The University's Bylaws provide for the faculty to play several roles in governance. These are performed at a number of levels in the institution. The Faculty Senate (hereinafter called the Senate) serves as the authoritative voice of the entire faculty on matters pertaining to the academic mission and strategy of the university as established in the University Bylaws (Article X, Section 2). Elected by faculty colleagues, members of the Senate shall, in accordance with the Bylaws, have primary responsibility for:
Instruction and academic standards;
determination of curricula and approval of courses;
recommendations of faculty appointments, promotions, and other faculty personnel concerns;
recommendations for the instructional budget;
recommendations of policies affecting student affairs.
For curricular and academic programs, the Faculty Senate will consider matters affecting more than one school or college.
The Senate shall have the power:
To delegate and to re-delegate or to reclaim the exercise of any of its powers to its standing committees.
To fill or to provide for the filling of vacancies in its membership or leadership between annual elections, and to fix the procedures for the nomination and election of at large members of the Senate and of its standing committees.
To create, reconstitute, and abolish, and to provide for the appointment and discharge of members of special committees and to define the powers of those committees.
To create, reconstitute, and abolish standing committees, and to define the power thereof, with the understanding that any standing committee may, in addition, exercise powers delegated by the Board of Trustees.
To invite any person to attend a meeting and to speak within limits set by the Senate. Guests may not vote.
To take such other action by resolution as it may deem necessary and proper for the exercise of its authority and responsibilities.
Article II. Membership
The voting membership of the Senate shall be elected by the university faculty resulting in 23 members. There will be four members from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and one each from the Kogod School of Business (KSB), the School of Communication (SOC), the School of International Service (SIS), the School of Public Affairs (SPA), the Washington College of Law (WCL), and the University Library; all to be elected by secret ballot within each unit. In addition there will be four members elected at large by secret ballot. In addition, the chair and vice chair of the Committee on Faculty Relations and the chairs of the following committees: Joint Committee on Curriculum and Academic Programs; Committee on Information Services; Committee on Instructional Budget and Benefits; Committee on Faculty Development; Committee on Student Life are members of the Senate. The Immediate Past Chair of the Senate will remain a member through the completion of his or her term even if this exceeds the normal term limit rule. All other Senators are subject to a term limit of two consecutive terms or a maximum of four consecutive academic years. Term limits are defined as ineligibility to again serve on the Senate for the next two academic years. At the completion of the term of office of the Immediate Past Chair, the standard term limit will apply to this person.
The Provost, as the chief academic officer, is the official leader of the faculty and an ex officio member of the Senate but does not vote. He or she has all other privileges of senate membership.
The university faculty shall elect, annually, in the spring, approximately one half of the faculty membership of the Senate for terms of two years.
All full-time faculty, emeriti faculty and all administrative officers of the university who hold academic rank are eligible to participate in elections for the Senate and, with the exceptions of the President and Provost, to be elected as faculty representatives.
Terms of office of newly elected senators shall begin on June 15.
Article III. Officers of the Senate
The Chair of the Senate shall have been the vice chair or, in the event of need, be elected by and from the Senate. The chair serves for a term of one year, beginning June 15. He or she shall preside, and appoint special committees unless the Senate by resolution fixes another rule for their selection. Upon completion of his or her term as Chair, the individual becomes the Immediate Past Chair for a one-year term.
The Vice Chair of the Senate shall be elected by and from the Senate for a term of one year, beginning on June 15. He or she shall discharge the responsibilities of the Chair of the Senate in his or her absence or at his or her request.
The Immediate Past Chair shall serve a one-year term.
Article IV. Meetings
The Chair of the Senate shall fix the schedule of dates and times for its regular meetings (normally on the first Wednesday of each month) for the academic year. Information related to the meeting shall be provided in a direct and timely manner to members of the Senate and others deemed appropriate including the President, the Provost, all deans, the University Librarian and the chairs or heads of the American University Student Government, the Graduate Student Association and the Student Bar Association.
Special meetings may be called by the President of the university, the Provost, the Chair of the Senate (or in his or her absence or incapacity, the Vice Chair of the Senate), or by a majority of the Senate.
A voting quorum of the Senate shall consist of a majority of its voting membership. The Chair is to be counted in this computation.
Article V. Non-Voting Participants and Observers
The President of the university and members of the Board of Trustees, vice presidents, the University Counsel, the Dean of Academic Affairs, the deans of CAS, KSB, SIS, SOC, SPA, the University Librarian, any other member of the administration whose presence is appropriate to the agenda in the judgment of the Provost or the Chair, and the Chair of the Staff Council or designee, the heads of the American University Student Government, the Graduate Student Association and the Student Bar Association are invited to attend all senate meetings for the purpose of ensuring that appropriate communication be maintained between the Senate and their respective offices. They shall have the privilege of speaking on motions equally with the members of the Senate. The President and the Dean of Academic Affairs are entitled to sit at the tables at which the Senate members sit.
Members of the university community are invited to senate meetings.
News representatives of the student newspaper, radio, television station, and other University publications are specifically invited to attend and to report on senate meetings. Representatives of other communications media may attend by special permission of the Chair or Senate. Use of television cameras and other recording devices requires advanced notice to the Chair and university office of Media Relations.
The Senate has the right by majority vote to go into executive session. When an executive session is voted, all non-voting participants and observers including press representatives must leave the meeting hall unless invited to stay.
Article VI. Agenda and Conduct of Meeting
The agenda will ordinarily include the roll call; the minutes of the previous meeting; report of the chair; report of the provost; items requiring Senate action; items of informational interest and items for the good of the order.
Any member of the Senate may submit to the Executive Committee (see Article IX.C) items for inclusion in the agenda no later than fifteen days before the next Senate meeting. The Executive Committee, shall prepare the agenda, including omitting, consolidating, or revising it. The Chair may specify for any item on the agenda the amount of time allotted for debate and whether or not amendments shall be allowed. The Chair’s and the Executive Committee's actions in setting agendas are subject to review by the Senate.
Members of the university faculty who are not members of the Senate may submit items for inclusion in the agenda under the same conditions as members of the Senate.
Members bringing matters to the agenda should make clear the reasons for bringing them. Evidence should also be presented that schools and departments having an interest in the item have been consulted. Some expression of the views should accompany the presented material. An executive summary and supporting documentation and copies of motions requiring Senate action should be provided to the Chair for distribution with the agenda.
Although the Senate usually is able to conduct its business without strict compliance with published Rules of Order, ordinarily members and others should restrict their comments to no more than three minutes at any one time so that all will have an opportunity to express their views.
Article VII. Approval of Senate Actions
Action taken by the Senate under the authority of the Bylaws of the University which require administrative implementation shall be transmitted to the Provost for consideration in the following manner: Within five calendar days of passage, the Chair of the Senate shall forward copies of any approved or recommended actions to the Provost. It is expected that the Provost will reply, in writing, within 30 calendar days of the date of Senate approval and explain his or her decision.
Article VIII. Access to Records of the Senate
The agenda and minutes of the Senate shall be serially numbered and duplicated in accordance with provisions of the university archivist. Copies of supporting documents will be suitably reproduced for inclusion in the official copies of the record.
The Senate shall inform the faculty of important actions taken. The agenda, minutes and supporting documentation of the Senate shall be considered open to inspection by all members of the university faculty and shall be maintained in a place convenient for their inspection. At the end of the year, a bound copy is forwarded to the university archives, and two sets of Senate records are available at the office of the Faculty Senate.
The Senate, and its members acting individually and collectively, should take proactive efforts to engage in outreach to their constituents.
Article IX. Committees and Functions
Joint Committee on Curriculum and Academic Programs, to consist of ten faculty members elected proportionally from and by the faculties from the academic units with four from CAS and one each from KSB, SIS, SOC, SPA, WCL and the University Library; one graduate student designated by the Graduate Student Association and one undergraduate student designated by the Student Confederation. Co-chairs are to be elected by the membership of the committee from its faculty members. Each co-chair receives one course release.
The committee oversees graduate and undergraduate offerings including General Education and the Honors Program, but jurisdiction is limited to consideration of new programs, major changes, and terminations that affect more than one teaching unit. Proposals for new programs, major changes and terminations will be circulated to the deans, the provost, and the Curriculum and Academic Programs Committee co-chairs for comment, to determine if there would be an effect beyond more than one teaching unit; if so, the committee would consider the proposals.
Committee on Faculty Relations, to consist of seven tenured members of the university faculty elected at large by tenured and tenure-track faculty from all units except WCL for staggered three-year terms, with no more than three to be elected in any one year except to fill vacancies in unexpired terms. The chair and vice chair are to be elected by and from the membership of the committee. The chair receives one course release.
The committee is to represent the interests of and to be concerned with the individual and collective welfare of the faculty. Specific responsibilities of the Committee on Faculty Relations are as specified in the Faculty Manual. As appropriate, the committee reviews all faculty personnel actions pertaining to promotion, tenure, and leaves. The Committee on Faculty Relations proposes changes to the Faculty Manual for action by the Senate. As appropriate, the committee shall report to the Senate if matters need legislative or oversight attention.
Committee on Instructional Budget and Benefits, to consist of ten members elected proportionally from and by the faculties from the academic units with four from CAS and one each from KSB, SIS, SOC, SPA, WCL and the University Library, one emeriti faculty member, one graduate student designated by the Graduate Student Association and one undergraduate designated by the Student Confederation. The chair is to be elected by the membership of the committee from its faculty members.
The committee is responsible for reviewing the budget guidelines each year and making recommendations to the Senate for legislation concerning the budget. The committee considers all financial matters pertaining to the academic programs and faculty of the university and is authorized by the Senate to request financial data. As appropriate, the committee shall report to the Senate if matters need legislative or oversight attention.
The committee also considers the physical plant operations and services in support of the academic programs of the university. The committee makes recommendations for space allocations and considers and makes recommendations regarding priorities for investment in all facilities used to advance the academic mission of the university. The committee also reviews the use of university facilities by non-university groups, maintenance, remodeling, renovation, and building programs of the university and other related matters.
The committee also represents the Senate in matters of faculty benefits. It reviews and makes recommendations in areas including, but not limited to, retirement benefits, health and disability benefits, other types of insurance benefits, tuition benefits, and parking benefits. As appropriate, the committee shall report to the Senate if matters need legislative or oversight attention.
Committee on Faculty Development, to consist of ten members elected proportionally by the faculties from and by the academic units with four from CAS and one each from KSB, SIS, SOC, SPA, WCL and the University Library. The chair is to be elected by and from the membership of the committee.
The committee considers and recommends policies to recruit and retain faculty of the highest quality and diversity and promotes excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. As appropriate, the committee shall report to the Senate if matters need legislative or oversight attention. The committee may also sponsor or otherwise be involved with appropriate orientation activities for new faculty members each year.
Committee on Information Services, to consist of ten members elected proportionally by the faculties from and by the academic units with four from CAS and one each from KSB, SIS, SOC, SPA, WCL and the University Library, one graduate student designated by the Graduate Student Association and one undergraduate designed by the Student Confederation. The chair is to be elected by the membership of the committee from its faculty members.
The committee is responsible for maintaining liaison with the Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. The committee shall assess the varying computer needs of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty. In exercising its oversight functions, the committee shall examine the adequacy of the delivery of computer services to students and faculty, in particular, facilities, budget support, and staff. As appropriate, the committee shall report its findings and recommendations to the Committee on Instructional Budget and Benefits, including recommendations about long-range financial planning.
The committee also is responsible for maintaining liaison with the University Librarian concerning plans and programs. In cooperation with the library, the committee shall assess the varying library needs of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty. In exercising its oversight functions, the committee shall examine the adequacy of the delivery of library services to students and faculty, in particular, facilities, budget support, staff, and cooperation with the Consortium of University Libraries. As appropriate, the committee shall report its findings and recommendations to the Committee on Instructional Budget and Benefits, including recommendations about long-range financial planning.
Committee on Student Learning and Academic Engagement, to consist of seven members elected from and by the faculties of the academic units with one each from CAS, KSB, SIS, SOC, SPA, WCL and the University Library, two graduate students designated by the Graduate Leadership Council, two undergraduates designated by the Student Confederation, the president of the Residence Hall Association, and the director of Athletics. The chair is elected by the membership from among its faculty members.
The committee serves as the Senate's liaison to the American University student community on matters that affect student learning and academic engagement. These matters may include but not be limited to student academic performance and retention, academic integrity and student conduct, student-faculty relations, experiential learning, academic support services, financial assistance programs, co-curricular and extra-curricular programming, and residential life. The committee will carry out its charge with sensitivity to the needs of AU's diverse student body, which includes part-time, non-traditional, international, and nonresidential students. Matters requiring legislation or a public forum will be brought to the attention of the Senate.
The committee also addresses matters of academic policy pertaining to the university's intercollegiate athletics program. These include academic standards for student-athletes and the establishment of regulations for the program that conform to the academic purposes of American University and comply with the regulations of intercollegiate athletics. Specifically, the committee will formulate and review eligibility criteria for participation on intercollegiate athletic teams, review the academic performance of program participants, and review decisions on exceptional cases as submitted by the director of Athletics.
Special and Advisory Committees
Committee on Faculty Equity and Grievances, to consist of seven tenured members of the university faculty elected by tenured and tenure-track faculty for staggered three-year terms, with no more than three to be elected in any one year, except to fill vacancies in unexpired terms. The chair is to be elected by and from the membership of the committee.
The committee hears and makes a determination concerning all grievances filed by members of the faculty. As appropriate, the committee shall report to the Senate if matters need legislative or oversight attention. The committee is also charged with overseeing university policies and programs to make certain that all faculty are accorded equitable treatment and allocated resources equitably within the university in accordance with the university's statement on non-discrimination. The committee shall propose legislation, as needed, and recommend oversight review, as needed, to the Senate.
The Faculty Hearing Committee shall be composed of 15 tenured members of the teaching faculty elected by the university faculty-at-large. Members of the Hearing Committee shall be elected for terms of three years.
Individual panels are drawn from the elected members of the Committee to hear cases. The Faculty Hearing Committee is charged with hearing cases referred to it by the Provost involving termination of continuous tenure appointments, or probationary or special term appointments before the end of the specified term due to incompetence, misconduct, or other cases involving major disciplinary sanctions against a faculty member. It is also used to hear cases of a formal complaint of sexual harassment or violation of research integrity. It reviews cases presented to it and makes recommendations in accordance with the procedures specified in Section 19 of the Faculty Manual.
Committee on General Education, an advisory committee to the Director of General Education program, consists of five senior faculty elected by the Senate, the Director of General Education, the Faculty Coordinator, five area representatives appointed by the Director of General Education and two undergraduate student members– one appointed by the Director of General Education and the other designated by the Student Confederation. The Director of General Education serves as chair.
Honors Advisory Committee is to advise the Director of the Honors Program and consists of seven faculty, with three from CAS and one each from KSB, SIS, SOC and SPA elected by the Senate, the Director of the Honors Program, one appointed by the Director of the Honors Program, and one representative each of the Student Confederation, the Joint Committee on Curriculum and Academic Programs and the Committee on General Education. The Director of the Honors Program serves as chair.
At the final meeting of each academic year, the Senate shall constitute an Executive Committee for the following academic year. The Senate Executive Committee shall have seven voting members: the Senate Past Chair, the Senate Chair, the Senate Vice Chair, the Budget and Benefits Committee Chair, a Chair of the Joint Committee on Curriculum and Academic Programs (selected by that committee), an at-large Senator, and an additional Senator from among its number. When seeking to fill the at-large and general seats on the Executive Committee, the Senate will strive for representation from as many colleges and schools as possible. In instances when more than one Senator has been nominated for either the at-large or general seat on the Executive Committee, the Senate shall use a secret ballot to decide who will serve. The Provost and the Dean of Academic Affairs are ex officio non-voting members of the Senate Executive Committee. The Senate Chair has the discretion to invite any person to attend an Executive Committee meeting and to speak within limits set by the committee. Guests may not vote. The Senate Executive Committee has the right by majority vote to go into executive session. When an executive session is voted, all non-voting Committee members and guests must leave the meeting place unless invited to stay by majority vote.
Among the duties of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee are the following: (1) setting the Senate’s agenda, (2) bringing motions to the Senate on its own initiative, (3) informing the faculty when nominations are due for Senate elections and making reasonable efforts to ensure that there are the appropriate number of nominees for each election, (4) nominating faculty subject to Senate ratification to serve as faculty representatives on committees of the Board of Trustees, (5) maintaining liaison with all Senate committees, and (6) providing minutes for Executive Committee meetings.
Article X. Eligibility for, Nominations and Elections to the Senate and Its Committees
All full-time and emeriti faculty are eligible to be elected to the Senate and its committees except for the Committee on Faculty Relations and the Committee on Faculty Equity and Grievances all of whose members must be tenured faculty and elected by tenured and tenure-track faculty. WCL faculty are not eligible for membership on the Committee on Faculty Relations nor may WCL faculty vote for the membership of that committee.
Nominations and Elections for Campus Wide Positions
Self-nominations, of eligible faculty willing to serve on the Senate or on the Committee on Faculty Relations, the Committee on Faculty Equity and Grievances or the Faculty Hearing Committee should be sent to the Senate office by the Friday before the spring semester vacation in March. All eligible individuals who are nominated and who agree to run will be placed on the appropriate ballots.
Balloting to fill at large vacancies on the Senate and to fill vacancies on the Committee on Faculty Relations, the Committee on Faculty Equity and Grievances, and the Faculty Hearing Committee shall be conducted in the week immediately following the spring semester vacation in March. If such scheduling would not result in a termination of balloting by March 30, the Vice Chair of the Senate will specify a period in March for which balloting would end by the date specified.
Ballots may be returned through campus mail or may be delivered in person to the office of the Senate. The Senate is empowered to adopt on-line balloting if it is satisfied this can be done in a reasonably secure manner.
Ballots will also be mailed to emeriti faculty and to any other full-time faculty who have requested this in writing. These ballots may be returned by U.S. mail, through campus mail, or may be delivered in person to the Senate office and must be in the Senate office by the termination of balloting deadline. If the Senate adopts on-line balloting, it may also authorize the use of this for emeriti faculty and others covered by this paragraph.
Faculty members will be allowed to vote for as many persons as there are vacancies in the membership to be filled, and those receiving the greatest number of votes shall be declared elected according to the regulation on Senate membership.
Ballots shall be counted by the Vice Chair of the Senate and by persons designated by the Vice Chair of the Senate on the business day following the termination of the balloting period. No candidate for any of the offices or positions being balloted will be a part of this group.
Ties shall be immediately resolved by the group counting the ballots by lot.
The results of the election shall be certified by the group counting the ballots and announced to the campus community.
Nominations and Elections within Units
Representatives of the various colleges, schools and the University Library, both as Senate members and members of its committees, are to be elected by secret ballots using whatever system for nominations and elections that is approved by the faculty of the individual units. The Dean of that college or school and the University Librarian for the library will notify the Provost and Chair of the Senate, no later than April 10, of names of the newly elected Senators and committee members.
Nominations and elections of Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs
Committees whose chairs, and for the Committee on Faculty Relations its vice-chair, are members of the Senate, shall conduct their own elections of these officers as soon as practical following the annual election of its new members. The chairs will serve for a term of one year. The committees may use whatever system they decide and the chair whose term is ending will notify the Provost and Chair of the Senate of the results of who the new chair and, when appropriate, vice-chair are.
In the event of a vacancy in the Senate or on a committee, the vacant seat shall be filled for the remainder of the vacated term by vote of the faculty of the unit represented, by vote of the members of the committee when appropriate or, for at large members and those of the Committee on Faculty Relations, the Committee on Faculty Grievances, and the Faculty Hearing Committee, the eligible person, not a member of the Senate or that committee, who received the greatest number of votes in the most recent general election for the Senate. If, however, a vacancy occurs on the Senate or a committee or in an office for which there exists a person already elected, but not yet due to take office, this person shall succeed immediately to fill the vacancy and will serve until the completion of the term for which he or she was elected. If necessary to complete this term, the normal term limits are suspended. If two or more persons are eligible under this rule, the one who received the most votes shall assume the position or office.
Vacancies in the offices of Vice Chair or Immediate Past Chair shall be filled by majority vote for the remainder of the vacated term by the Senate which may suspend the normal term limit rule to fill one of these positions.
Article XI. Authority of the Senate During the Summer Recess
Between spring commencement and the first day of classes in the fall semester, the Chair and at least one other officer and any other senators who can attend a special meeting may exercise the authority of the Senate. This authority shall only be exercised in cases in which urgent action must be taken prior to the first meeting of the Senate in the fall. A full report of all actions under this article shall be presented to the first fall meeting of the Senate.
Article XII. Amendments
The Senate may amend these rules as needed but may not abolish elections as provided for within units and also may not change the term limit rule except as specified for very limited circumstances in the election article above.