Senate Bylaws


Article I – Officers

Section 1

(a) The officers of the Senate shall be a Chair, a Chair-Elect, an Immediate Past Chair, and a Secretary.

(b) The Senate shall elect annually from among its elected faculty members a Chair-Elect and a Secretary from among members who are serving as elected faculty senators in the current Senate year. The Secretary shall be eligible for reelection, but shall serve no more than three consecutive one-year terms. The Chair-Elect, at the end of one year of service in that office, shall automatically succeed to the office of Chair. The Chair, at the end of one year of service in that office, shall automatically succeed to the office of Immediate Past Chair.

(c) If a senator’s term as representative of an academic voting unit expires while serving as Chair or Chair-Elect, and the senator is not reelected, that senator shall be permitted to succeed to the offices of Chair and/or Immediate Past Chair. While completing terms as Chair and Immediate Past Chair, the officer will have all the rights and privileges of a regular member of the Senate.

(d) When a vacancy occurs in the office of Immediate Past Chair, the elected members of the Senate Council shall elect a faculty member from among Past Chairs to complete the unexpired term. If a vacancy occurs in the office of Chair, the Chair-Elect will move immediately into the office, complete the unexpired term, and continue through a full term as Chair. When a vacancy occurs in the office of Chair-Elect, the elected Secretary of the University Faculty Senate shall, within no more than thirty days of notification of the vacancy, convene a meeting of the Nominating Committee for the purpose of presenting nominees to fill the unexpired term of the Chair-Elect. The Nominating Committee, acting under the procedures enumerated in the Standing Rules, Article I, Section 11 (c), shall present at least two nominees to fill the vacancy. These nominees shall be announced at the next meeting of the Senate. At this time, additional nominations may be made from the floor of the Senate. The Elections Commission shall then conduct a special election to fill the vacancy. The special election shall be conducted in the manner enumerated in the Standing Rules, Article I, Section 1 (b). The name of the new Chair-Elect shall be announced at the next Senate meeting. The new Chair-Elect shall complete the unexpired term and succeed to the office of Chair. If a vacancy occurs in the office of Secretary, the elected members of the Senate Council shall elect a senator to complete the unexpired term.

(e) Utilizing all four Senate Officers and two additional Faculty Senators by Chair appointment, the Chair of the Senate shall determine appropriate committee assignments for Faculty Senators serving on the Board of Trustees, subject to continuing invitation by the Board of Trustees.

Section 2

(a) The Chair shall be the presiding officer of the Senate and shall appoint a faculty member as Parliamentarian who shall not vote unless otherwise entitled.

(b) The Chair, after consultation with the other Senate officers and the President of the University, shall have the authority to declare the existence of a situation of special Senate concern and convene the Senate Council. If the Senate Council acts on behalf of the Senate, the Chair shall also convene a special meeting of the Senate within a week following the announcement unless a regular meeting of the Senate is scheduled within that period. At either the special or a regular meeting of the Senate, the Chair shall report the actions taken under authority of Article II, Section 1, below, and the Senate shall then take appropriate action.

Section 3

The Chair-Elect shall convene the officers and the chairs of the Standing Committees of the Senate before each Senate meeting for the purpose of exchanging information on committee activities and advising the officers. The Chair-Elect shall also assume the duties of the Chair in the absence of the Chair.

Section 4

The Immediate Past Chair shall serve on the Faculty Advisory Committee to the President and shall also assume the duties of the Chair when the Chair and Chair-Elect are both absent.

Section 5

The Secretary shall keep the official roll, shall prepare and publish notices, agenda, and minutes of Senate meetings, and shall perform other duties appropriate to the office. The Secretary, in consultation with other Senate Officers, shall review and disseminate issues of concern from the Senate Discussion Forum to the Senate Council.

Section 6

Any officer of the Senate may be removed for neglect of duty or for misconduct in office in accordance with procedures for removal in the Standing Rules, Article I, Section 11 (b).

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Article II – Senate Council

Section 1

Duties:

(a) It shall ensure that the Senate addresses issues of major concern to the faculty voting units and the faculty as a whole.

(b) It may initiate Senate legislation in the same manner as a standing committee. In addition, it may charge a standing committee of the Senate to investigate matters deemed appropriate by the Council.

(c) It shall provide a mechanism for Council members’ review of all legislative, forensic, advisory/consultative, and informational reports submitted for the Senate Agenda. If Council determines the report is adequately prepared, it will be submitted to the Senate Agenda with the following options:

1. Place an informational report, mandated or otherwise, on the Senate Agenda for presentation and discussion.
2. Place an informational report, mandated or otherwise, on the Senate Agenda only for the purposes of dissemination to the Senate and University community.

Decision on whether an item is to be placed on the Agenda for full Senate discussion is to be based on whether a report is adequately prepared and documented.

(d) It shall advise, upon consultation with appropriate Senate committees, the President and Executive Vice President and Provost of the University on the establishment, reorganization, or discontinuation of organizational units and areas of the University that involve two or more teaching, research, and continuing education functions (whether or not delegation of authority exists). Such advice should be given before official action is taken.

(e) It shall maintain a standing Constitution Subcommittee with authority and responsibility to carry out specific legislative, advisory and consultative functions relative to properly organized faculty organizations. These functions include review of Unit Constitutions, Bylaws and Standing Rules. The subcommittee will consist of two Council members appointed by the Senate Chair and the Senate Parliamentarian, and will be chaired by the Senate Secretary.

(f) In coordination with the University administration, it shall represent the Senate in seeking information from officials and agencies external to the University especially those who establish policies and control resources affecting University academic programs. It shall advise the University administration on external government legislation and other external issues that may have impact on the University. It shall advise the Senate on the preparation of statements on such matters. It shall be the Senate advisory body to the University on public and alumni relations, public information, general publications and private fundraising. The Chair shall be the spokesperson for the Council in these matters.
The External Matters Subcommittee is a standing subcommittee of Senate Council that will be charged to deal with issues external to the University. The subcommittee will consist of at least five Council members together with appropriate additional elected faculty senators and resource personnel and will be chaired by the Immediate Past Chair of the Senate. A majority of the subcommittee will be councilors with at least two members from locations other than University Park. The members of the External Matters Subcommittee will serve terms of two years, and may complete the second year of the term even in cases where they are no longer a member of Senate Council.

(g) It shall serve as an advisory body to the Senate officers and the Senate as a whole.

(h) In the event that the Chair of the Senate declares existence of a situation of special Senate concern, the Senate Council shall be empowered to act for the Senate in all matters until this authority is terminated by actions of the Senate.

(i) Individual Senate Council members play a critical role in communicating Faculty Senate issues and legislative decisions back to their units of origin.  To facilitate these important communications, best practices for Senate Councilors include organizing caucuses with their unit membership, creating regular electronic communications of Senate activities and sending these communications to their Academic Unit Faculty Leaders, Senators and Administrators, and speaking about Faculty Senate activities at unit governance meetings.  It is expected that Senate Councilors will embrace their leadership role and actively serve as a communication conduit back to the academic unit they represent.

Section 2

The Senate Council shall include:

(a) The Senate officers, with the Chair presiding.

(b) One faculty senator elected from and by the elected faculty senators of each academic unit entitled to four or more elected faculty senators. One faculty senator elected by and among the elected faculty senators of other voting units at University Park, Dickinson Law, Penn State Law, and Great Valley. One faculty senator elected from and by the elected faculty senators of the campuses of the University College. One student senator elected from and by the elected student senators. All elections to the Senate Council shall be for terms of one year. A member of Senate Council unable to attend a meeting may send another elected senator from the member’s voting unit to represent the unit and vote.

(c) In the event of a vacancy among the elected members of the Council, the electing body shall elect a replacement.

(d) The elected members of the Faculty Advisory Committee shall participate, without vote, in Senate Council deliberations.

(e) The President and the Executive Vice President and Provost of the University may attend Senate Council meetings at their own discretion.

Section 3

The Senate Council shall be convened by the Chair of the Senate at least as often per annum as the Senate.

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Article III – Election to the Senate

Section 1

Election to the Senate by members of the University faculty in each voting unit shall be as follows:

(a) Nominations shall be made by members of the University faculty. The procedures shall provide that every member of the electorate shall have the opportunity to place names in nomination.

(b) While it is recommended that there be at least twice as many nominations as there are senators to be elected, there must be no fewer than one-and-one-half times the number of senators to be elected.

(c) Election shall be by secret ballot.

Section 2

The Elections Commission shall review annually and adjust, if necessary, the number of senators to be elected from each voting unit, based on the distribution of the University faculty as of the preceding November 1.

Section 3

Two retired faculty senators will be elected according to the following procedures. The Senate office will obtain from the Office of Human Resources a list of retired faculty members. That list will be cross-checked with lists of faculty who served on the University Faculty Senate prior to retirement. From the list of former senators, the Committee on Committees and Rules will develop a list of potential nominees, and the Executive Director will then contact the individuals to ask if they would stand for election to the Senate. A ballot will be established with the individual former senators (the order of names on the ballot will be determined by random selection) who have consented to serve. This ballot will also have a line marked “Other” for write-in votes so that other members of the retired population can be included in the voting. The ballot will be made available to all retired faculty. A simple plurality vote will determine the winner. In the case of a tie, the Committee on Committees and Rules will determine the winner by a coin toss. One Retired Senator will serve on the Committee on Faculty Benefits and one will serve on a standing Senate committee of the retired faculty senator’s choosing. The term of office will be four (4) years. If a retired senator cannot fulfill his/her term, the alternate from the last election will be appointed to do so. The elected retired faculty will be full voting members of the Senate.

Section 4

Student senators shall be nominated and elected according to such procedures as the Elections Commission of the Senate may establish.

If a student senator is unable to attend a meeting of the University Faculty Senate, an alternate may substitute for the senator at the plenary meeting of the Faculty Senate. The alternate may also substitute for the senator at the senator’s committee meeting being held on the same day. The Senate office must be provided with the name of the alternate senator prior to the first full meeting of the Senate year. The alternate senator must notify the Senate office prior to attending the meeting in order to receive the same voting privileges as the senator for whom he/she is substituting for the day.

Section 5

The names of newly elected and newly appointed senators to serve during the following year shall be reported to the Senate office by the first Friday in February in order to be reported to the Senate at the last regular meeting of the academic year.

Section 6

An elected senator who is engaged in any type of professional activity making it impossible to carry out Senate responsibilities for a period exceeding three consecutive months, excluding June, July and August, may resign if he or she wishes, but otherwise shall be replaced by an alternate to fill the period of time that the senator will be absent from the Senate.

Section 7

In case an elected faculty senator is unable to complete the elected term, the University faculty of the senator’s voting unit shall identify a replacement in the following manner: In addition to identifying an elected senator for each vacant seat, regular Senate elections shall identify at least the highest ranking alternate, that is, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes of those not elected. If more than one alternate is identified, the alternates’ names should be submitted in order of rank, based on the number of votes. The names of the winner(s) and all of the alternate(s) shall be reported directly to the Senate office. First choice for replacement is to be the highest ranking alternate, as identified in the most recent regular Senate election; if the highest ranking alternate is not available, then the choice will move to all remaining alternates, in order of their rank by vote. If no alternates are available from the most recent regular Senate election, then the University faculty of the voting unit shall hold a special election to identify a new elected senator, who will complete the unfinished term. This same procedure shall be followed in the replacement of committee members elected at-large by the Senate.

Section 8

Duties of Senators:

a) Attend the Senate plenary meetings. If a senator is absent from three or more plenary meetings in each of two consecutive years, the senator may resign if he or she wishes, otherwise the Senate will remove the senator and require the unit to replace that senator with an alternative representative. This provision does not pertain to sabbatical, medical, or other leaves of absence, or otherwise absence related to professional responsibilities.

b) Attend the assigned standing committee meetings.

c) Communicate with their unit faculty governance organization pertaining to the activities of the Senate.

Section 9

All elections of the Senate shall be supervised by an Elections Commission consisting of the Secretary of the Senate and four other elected faculty senators selected by the Committee on Committees and Rules.

Section 10

In cases in which a voting unit or geographic location has only one faculty senator, if that senator is unable to attend a meeting of the University Faculty Senate, an alternate may substitute for the senator at the plenary meeting of the Faculty Senate. The alternate may also substitute for the senator at the senator’s committee meeting being held on the same day. The substitute must be identified on the Senate office’s list as an alternate for the voting unit or geographic location and must notify the Senate office in order to receive the same voting privileges as the senator for whom he/she is substituting for the day.

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Article IV – Committees

Section 1

The Senate shall determine its committee structure and composition with only the following stipulations:
(a) Any University personnel or any student of the University may be appointed to a committee.
(b) Chairs of Standing Committees must be elected faculty senators.
(c) A majority of the voting membership of a Senate standing or special committee must be elected faculty senators.

Section 2

Persons who are appointed to committees and standing subcommittees who are also members of the University Faculty Senate have full voting privileges on the committee or subcommittee on which they serve whether elected faculty, ex-officio, student, or appointed senators.

Section 3

All members of Standing Committees who are not members of the Senate shall have nonvoting privileges of the floor when the subject of discussion pertains specifically to the work of their respective committees.

Section 4

Direct consultation between Senate committees and other instrumentalities of the Senate and members of the administration, faculty, and student body of the University is encouraged subject to Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution.

Section 5

Any legislative or non-legislative report approved by a committee at the last meeting of one Senate year shall be presented to Senate Council and if approved for the Agenda will be presented to the Senate at the beginning of the next Senate year without review by the new committee.

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Article V Meetings

Section 1

Regular meetings of the Senate shall be held at least three times per semester during the academic year at times and dates decided upon by Senate Council, except as provided in Section 4 of this Article.

Section 2

Upon the request of the President of the University, the Chair shall convene the Senate.

Section 3

The Chair shall convene the Senate in response to a written petition of at least fifty members of the University faculty to consider proposals of the petitioners stated in writing, providing the petition contains:

(a) statement of purpose of petition and

(b) names of five faculty members designated to meet with the Senate Council.

The five designated faculty members will review the issue substantively with the Senate Council before the special meeting of the Senate.

Section 4

Any regular meeting of the Senate may be cancelled (as long as the provisions of Section 1 are met) or scheduled for a new date in either of the following ways: (a) by a majority vote of the members present at any Senate meeting (at which a quorum is present) or (b) by a two-thirds vote of the total voting membership of the Senate Council. In case of emergency the Senate Chair, after consulting with the other Senate officers, may postpone any Senate meeting for no longer than three weeks unless the Senate Council subsequently acts as specified earlier in this section.

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Article VI – Quorum

Section 1

A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of fifty (50) senators.


Article VII – Delegation of Authority

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Section 1

Authority for functions of the Senate as defined in Article I, Section 1, of the Constitution may be delegated in whole or in part to appropriately organized faculty bodies upon recommendation of the Senate Council and approval by the Senate in accordance with Article X, Section 1, of the Bylaws. Such delegation shall be limited to those functions appropriate to the faculty body concerned, and such delegations shall be specified in succeeding sections of this Article and shall be established in accordance with Article X, Section 1, of the Bylaws as interpreted by Senate Council. Legislative actions and minutes of all bodies to which authority has been delegated under Article VII shall be forwarded to the Chair of the Senate. Where appropriate, actions will be transmitted to the President following established procedures. The Executive Director is charged with assuring that review and transmittal to the Chair is made.

Section 2

The faculty of the Graduate School, as represented by the Graduate Council, is delegated authority for the interests of the Graduate School except in those matters that have University-wide implications; it shall administer its own affairs subject to review by the Senate.

(a) The review process shall include a report of actions of the Graduate Council to the Senate through the Senate Council. On special motion of the Senate Council, any of those actions may be placed on the agenda of the Senate for appropriate action.

(b) The Senate Council will provide for liaison with the Graduate Council.

(c) The Dean of the Graduate School shall present an annual report to the University Faculty Senate.

Section 3

The faculty of the College of Medicine, as represented by the faculty organization of the College of Medicine, is delegated authority for the approval of 700-level courses and their content taken by medical students in the medical curriculum and by physician assistant students in the Physician Assistant Master’s Program. This delegation of authority is subject to review by the Senate. The review process shall include the submission of all 700-level courses to the Curriculum Coordinator for inclusion on the Senate Curriculum Report and will be subject to the same hold and approval procedures as those listed in The Guide to Curricular Procedures.

Section 4

The faculty of Dickinson Law and Penn State Law are delegated responsibility respectively, for the approval and content of courses (900-level courses) taken by law students in the law curriculum. This delegation of responsibility is subject to review by the University Faculty Senate. The review process shall include the submission of all 900-level courses to the Curriculum Coordinator for inclusion on the Senate Curriculum Report (Blue Sheet) and will be subject to the same hold and approval procedures as those listed in The Guide to Curricular Procedures.

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Article VIII – Referenda

Section 1

The Senate may conduct referenda of the University faculty to obtain information concerning any subject under its purview.

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Article IX Rules of Procedure

Section 1

The Senate shall establish its rules of procedure.

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Article X – Amendments

Section 1

Amendments of the Bylaws may be adopted at any meeting of the Senate by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of those senators present, provided that the amendments shall have been presented in writing at a preceding regular meeting.

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