Procedures for Communicating and Deliberating Faculty Issues

(revised 8/25/2011)

Members of the school community are encouraged to raise issues through a variety of channels, appropriate for different purposes. If the issue is one of administration, it may be most appropriate to go through the administrative structure, including department chairs and the dean. If the issue is within the province of a committee of the faculty, such as the Committee on Educational Policy or the Committee on Admissions and Degrees, it may be appropriate to communicate directly with members of the committee or through the committee chair. In other cases, the issue may be brought to the Faculty Council, an elected body charged with representing the interests of the faculty.

Ordinarily, items of business that faculty members or students wish to bring to the attention of the Faculty Council should be sent in writing to the chair of the Faculty Council. Such communication should, when possible, be received by the chair one week prior to the Faculty Council meeting at which the communication is to be considered. Faculty members may also communicate directly with individual Faculty Council members, or with the secretary of the faculty (currently, the assistant dean for faculty affairs), who will bring the concerns before the council. The Faculty Council may take one of the following courses of action: a) seek additional information; b) refer the matter to an existing faculty committee; c) settle the issue by direct communication with the individuals involved; d) place the issue on the agenda of a faculty meeting; or e) appoint, or ask the dean to appoint, an ad hoc committee to make recommendations. In general, the function of the Faculty Council is confined to seeking methods for solving problems; it is only rarely necessary for the council itself to develop solutions.

The Faculty Council action is communicated promptly in writing to the individuals who brought the issue to the council. The faculty as a whole is generally informed of Faculty Council actions, except in cases that are considered to be confidential either by the council or by the individuals who brought the issues to the council.

Record of the action taken at each Faculty Council meeting provides a mechanism for disseminating information to the faculty and is accessible to all faculty members on a PIN-protected iSite. In addition, the Faculty Council may provide brief oral reports at faculty meetings and informal gatherings to keep the faculty informed of the questions and issues currently under consideration.

The Faculty Council is also responsible for keeping in touch with other faculty committees for the purpose of assuring a flow of business to faculty meetings that will encourage timely and considered action by the faculty. Committee reports and recommendations to be acted upon at a faculty meeting should be submitted to the Faculty Council at least one week prior to the council meeting that sets the agenda for the faculty meeting at which the item is to be discussed. If the item is approved for the agenda, any supporting materials will be distributed to the faculty either before or at the meeting. Any recommendations for faculty action should be accompanied by a thorough and objective statement of the arguments pro and con.

Individuals or groups that wish to offer an amendment or alternative recommendation for faculty action should bring it to the faculty meeting in written form, with enough copies for distribution. If possible, such amendments or alternative recommendations should be prepared sufficiently in advance to permit distribution with the agenda. The procedure of composing amendments at the faculty meeting should be used only in unusual circumstances or for minor changes in wording.

Faculty action is decided by a majority of those present and voting at the faculty meeting. Insofar as feasible, matters requiring a vote are introduced and discussed at one meeting and the vote is taken at the next meeting.

It is expected that members of the faculty will attend faculty meetings. Any faculty member who cannot attend a faculty meeting because of an unavoidable commitment may authorize another faculty member to vote for him or her by proxy. Such authorization should be set down in writing and given to the secretary of the faculty before the meeting. Under these circumstances, a vote will normally be tallied as follows: a) a count of hands of those voting “aye,” excluding proxy votes; b) a call for proxy votes of “aye,” with those who vote indicating whose proxy is being exercised; c) a count of hands of those voting “nay,” excluding proxy votes; and d) a call for proxy votes of “nay,” with those who vote indicating whose proxy is being exercised.

In situations where faculty action is required between regularly scheduled faculty meetings, the Faculty Council follows one of three procedures: a) it calls a special faculty meeting; b) it conducts a mail ballot; or c) it takes council action on behalf of the faculty and submits the action for ratification at the next regular faculty meeting.

An individual student or a group of students may bring a matter of concern to the attention of the director of student affairs, the associate dean for student services, or the Student Government, for advice or for reference to an appropriate department or committee, to an administrator, or to a student representative on a standing committee of the school.