years.

  1. The original Bylaws were ratified by a vote of the entire VCU faculty in February 1970.
  2. The Bylaws were approved by the University Assembly and were transmitted to the Board of Visitors by the incumbent president, Dr. Warren E. Brandt.
  3. The Bylaws were approved unanimously by the Board of Visitors on July 23, 1970 including “that the Faculty Senate be established and recognized to represent the faculty in the areas of (its) responsibilities and concerns.”
  4. These revised Bylaws of the Faculty include all amendments and changes made prior to, and including, May 21, 2004.