Faculty Senate

Overview - Bylaws

The University of Southern Maine is a dynamic learning community that seeks to function as a comprehensive university dedicated to meeting the academic aspirations of all its members: students, staff, faculty, and administration. 

The University administration is charged with providing the physical, financial, and organizational infrastructure to enable the faculty to execute faithfully the University’s academic mission. The potential for conflict between the professional independence of University faculty in the pursuit of academic excellence and the governing organization of the University restrained by financial and political forces may be reduced, though not eliminated, by the practice of shared governance and collegiality in the administration of the University.

Shared governance is used here to describe faculty involvement in University administration through two primary tenets. First, the chief administrative officers of the University, its President, Provost, Deans, and other academic officers, must be as aware of and as positively responsive as possible to the needs of the University in fulfilling its academic mission. Second, the administrative officers of the University should consult with the faculty and rely on advice and assistance from the faculty in the performance of their administrative responsibilities, particularly where administrative officers are called upon to make decisions bearing directly on the central academic functions of the faculty.

The faculty of the University of Southern Maine affirms its commitment to shared governance and collegiality as the most effective basis upon which to manage the affairs of and maintain excellence in this University. The By-laws of the Faculty Senate should be interpreted in this light.

At the same time e acknowledge that the University, its administrative officers, and its faculty are subject to rules of law and social policies that impinge on the principles of collegiality. These By-laws are to be read in such manner as to be consistent with applicable law, while at the same time giving the greatest possible weight to the faculty commitment to sharing with its colleagues in administrative office the burdens and benefits of cooperative management and development of this University. 

PURPOSE

The purpose of the Faculty Senate shall be to advise the President and the Provost on matters affecting the welfare of the University and to ensure effective faculty participation in the shared governance of the University as a whole.

The Faculty Senate shall be responsible for academic policy recommendations applying to the University as a whole, and may make recommendations on any matter of concern to the faculty not reserved to other bodies by the Governance Constitution.

The Faculty Senate shall assess the impact of proposed programs and proposed changes in existing programs that affect more than one faculty or school, college, or independent degree program or significantly affect the University's resource allocation or educational mission. The Faculty Senate will evaluate the impact of University plans on educational policy, admissions policy, student affairs, personnel policy, and resource allocation within the University.

The Faculty Senate through its Executive Committee shall provide faculty liaison to the University’s Board of Visitors and shall provide faculty representation to all long-range planning committees, including the University Planning and Budget Advisory Committee (UPBAC) and its successors.

The Faculty Senate shall recommend appointment of faculty representatives to all University-wide appointed committees.

The Faculty Senate may review and make its own recommendations on policy changes proposed by standing or ad-hoc University-wide committees.

The Faculty Senate shall have timely access to the agendas of the University’s Board of Visitors, the University of Maine System (UMS) Board of Trustees, reports of all University-wide committees, and preliminary drafts of the University budget.

The Faculty Senate's jurisdiction shall not supersede the authority of the constituent faculties as provided in their by-laws and approved by the UMS Board of Trustees.

 

BY-LAWS OF THE FACULTY SENATE

 

A. MEETINGS

1. The Faculty Senate will normally meet at least once a month during the academic year.

2. Meetings will alternate among the Portland, Gorham, and Lewiston-Auburn campuses.

3. Meetings will last no longer than two hours, unless an extension of time is requested by majority vote. (No new agenda items may be considered after the two-hour limit). If agenda items are not completed, they will be postponed until:

a) the next scheduled meeting, or,

b) a special meeting. (See #4)

4. According to the Governance Constitution special meetings may be called by:

a) any seven Senate members acting jointly;

b) the Executive Committee;

c) written petition of 10% of the faculty to the Executive Committee;

d) the Chair of the Senate; or

e) the President.

In the event of a special meeting, transactions would be limited to the business for which the meeting was called.

5. Meetings will be scheduled on a consistent day of the week and time of day throughout the academic year. Normally, meetings will be scheduled for the first Friday of each month.

6. Attendance at Faculty Senate Meetings shall be a priority responsibility for each Senator.

a) Any Senator unable to attend a meeting may designate an alternate from his or her appropriate constituency who does not currently serve on the Senate. Alternates shall identify themselves to the Secretary of the Senate at the start of the meeting and shall have full voting rights at the meeting.

b) Senators on leave for 6 months or less should select an alternate from the appropriate constituency; for leaves of more than 6 months, the seat will become vacant.

c) If any Senator misses three consecutive meetings without sending an alternate or misses five meetings in a year without being represented by an alternate, the appropriate unit shall be formally requested by the Secretary of the Senate to elect a replacement.

 

B. COMPOSITION OF SENATE

 Membership: The Faculty Senate shall be composed as follows:

1. Faculty. Those persons holding full faculty participation rights are eligible for election to the Faculty Senate. Faculty in each school, college, and independent degree program not otherwise represented shall be represented by one senator for each ten members or major fraction thereof, except that each School or College shall be represented by at least two senators. Schools and Colleges with Departments or other logical subdivisions may apportion the selection of senators to represent departments or groupings. Five faculty members shall be elected at large, with no more than three from any school, college, or independent degree program.

Part time faculty shall elect two members to the Faculty Senate with full senate participation rights.

When faculty members with particular ranks or titles in individual colleges, schools, or independent degree programs are excluded from membership in the Faculty Senate by these By-laws, the faculty of the college, school or independent degree program may petition the Faculty Senate to admit such faculty to membership in the Senate.

Representatives shall convey to the Faculty Senate the views of colleagues in their schools, colleges, or independent degree programs. Representatives shall make periodic, public reports of Faculty Senate activities to their schools, colleges, or independent degree programs and shall endeavor to elicit free and general discussion of all appropriate matters.

Faculty members shall be assigned to electoral units through the academic unit in which they hold their primary appointment. Faculty members holding joint appointments in two or more academic units located in different electoral units may choose the single electoral unit to which they will be assigned. If such faculty do not make this choice, the Executive Committee will make the assignment.

Annually, each elected Senator shall forward to the Secretary of the Senate by May 31 the name of the Alternate designated to fulfill all the duties and responsibilities of Senate member at meetings of the Senate in the absence of the Senator. If the electoral unit represented by the Senator has not established procedures for the designation of the Alternate, the Senator shall name his/her Alternate. Alternates must be chosen from the same electoral unit as the Senator. No Senator shall serve as an Alternate. Officer(s) of the Faculty Senate do not have alternates.  

2. Administration. The President, Provost, Deans, and Directors of independent degree programs shall be members, ex officio and non-voting .

3. Students. One representative of the Student Senate shall be a member, non-voting.

4. Professional Staff. One representative of the Professional Staff Senate shall be a member, non-voting.

5. Classified Staff. One representative of the Classified Staff Senate shall be a member, non-voting.

6. Vacancies. Should the seat of a faculty senator become vacant, a replacement shall be provided by the school, college, or independent degree program.  If no one stands for the election, the Senate Executive Committee shall nominate an individual to fill the seat. Should the seat of an at-large faculty senator become vacant, it shall be filled by the Faculty Senate Chair.

7. Officers. A Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary shall be elected annually by the Senate at the regular May meeting of the Senate. Officers shall be eligible for re-election. The Chair shall make timely appointments of persons to standing and ad hoc committees of the Faculty Senate and other committees of the University requiring representation or liaison with the Senate, and shall preside over meetings of the Senate.  The Vice Chair shall preside over meetings of the Senate in the absence of the Chair, and perform other duties as assigned. In consultation with the Chair of the Senate, the Secretary shall prepare, at least annually, an appendix to the by-laws which shall include lists of officers and standing committees of the Faculty Senate, of University Faculty Standing Committees, a summary of actions of the Faculty Senate pertaining to the organization and operation of the Faculty Senate, and summaries of the role of standing committees of the Senate. The appendix may include other information of continuing importance in the discretion of the Secretary and the Chair of the Senate.

8. Term of Office. Term of office begins in May, after election. Senators shall be elected for two-year terms.

 

9. Recall:

a)     An election to recall officers or Faculty Senate committee chairpersons shall be conducted by the Faculty Senate when requested by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting at a meeting of the Faculty Senate, or by petition of 10% of the full-time, regular Faculty.

b) Recall and removal from office of officers or committee chairpersons shall occur when approved by two-thirds of the voting membership at a meeting of the Faculty Senate, provided that each member shall receive written notice of the recall election at least ten days before the vote is taken, or by a majority of votes cast in a written ballot that has been returned by no less than 50% of the full-time, regular Faculty.

c) Recall and removal from office of Senators and Alternates shall occur only when approved by a majority of votes cast on a written ballot by no less than 50% of the faculty eligible to vote in the electoral unit represented by a Senator. Senators elected at-large may only be recalled in a recall election at-large.  

 

C. MECHANISM FOR CONSIDERING ISSUES AND MAKING DECISIONS

1. Agenda:

a) An electronic copy of the agenda and the minutes of the previous meeting shall be distributed to all Senators at least six working days prior to each meeting. In the case of a special meeting, time may not allow a six-day notification. Under these conditions, agendas will be distributed as early as possible. New agenda items for consideration should be submitted to the Chair at least two weeks in advance of the meeting. Whenever possible, the Chair shall refer agenda requests to the appropriate standing committee which will report back to the Chair its recommendation in time for the next regular meeting.

b) Formation of the agenda shall be the responsibility of the Senate Chair, in consultation with the Executive Committee. Items may be placed on agendas for regular meetings by the Chair, by the Executive Committee, by any committee of the Faculty Senate, or by any five members of the Faculty Senate. Items to be placed on the agenda shall be submitted to the Chair at least fourteen days prior to the next regular meeting. The Chair shall normally refer proposals and other business items to standing or ad hoc committees, where appropriate. Committee recommendations shall be submitted to the Senate Chair and, when appropriate, reviewed by the Executive Committee prior to consideration by the Senate.

c) The Senate, by a majority vote, shall have the right to place any item on the current agenda, in accordance with normal parliamentary practice. Such agenda items may be discussed but will not normally be voted on that day. However, when time constraints make it urgent and necessary to have a vote, a vote will be taken after the Senate has indicated its agreement to do so by two-thirds vote.

     2. Quorum: A quorum shall consist of one-third of the voting membership at all regular and special meetings of the Faculty Senate.

3. Executive Session:

Meetings of the Faculty Senate are open to attendance by all members of the University community. However, the Senate may move into executive session by a majority vote of the Senators present. Only voting members of the Faculty Senate will be admitted to such executive sessions.

4. Process:

Meetings shall be conducted under Roberts Rules of Order except when adopted rules of the Senate take precedence. In the absence of the Chair and Vice Chair, the Secretary shall appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, a Chair pro tempore.

Voting on motions shall normally be via voce or by show of hands, but any member may require a roll call vote upon any motion without a second. There shall be no proxy votes.

5. Referenda:

a) Referenda on matters of importance to the regular, full-time Faculty may be initiated by a two-thirds vote of the Senators present and voting at a meeting of the Faculty Senate or by a petition of 10% of the Faculty, no more than half of which shall come from any one school, college, or independent degree program, presented to the Chair.

b) Referenda whose results are intended for presentation to the President and the UMS Board of Trustees shall be conducted by the Faculty Senate after consultation with the President. The results of such referenda shall be forwarded to the President and to the UMS Board of Trustees as representative of the views of the Faculty when approved by two-thirds of the members of the Faculty or when approved by two-thirds of the members of the Faculty Senate.

6. Reporting:

Recommendations pertaining to academic matters resulting from Senate deliberation shall be forwarded in writing to the Provost for consideration. This officer will, in turn, convey a written response to the Senate. Recommendations pertaining to matters other than academic shall be forwarded in writing to the appropriate University officer for consideration and response.

 

D. COMMITTEES OF THE FACULTY SENATE

It shall be a duty of the Secretary of the Senate to prepare and maintain an accurate list on the Faculty Senate website of all standing and ad hoc committees of the Senate together with their charges and composition, which shall be open for inspection to all members of the University community.

The Chair of each Faculty Senate committee shall: hold open hearings on issues when appropriate; file minutes of all committee meetings and hearings, and annual reports with the Senate Chair; submit to the Senate Chair committee recommendations to be placed on the Senate's agenda; and arrange for the distribution of a copy of committee reports to each representative in advance of the Senate meeting at which action on its recommendations is to take place. Each Senate committee shall report orally at least annually to the Faculty Senate.

 

1. Standing Committees

a) The functions of standing committees of the Faculty Senate are to advise, consult, recommend and when specified, act in those areas assigned to them in their charge with due regard to the responsibilities of the Faculty Senate according to the Governance Constitution. The duties and responsibilities of each committee are specified in a committee charge prepared by the committee and approved by the Faculty Senate. Each standing committee shall have at least three members plus a chairperson. The charge of a standing committee may be revised as appropriate by the Committee with the approval of the Faculty Senate.

All committee charges and rules of procedure will be attached as an appendix to the By-laws of the Faculty Senate.

b) Standing Committees of the Faculty Senate:

1) Academic Policies and Standards

2) Faculty Affairs

3) Research

4) Library and Media

5) Strategic Planning & Academic Program Review

6) Academic Computing & Technology

7) Evaluation of Academic Vice-presidents

8) Committee on Committees

9)General Education Council

10) Academic Freedom Committee

c) The term of office of members of standing committees shall be two years, unless otherwise specified, and shall begin immediately following appointment or election to the committee. One-third of each committee membership shall be replaced each year by volunteers or appointees. Terms of office may be successive. 

d) All standing committees will have at least one member who is also a member of the Faculty Senate. Other faculty members, students, administrators, and staff may serve on Faculty Senate Committees as designated in committee procedures and approved by the Faculty Senate. Each committee shall elect its Chair.

e) Election or appointment to standing committees should be accomplished by the last May meeting of the Faculty Senate prior to the academic year in which the committees assume their charges. The Chair of the Faculty Senate shall be a member of the Committee on Faculty Affairs. The Vice-Chair shall be a member of the Committee on Strategic Planning and Academic Program Review. The Secretary shall be a member of the Committee on Academic Policies and Standards. As officers of the Executive Committee, they are ineligible to serve as Chair of a standing governing committee.

f) Standing committees will submit an annual written report to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee in time for distribution at the May meeting of the Senate, i.e. no later that April 15. The report will include a summary of activities, any policies revised or generated, and a statement of ongoing activities and future direction for the committee. The report will then be submitted to the Senate with recommendations from the Executive Committee, as appropriate. These reports and recommendations will be posted to the Faculty Senate web site for a period of at least one calendar year.

 

2. Special Committees

a) Reporting Committees of the Faculty Senate

1) Reporting Committees of the Faculty Senate are to advise, consult, recommend, and act in those areas assigned to them in their charge. Committee duties and responsibilities are specified in the descriptions of the Core Curriculum and Honors Program, respectively, and have been approved by the Faculty Senate.

2) General Education Council and Honors Council: Directors of the Honors Program and General Education Council communicate issues and recommendations from the respective groups to the Senate Chair, who communicates the same to the Executive Committee. At the discretion of the Executive Committee, the issue or recommendation may simply be communicated to the Faculty Senate or placed on the agenda for discussion and action.

b) Ad Hoc Committees

1) Ad Hoc Committees shall be those established by the Senate for consideration of special or transient issues. If no time limit is specified, the committee is deemed to serve until it issues a final report or until the Senate acts to dissolve it. The report will be posted to the Faculty Senate web site for a period of at least one calendar year. The function and membership of an ad hoc committee shall be defined at the time of constitution of committee.

2) Membership shall be by appointment by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

c) Faculty Senate Executive Committee

1) Membership shall consist of the three Senate officers, Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary, and one Senator to represent each School or College of the University and the immediate past Chair, ex officio, non-voting.

2) The Chair of the Executive Committee shall establish the agenda for the Faculty Senate meetings.  The Faculty Senate Executive Committee shall advise the Chair on the appointment of committees, advise and make recommendations to the Senate on matters brought to its attention, and act, if necessary, for the Senate when the Faculty Senate is not in session, reporting all actions taken to the next regularly scheduled Faculty Senate meeting.

Executive Committee responsibilities also include:

Reporting through the Chair to the Faculty Senate on matters of concern to the faculty that have come to its attention.

Referring questions or requests it may receive for consideration to the appropriate committee.

Making recommendations through the Chair to the Faculty Senate on pending issues.

Establishing and maintaining communication with appropriate policy making individuals and groups.

Holding responsibility to see that the annual elections to the Faculty Senate take place in the respective schools, colleges and independent degree programs.

3) The Committee on Committees shall coordinate the election process, shall be responsible for the University-at-Large elections, and shall verify all results.

4) The Executive Committee school or college representatives shall be responsible for assuring that Senate elections in their respective school/colleges are timely conducted.

d) Nominating Committee for Officers

1) Membership shall include the immediate past Chair of the Faculty Senate as Chair, and the current Chair, Vice Chair, and the Secretary of the Faculty Senate.

2) Following completion of the Faculty Senate elections, the nominating committee will prepare a slate of officers. Each school or college will submit a nomination(s) for the Executive Committee to the Nominating Committee. Those Senators eligible for nomination include Senators with an unexpired term and newly elected Senators. The slate of officers and nominations for Executive Committee will be presented to the Senate for a vote at the last Senate meeting of the academic year. In all cases, nominations from the floor shall be in order, in accordance with normal parliamentary practice.

3) The committee shall propose rules for the conduct of nominations and elections which shall be in conformity with the Governance Document and which must be approved by the Faculty Senate.

4) The Nominating Committee shall nominate one or more faculty members to stand for election to the position of USM Faculty Representative to the UMS Board of Trustees for a term of two years. Nominations shall be presented to the Senate for election of one representative at the last Senate meeting during the academic year in which the term of the current representative expires. Additional   nominations from the floor shall be in order, in accordance with normal         parliamentary procedure.

e) On the advice of the Executive Committee, the Faculty Senate shall recommend to the appropriate appointing authority, in a timely manner, the individuals who represent the faculty on search committees for University-wide administrative positions including President, Provost, Vice Presidents, and University Librarian, and on all University-wide standing and ad hoc committees other than long-range planning and long-range advisory committees. Each constituency may recommend faculty, administrators, or professional staff to represent it on University-wide committees if appropriate.

 

E. FACULTY REVIEW

The faculty may review and overrule any action of the Senate. Review of Senate action may be initiated upon the written petition of 10% of the Faculty, no more than half of which shall come from any one college, school, department or independent degree program. Review procedures must be initiated within ninety days of the Senate action in question. Review of Senate action shall be at a meeting of the Faculty called by the Chair of the Faculty Senate and presided over by a member of the full-time faculty selected as the first order of business by faculty present at such a meeting. A majority vote of the members of the faculty present and voting at a called meeting shall be necessary to overrule Senate action.

F. AMENDMENT OF BY-LAWS

1. Amendments to these By-laws proposed for the consideration of the Faculty Senate shall be presented in writing to the Secretary of the Senate. The Secretary shall transmit the proposed amendment to the Executive Committee, which shall in turn constitute an ad hoc By-laws Committee for its consideration and recommendation(s). After receiving the report of the By-laws Committee, the Executive Committee shall forward the proposed amendment to the Senate along with its recommendation.

 2. Following Executive Committee approval, the proposed amendment is placed on the Faculty Senate agenda. All motions to amend these by-laws shall be read and debated at two successive regular meetings of the Faculty Senate held in the same academic year. Following the second debate, a vote on the motion to amend shall be taken. A two-thirds majority of the voting members of the Senate present and voting shall be required for passage of such an amendment. A meeting of the Senate called solely to complete the agenda of a previous meeting shall not count as "successive" meeting within the meaning of this by-law.

Note: Substantial sections of this document were obtained and/or copied from similar documents owned by any of the following institutions: Boston University, George Mason University, State University of New York at Buffalo, University of California at San Diego, University of Wisconsin-Stevens, and College of William and Mary.

 

Revised and Accepted 2003