Faculty Council's Proposals for Governance Reform at Rice University

Proposal officially adopted by Faculty vote on February 28, 2005

 

Proposal for a Faculty Senate at Rice University

 

The Faculty Council shall be replaced by a Faculty Senate, a representative body of the University faculty elected by the respective Schools. In addition to the powers already outlined in the current bylaws of Faculty Council, the new Faculty Senate shall be given authority to decide matters currently decided by the faculty in plenary session, excluding those listed under "Plenary Meetings of the Faculty" below. The newly constituted Faculty Senate will write bylaws consistent with the new system of governance.

 

The Faculty Senate will be a representative body of the University faculty elected by the respective Schools. The Senate will meet at the call of the Speaker but no fewer than five times per academic year. It will decide important matters and, except as provided below, lesser matters on behalf of the faculty.

 

Elections. Elections for the Senate will be held annually in the spring for terms beginning in the following academic year.

 

The term of each elected member will be three years, with a provision for staggered terms.

 

Members may succeed themselves by election only once; after completing two consecutive terms, a member may not stand for reelection for at least 1 year.

 

Vacancies that may materialize during the academic year will be filled by a special election by the respective School.

 

The number of members of the Senate is to be set initially at 30.

 

Twenty-five members are to be elected by the voting faculty members in the respective schools. Among the representatives elected "at any rank" from the various Schools, no more than one person may serve from any single department. The number of representatives that each School may elect will be based on their proportionate number of tenure-track faculty appointments, which will be reviewed at least every five years by the Faculty Senate as a whole. Senators elected as assistant professors who then receive tenure will serve out their full three-year term. A person cannot run for more than one position concurrently.

 

Current representation is as follows:

Tenure track

 

        Engineering (any rank):

4

        Jones (any rank):

2

        Architecture (any rank):

1

        Music (any rank):

1

        Humanities (any rank):

5

        Social Sciences (any rank):

3

        Natural Sciences (any rank):

5

       Assistant Professor from

 

Humanities/Social Sciences

1

        Assistant Professor from

 

Natural Sciences/Engineering

1

       Assistant Professor from

 

Professional Schools

1

  (B)Non-tenure track

 

         Non-tenure track teaching faculty

1

         Non-tenure track research faculty

1

  (C) Non-elected

 

          Two appointed by President

 

            and approved by Senate

2

        President and Provost

 

            (ex officio)

2

        Total:

30

 

The President and Provost of the University shall be ex officio members of the Senate.

The Senate may amend its Constitution and by-laws by a two-thirds vote.

 

Eligibility for voting: In category (A) ("any rank" and "assistant professor" positions from the various Schools), eligible to vote for each position are all tenure-stream faculty in the relevant School(s). (E.g. all Humanities faculty are eligible to vote for the representatives of the Humanities "any rank", and all Faculty in the Professional Schools are eligible to vote for the "Assistant Professor from Professional Schools".)  For the "non-tenure track" positions (B), the class of those eligible to vote is the same as those eligible to serve.

 

Officers. At its first meeting in an academic year, the Senate will elect a Deputy Speaker, and if there is a vacancy, a Speaker. The term of the Speaker will be two years, and nominees must have served in the Senate for at least one year prior to election. The Speaker may not stand for re-election to that position for consecutive terms. If a Senator is elected Speaker in the third year of an elected term, then that term is extended for one year. The Deputy Speaker will have a term of one year, and may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.

 

The Speaker will preside at meetings of the Senate and will chair the Executive Committee. The Deputy Speaker will serve in place of the Speaker in the event of the latter's absence.

 

A staff person assigned to the Senate will record the minutes of the Senate and Executive Committee meetings. The Speaker, upon accepting the draft of the Senate minutes, will transmit it electronically to the members of the Senate for amendment, if any, and approval. Once approved, the minutes will be posted electronically at a site accessible to all Faculty. The minutes of the Executive Committee will be transmitted electronically to the Executive Committee, and, once approved, will also be posted electronically at a site accessible to all Faculty.

 

Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will set the agenda for each meeting of the Senate and will act on behalf of the Senate, other than on important matters, between meetings of the Senate. The agenda will be posted electronically at least one week prior to the meeting of the Senate. The Executive Committee will, at least once each year, meet to develop and propose to the Senate a strategy and plan for future issues that should come before the Senate in the current and future years. The Executive Committee of the Senate will appoint all Senate committees. The Executive Committee will periodically review the performance of the Senate's committees and will advise the Senate of any recommended changes in committee charges. It will also formulate and propose amendments of the Faculty Senate Constitution and by-laws for consideration by the Senate.

 

Of the eight members of the Executive Committee, two will be the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. At its first meeting of the academic year, after first electing Deputy Speaker (and Speaker, if needed), the Senate will elect six additional members to the Executive Committee. These elected members will have a term on the Executive Committee of two years, with a provision for staggered terms.

 

The Executive Committee will include among its members

  *  at least one Senator from the School of Natural Sciences

  *  at least one Senator from the School of Humanities

  *  at least one Senator from the School of Engineering

  *  at least one Senator from the School of Social Sciences

  *  at least one Senator from either the School of Management, the School of Music, or the School of Architecture.

 

All remaining elected members will be elected at large by the Faculty Senate.

 

 

Meetings and Operation of the Senate. Meetings of the Senate will be conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order. Senate meetings will be chaired by the Speaker. At its first meeting in each academic year, the Senate will elect a Parliamentarian, who may or may not be an elected member of the Senate. Votes may be cast solely by the elected members of the Senate, and the Speaker will vote only to make or break a tie in the tally of votes cast. Votes will be recorded and made available to the University community.

 

Meetings of the Senate are normally open to all members of the University Community, and members of the faculty who are not members of the Senate may be recognized by the Speaker to address the meeting.  The Senate may from time to time choose to meet in closed session, e.g. to preserve confidentiality in matters involving individuals. The schedule of Senate meetings for an academic year will be announced by the respective Executive Committee at the beginning of the academic year.

 

Matters ruled by the Speaker as important will require two ballots, held at successive meetings, for approval of motions. A simple majority of those voting is required to approve motions other than amendments of the Senate's Constitution and by-laws.

 

Elected members of the Senate may be represented at a meeting by a proxy who is a voting faculty member from the same School, and who will have a right to speak but not to vote. If a member is absent for more than two meetings in a year, the Executive Committee of the Senate may declare the member's position vacant.

 

Motions and other business may be brought to the Senate by any elected member or by a written petition presented to the Speaker from at least 25 voting members of the faculty. All items will be transmitted electronically to all faculty members at least one week prior to the meeting of the Senate at which they are to be discussed.

 

The President and Provost may address the Senate on any matter.

 

Appeals and Grievances Committee. The Executive Committee will nominate members of the Appeals and Grievances Committee, subject to the approval of the Faculty Senate. The Convener of Appeals and Grievances will be an elected member of the Senate.

 

Plenary Meetings of the Faculty. The Speaker, with the approval of the Executive Committee, may call meetings of the University Faculty in plenary session. The President may call meetings of the University Faculty in plenary session at will. These meetings will be chaired by the Speaker. These meetings would be intended as sounding boards on important, transcendent issues affecting the University. Any votes taken at such meetings would be advisory to the Senate. The agenda of such meetings will normally be distributed to all Faculty at least two weeks in advance of the meeting. 

In addition, a petition signed by 50 voting members of the faculty may require the Speaker to convene a meeting of the University Faculty in plenary session to discuss a specific matter. If the voting members of the faculty present at a plenary session pass a motion, it will be submitted to the entire faculty for a vote. In such cases, voting on the matter will be carried out by ballots distributed to the entire voting faculty. The outcome of such a ballot vote of the entire voting faculty takes precedence over votes of the Senate in case of conflicts. The Senate may not amend the procedures outlined in this paragraph.

 

The Speaker will invite the President to make a "State of the University" address to the University Faculty each year.  Each academic year on the day prior to Spring Commencement, the Speaker will convene a meeting of the University Faculty to receive reports from the President, the Examinations and Standing Committee, and the Registrar, and will approve the candidates for graduation. A similar plenary meeting of the University faculty will be convened by the Speaker to approve the candidates for graduation in January or February.

 

 

 

Approved on February 2, 2005 first vote

Approved on February 28, 2005 - second vote