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Faculty Handbook / Section 3: Faculty Governance

Section 3: Faculty Governance

Introduction

The Faculty Senate has long played a central institutional role at Florida State University and is responsible for ensuring active faculty participation in all decisions related to academic policy. The Faculty Senate was first composed by mandate of the Constitution of Florida State College for Women in May 1931 and was part of the Florida State University Constitution after 1946. Until 1971, the Senate operated with the president of the university as presiding officer; in 1971, the Senate reconstituted itself in its present form, with Wayne C. Minnick serving as the first elected Faculty Senate President. From its inception, the Faculty Senate has been responsible for academic policy and for providing a forum for faculty input to the administration on a variety of subjects of interest to the university community. Much of the work of the Senate is accomplished through its standing and special committees.

The Faculty Senate formulates measures for maintaining a comprehensive educational policy and for maximum use of the University’s intellectual resources. The Senate defines university-wide policies on academic matters, including Liberal Studies policy, admission, grading standards, and requirements for the awarding of degrees. The Senate may also formulate opinions on any subject of interest to the University and adopt resolutions thereon.

The composition, powers, and rules of the Faculty Senate are defined in the Constitution of Florida State University and further specified in the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate. Both Faculty Senate expectations and accountability measures required by the State of Florida, the federal government, and relevant accrediting bodies, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), require that faculty governance also occur at the College and Department levels. Specifically, all teaching units must have curriculum committees or the equivalent, and all units must have established procedures for faculty governance at the unit level. In addition, University Promotion and Tenure policies require that all departments and colleges have elected Promotion and Tenure Committees. 

Jurisdiction of the Faculty Senate

The jurisdiction of the Faculty Senate is defined in Article IV, section B of the FSU Constitution (http://facsenate.fsu.edu). Recognizing the Faculty Senate as the “basic legislative body of the University,” Article IV, section B sets forth five jurisdictional directives charting its authority. [Art. IV, Section B, (1)-(5)] The first three jurisdictional directives describe three core Senate powers:

  • “formulate measures for the maintenance of a comprehensive educational policy and for the maximum utilization of the intellectual resources of the University;” [Art. IV, Section B, (1)]
  • “determine and define university-wide policies on academic matters, including Liberal Studies policy, admission, grading standards, and the requirements within which the several degrees may be granted;” [Art. IV, Section B, (2)] and
  • “formulate its opinion on any subject of interest to the University and adopt resolutions thereon.” Resolutions that treat areas of authority legally reserved to the President of the University or other governance bodies will be advisory, however. [Art. IV, Section B, (3)] 

The fourth constitutional jurisdictional provision grants the University President the power to “veto any action of the Senate.” Any veto must be communicated in writing, with reasons for the veto, to the Secretary of the Senate (the Vice-Chair of the Faculty Senate) and to the Chair of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee within 60 days of the Senate action. The Faculty Senate has recourse to the Board of Trustees in the event of a presidential veto. By a two-thirds vote, the Senate may appeal any action so vetoed to the FSU Board of Trustees. [Art. IV, Section B, (4)]

Finally, the fifth constitutional jurisdictional provision bears on the role of the Faculty Senate as a voice in the selection of nominees for University President, in the event of the resignation, retirement or death of the President. Upon the request of the Board of Trustees, the Faculty Senate is empowered to designate individuals to be available for membership on any committee requested by the Board of Trustees, for the purpose of consultation in the selection of a presidential nominee. [Art. IV, Section B, (5)] 

Membership in the Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate is composed of 100 Senators, who are elected to the Faculty Senate as representatives of a college, including a representative from the Developmental Research School (the Florida State University School) and a representative from the Library. [Art. IV, Section A, (1.)(a)] Senators are elected for two-year terms, which begin with the regular April meeting of the election year. [Art. IV, Section A, 1(d)(1)]

Representation is proportional, based on the number of eligible faculty in each college, except that each college is entitled to at least one Senator. [Art. IV, Section A, 1(a)] “Eligible faculty” is defined as full-time Instructors, Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, and Professors. University Service Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors are also eligible. [Art. IV, Section A, 1 (c)] The Dean of the Faculties has the duty of submitting a list of eligible faculty to the Faculty Senate Coordinator by Feb. 1 of each year. [Art. IV, Section A, 1 (d)(1)] The Faculty Senate Coordinator determines the total number of representatives apportioned to each college, and the number to be elected that year, by Feb. 15 of each year. The Faculty Senate Coordinator notifies the appropriate dean of the number of Senators to be elected. [Art. IV, Section A, 1(c)]

Each college may elect the number of Senators that reflects the ratio of that unit’s number of faculty, to the number of eligible faculty in the whole University. [Art IV, Section A, 1 (a)] Faculty who have duties in more than one college will be counted in the college where the major portion of the faculty member’s salary is budgeted or time assigned. [Art. IV, Section A, 1 (c)]

Some special rules govern the representation of the Developmental Research School (Florida State University School) faculty. The DRS/FSUS is entitled to one elected Senator. The DRS/FSUS faculty does not count as College of Education faculty for the purpose of determining the College of Education’s number of representatives, nor may the DRS/FSUS faculty vote in the College of Education Faculty Senate election. [Art. IV, Section A, 1(c)]

Each unit may employ its own procedures, as chosen by the eligible faculty, for electing its Senators. Each unit may also elect, according to a procedure determined by eligible faculty members, an alternative representative or representatives, to serve in the absence of the unit’s Senator or Senators. The alternate will have full privileges of a regular Senator when serving in the regular Senator’s absence. [Art. IV, Section A, 1 (d)(2)] 

Ex Officio Members

The following are ex officio members of the Faculty Senate: The President of the University, the Vice Presidents, the Dean of The Graduate School, the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, the dean of each college, the University Registrar, the Director of Libraries, and the President of the Student Body. Ex-officio members shall have the privilege of the floor but may not vote. [Art. IV, Section A, 2] 

President of the Faculty Senate

The President of the Faculty Senate is the body’s presiding officer, elected from the Senate membership for a one-year term. The Senate President also serves as Chair of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee. [Art. IV, Section A, 2] The Senate President is the liaison between the President of the University and the Senate, and communicates the recommendations of the Steering Committee to the President of the University. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate Section E (3)(b)] The Senate President is also a member of the University Board of Trustees. [Florida Statutes 1001.71(1)]

The procedure for electing the President of the Faculty Senate is explained in the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate. The President is elected at the April meeting of the Senate, which is also the first meeting of the Senate’s annual term. Election is by majority vote. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate Section E (1)(b), Section E (3)(a)] 

Steering Committee of the Faculty Senate

The membership of the Faculty Senate also elects a seven-member Steering Committee from its ranks, to serve for staggered two-year terms. The FSU Constitution directs the Steering Committee to determine the agenda for each Faculty Senate meeting, and to provide for the reporting to the Faculty Senate by administrative officers, by chairs of standing and special committees, and by individuals. [Article IV, Section C (1)] The Bylaws of the Faculty Senate further define the jurisdiction of the Steering Committee. The Committee “shall consider and advise regarding all matters which are within the jurisdiction of the Senate.” The Bylaws also anticipate that the Senate’s meeting agendas will be prepared in consultation with the University President, and that the Steering Committee shall advise and consult with the President on any matter at the President’s request. Any faculty member or administrative officer may be asked for information by the Steering Committee, and may be asked to consult with the Committee on any matter within its jurisdiction. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate Section E (2)(c), (d)]

Procedures for the election of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee are set forth in the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate. Steering Committee vacancies are filled by election at the April meeting of the Senate, the first meeting of the Senate term. Four colleges must be represented among the Steering Committee members. For the complete election procedures for the Faculty Senate Steering Committee, please visit http://facsenate.fsu.edu/content/download/28315/175980/CURRENTBylaws
March2013Final.pdf.

The Steering Committee annually elects a Vice Chairperson. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate Section E (2)(a)] The Vice Chair serves as a liaison between the Senate and the Steering Committee and reports the opinions and actions of the Steering Committee to the Senate membership. The Vice Chair, or the Vice Chair’s designee, serves as presiding officer of the Senate in the President’s absence. The Vice Chair also becomes President in the event that the President is unable to complete the elected term of office. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate Section E (3)(b)(c)] 

Meetings of the Faculty Senate

The Faculty Senate meets in regular session each month during the academic year. The schedule of monthly meetings for each annual term of the Senate is presented for confirmation at the April meeting of the Senate, by the Steering Committee. The regular meetings are scheduled for Wednesdays. [Art. IV, Section D (1); Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, Section A (1)] A majority of voting members constitutes a quorum. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, Section B] The Faculty Senate Coordinator keeps the minutes of all meetings of the Faculty Senate. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate Section D (2)]

Special sessions of the Faculty Senate may be convened during the summer. Special meetings may be held at any time at the call of the President of the University, the Steering Committee, or at the written request of 10 voting members of the Senate, representing at least four colleges. [Art. IV, Section D (1), (2); Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, Section A (1) (2)]

All meetings of the Faculty Senate are open. By a majority vote, however, the Senate may go into closed session with only members of the General Faculty present. Any member of the General Faculty may be recognized to speak. The time of a non-member may be limited at the discretion of the presiding officer, subject to the authority of the Senate to extend or curtail a non-member’s time by majority vote. [Art. IV, Section D (3), (4); Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, Section A (3), (5)]

For other rules pertaining to the meetings of the Faculty Senate, please visit the Web site of the FSU Faculty Senate, The Bylaws of the Faculty Senate. http://facsenate.fsu.edu/content/download/
28315/175980/CURRENTBylawsMarch2013Final.pdf 

Faculty Senate Committees

The Faculty Senate is empowered by the FSU Constitution and Bylaws to establish standing and special committees necessary for its work, and to appoint the members of those committees. [Art. IV, Section C (2); Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, Section E (2)(e)] There are currently 14 standing committees supporting the work of the Faculty Senate. The composition of each committee is specified by the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate. Vacancies in standing committees are filled by the Steering Committee, with the advice and consent of the Senate. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, Section F (19)]

Standing committees arrange with the Chair of the Steering Committee to have their reports placed on the Faculty Senate agenda. Except by unanimous consent of the Senate, a committee report that is not on the agenda may not be considered for action. Any report on the agenda should be distributed to the Senate membership two days before the meeting. [Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, Section F (17)-(18)]

The duties, composition, and procedures governing the work of the 14 standing committees are as follows. These can also be found on the Faculty Senate Web site located at http://facsenate.fsu.edu.