The following FAQs do not replace, supersede, or represent an addendum to the Constitution. Information on this website represents common practice as of the last FAQ update. (22 April 2010)
Please report any conflicts between the FAQs and the Constitution to the webmaster so that they can be referred to the Senate for correction.
What is the purpose of the Senate?
According to our Constitution, the Faculty Senate serves “as the representative body elected by the Faculty to provide a Faculty voice in the formulation of College policy.” (Article I) “The Senate may consider any College matter on its own initiative or at the request of the Faculty Assembly, the Committees, individual Faculty members, students, the College administration, the Board of Trustees, or any campus organization. It may review any College policies and make recommendations concerning them.” (Article III) The Senate, therefore, is composed of members of the larger Faculty Assembly and represents the interests of that Assembly.
What is the Faculty Assembly?
The Faculty Assembly refers to all members of the Faculty acting as a corporate body. As stated in the Constitution (Article II), membership in the Faculty Assembly is limited to individuals who hold the academic rank of Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, or Instructor, AND who serve under at least a half-time contract, AND whose primary appointment is teaching or serving as faculty-librarians.
How many Senators are there? What are the different types of Senators?
There is one Senator for every ten faculty members. Senators include one senator elected from each School and additional At Large Senators who may come from any school.
What is the composition of the Senate?
The Senate is composed of School Senators (one per school) and At Large Senators. The number of senators is tied to the number of Faculty Assembly members such that there is one senator per ten faculty members. Additional elected members include the President, Vice President, and Secretary. The President of the Union serves on the Senate in an ex-officio capacity. The President of the Senate appoints an adjunct faculty member to serve as a non-voting Adjunct Liaison to the Senate.
How do I find out who my Senator is? Who are the members of the Senate or Executive
Go to the Senate Members page.
How do I find Committee Chairs? Who are the members of each Committee? What are the
names of the committees and task forces?
Go to the Committees page.
How do I e-mail the entire Senate?
Use the link on the bottom left of any Senate web page.
When does the Senate meet?
The Senate is required to have regular, publicized meetings (Article IV of the Constitution). Currently, the Senate meets the first Tuesday of the month while classes are in session. Meetings are open to all except for when the Senate votes to go into “Executive Session”. Non-senators, even those who are members of the Faculty Assembly, may not vote in Senate meetings.
When does the Assembly meet?
The Assembly must meet at least three times a year (see Article IV for more information). Additional Assembly meetings may be called by the Senate or via a petition signed by at least 20% of the Faculty. A quorum of the Assembly is defined constitutionally as 20% of the membership. Observers (individuals who are not members of the Assembly) may not vote in Assembly Meetings. Meetings are open to all unless the Assembly votes to close a session.
What is an “Executive Session” or “closed session” of a Senate or Assembly meeting?
Occasionally, the Senate or Assembly may wish to consider an issue without observers. An Executive Session is when the Senate or Assembly votes to meet alone. This state is the same as “closing a session”. When this happens, observers must leave the meeting.
How can a Senate action be overturned?
Members of the Faculty Assembly wishing to overturn a Senate action must present a petition to the Senate President calling for an Assembly vote to reverse the action. This petition must be signed by AT LEAST one-third of the Assembly Members and must be presented no later than two academic weeks (two weeks of scheduled classes not including the last “extended schedule” week) after the Senate action was reported to the Assembly. The vote must be held no later than two Academic Weeks after the President receives the petition. Two-thirds of the Assembly must vote for an action to be reversed for that action to be reversed.
How do I propose changes to the Constitution?
Proposing changes to the Constitution are different than regular proposals to the Senate. The amendment process can be found in Article XI of the Constitution. The following is a quick summary and should not replace reading of the actual constitution. Amendments to the Constitution may be brought to the Senate by the Executive Committee, by a petition signed by at least one-third of the Senators, or by a petition signed by at least one-third of the faculty. Ratification by the Senate requires an affirmative vote of two-thirds of senators. The amendment then passes to the Faculty Assembly for an electronic vote. Affirmative votes by two-thirds of the Faculty Assembly are necessary to ratify an amendment. In each case, the amendment will be distributed one week before the voting process begins. The Senate reserves the right to place multiple proposed amendments, each to be voted upon separately, on a single ballot.
What is the Nominating Committee and who is on it?
The Nominating Committee shall affirmatively seek out capable Faculty members and encourage them to run in Faculty Assembly and Senate elections. It shall also strive to promote diversity and balance in Faculty governance by seeking candidates of different ranks, Schools, disciplines, genders, races, and ethnicities. The President, in consultation with the Executive Committee, shall appoint five Faculty members to serve on the Nominating Committee of the Senate, and shall appoint one of those five as the committee’s chair. The chair and other members of the Nominating Committee shall serve two-year terms. The President shall serve ex officio on the Nominating Committee as a sixth member.
What is a slate?
The Nominating Committee shall is charged with selecting candidates for the At Large positions and candidates for any Assembly-wide elections, such as Assembly Committee chairs. (School Senator elections are held within each School and are not Assembly-wide elections.) The Nominating Committee must “submit to the Faculty Assembly one nominee for each vacancy no later than two Academic Weeks prior to the election date. Additional candidates may self-nominate.” (Article IX) The “slate” refers to the “one nominee for each vacancy” referenced in the Constitution. In other words, the Nominating Committee must make sure that we have enough candidates to fill the positions. However, there can be multiple candidates running for a given position. Additional nominations are encouraged even after the slate has been published up until the official close of nominations so that Assembly members have a true choice amongst candidates.
When do nominations close?
Nominations close no later than three working days before the election. The final list of candidates must be circulated no later than twenty-four hours after nominations close.
How often are elections held for each position?
School Senators are elected in April of odd-numbered calendar years (April 2011, April 2013, etc.) and at-large Senators in April of even-numbered calendar years (April 2010, April 2012, etc.). Senators serve for a term of two years beginning on the first day of the Fall semester following their election. Elections of each Schools’ representatives to standing committees are held in odd-numbered calendar years as soon as practicable after the results of elections of Officers and School Senators are announced, with one exception: In the case of the Committee on Research and Professional Development, one representative from the Library is elected each even-numbered calendar year, and one representative from each of the other Schools are elected each year. All representatives to standing committees elected serve two-year terms to begin on the first day of the Fall semester following their election. More information can be found in Articles V and VII of the Constitution.
Where can I find out more information?
Further information about the election process can be found in Article IX of the Constitution. Questions may also be addressed to the Senate Parliamentarian.
Where can I propose changes to the election process?
Changes to the election process involve amending the Constitution. Please see above within General Senate FAQs.
What happens when a Senator resigns or something else happens to remove a Senator
from his or her position?
In addition to resignations, vacancies can occur when a Senator becomes ineligible for Senate membership (e.g., loses faculty status) or is removed by Senate action. If a School Senator changes to a different school, they can no longer represent their former school and the seat becomes vacant. The School would then elect a replacement to finish out the term. At Large vacancies are filled by the candidate who received the next highest number of votes in the most recent at-large election. If that person is unable or unwilling to serve, the seat shall remain vacant until the next election of Senators at large. (Article V of the Constitution)
I have an idea that I think should go to the Senate. What should I do first?
Groups or individuals are encouraged to contact the Vice President of the Senate prior to creating a proposal. The VP can run your idea informally past the Senate. Both the Senate and VP can provide time-saving feedback and advice. For example, we will let you know if others are working on similar proposals that you may wish to contact. And, of course, we appreciate having a heads up on any issues that we will eventually be asked to consider. We also suggest that you discuss your proposal with your school senator.
I would like to address the Senate about an issue, but I’m not sure that it merits
a full “proposal”? What is a proposal?
A proposal is a written document that contains an idea on which you would like the Senate to vote. As stated in our Constitution, the Senate serves “as the representative body elected by the Faculty to provide a Faculty voice in the formulation of College policy.” The nature of the idea or policy change determines the length and complexity of the proposal. Proposals may run from a few paragraphs to many pages in length. Proposals could include, but are not limited to, something as simple as a signed petition that you wish the Senate to consider endorsing or a complex proposal for a new graduate program complete with supporting documents. We encourage you to notify the VP and consult with Senators as you formulate your proposal.
I am not sure whether my proposal is a programmatic or school issue or represents a true change in college policy. What should I do?
While normally you would contact the VP with ideas for a new proposal, in this case you may wish to contact the entire Executive Committee. The Executive Committee may provide you with an immediate opinion or opt to run your idea past the Senate at the next meeting. If there is the chance that your proposed change could have implications beyond your program, it is probably best to submit a proposal to the Senate. Having Senate approval may save time in the future and provides a method of demonstrating broader faculty support for your initiative. As always, you also have the option of contacting the entire Senate at any time.
How do I find out where my proposal is in the process?
If referred to a Standing Committtee, Committee Chairs will contact you once they have finished considering your proposal. You will be notified of each meeting date when your proposal will be considered by the Senate.
Once I submit my proposal, can everyone see it or just the Senate?
Propsals that come before the Senate for action are published on the website prior to the Senate meeting.
Once I have submitted a proposal, can I make changes to the proposal?
Once submitted to a committee, changes to the proposal should be limited to correcting errors of fact. CHANGES TO A PROPOSAL MAY SLOW ITS MOVEMENT SUBSTANTIALLY THROUGH THE SENATE. However, we understand that external events may necessitate changes to a proposal. If your proposal is still in committee, contact the chair of the committee to which your proposal has been referred AND the VP. Contacting the VP ensures that changes and updates are made on the Senate website and are distributed to Senate members. If your proposal has been forwarded by the committee to the Senate, you need only contact the VP. Changes to a submitted proposal may cause the Senate to refer the proposal back to committee or to push back the date of the first or second reading so that we may fully consider your revisions. Please note that committees or the Senate may ask for additional information or recommend specific changes based on the proposal as submitted.
I have some ideas how to make this a better process. Whom do I contact?
We appreciate any suggestions that you have about making the proposal process more effective. You may contact an individual senator, such as your School Senator or a member of the Executive Committee, or you may e-mail the entire Faculty Senate. A list of every Senator can be found by clicking on the Senate Members link on this website.
How do I propose changes to the Constitution?
See above within General Senate FAQs.