Senate Constitution

The new Constitution for the University Faculty Senate was approved by the President of the University and adopted by Faculty Referendum of March 27, 1971, to become effective on June 1, 1971. Since that date other major changes were made in May 1975 and April 1993.

All changes in this printing are as approved by the Senate as of April 28, 2015.


Article I – Functions

Section 1

The University Faculty Senate shall have the following functions:

(a) Legislative

To serve as the sole legislative body representing the University faculty as a whole. Its actions shall be authoritative on all matters that pertain to the educational interests of the University (graduate and undergraduate resident instruction, research, and continuing education) and on all educational matters that concern the faculties of more than one college, subject, after consultation, to revision and orders of the president of the University. Among the matters within the legislative jurisdiction of the Senate are:

(1) instructional program

(2) courses and programs of study

(3) academic admissions standards

(4) retention and graduation requirements

(5) University-wide unspecified scholarships, honors programs, and honors designation

(6) academic standards for intercollegiate athletic participation

(7) access to library and information systems for academic purposes.

(b) Advisory and Consultative

To act as an advisory and consultative body, both through its corporate whole and any of its constituent parts, to the President on any matter that may affect the attainment of the educational objectives of the University, such as:

(1) the establishment, reorganization, or discontinuation of organizational units and areas of instruction or research

(2) policies concerning the planning of physical facilities when these may affect the attainment of the educational objectives of the University

(3) policies and administration of the Libraries of the University

(4) policies affecting University development and utilization of resources

(5) matters pertaining to the general welfare of the University

(6) overall educational policy and planning, as they affect instruction, research, and service

(7) University calendar

(8) faculty affairs including academic personnel

(9) regulations affecting students

(10) general admissions policy

(11) other appropriate matters.

Consultation with Senate committees or officers does not constitute formal action or approval by the Senate.

(c) Forensic

To serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas among the members of the University Faculty Senate.

(d) Informational
To receive and disseminate information to the Senate and the University that is deemed important by the Senate or its committees.

(e) Recognition
To recognize or honor those individuals, organizations, or institutions the Senate deems worthy of special recognition by the University Faculty Senate. Such courtesy actions normally shall originate from Senate Council or the Senate officers.

Section 2

The Senate shall interpret its legislation.

Section 3

In case of question of legislative jurisdiction, the power of decision shall rest with the President of the University in line with the requirement of the Board of Trustees that the faculty, as appropriately organized as the University Faculty Senate, shall have certain authorities.

Section 4

The Senate shall have the authority to re-delegate authority in the areas listed in Section 1, according to such procedures as the Senate may establish.

Senate committees are authorized to act for and in the name of the Senate as specified in the Standing Rules. Such actions shall be reported promptly to the Senate and will stand unless the Senate, upon receiving such a report, takes jurisdiction of the matter for further consideration.

Senate committees may serve as advisory bodies to administrative officials. Reports made by committees shall not be considered to be or identified as reports of the Senate unless they have been approved by the Senate.

Section 5

Guests of the Senate and members of the University community who are not members of the Senate shall have the right to attend Senate meetings as observers and may be granted the privilege of the floor in accordance with rules established by the Senate.

back to top


Article II – Membership

Section 1

For the purpose of defining the electorate of the Senate, the term “University faculty” shall mean all persons who hold full-time academic appointments, and who hold one of the following ranks: Lecturer, Instructor, Senior Lecturer, Senior Instructor, Research Assistant, Senior Research Assistant, Senior Scientist, Research Associate, Senior Research Associate, Professor of Practice, Assistant Librarian, Associate Librarian, Librarian, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor with the following exclusions:
(a) The President’s immediate staff;
(b) The immediate staff of the Executive Vice President and Provost, including Vice Provosts and Associate and Assistant Vice Provosts;
(c) Other Vice Presidents, including Associate and Assistant Vice Presidents, Academic Deans and Chancellors;
(d) Those holding affiliate academic appointments.
(e) Faculty members of the Pennsylvania College of Technology are not included in the electorate of the University Faculty Senate.

Section 2

The Senate shall be elected by the University faculty from among its members, except for ex officio, student, and appointed members as provided in Section 5. All members of the Senate shall have full voting rights.

Section 3

For the purpose of electing senators, the University faculty shall be divided into the following groups, hereinafter referred to as academic voting units:

(a) Each college/unit at University Park

(b) Penn State Abington

(c) Penn State Altoona

(d) Penn State Berks

(e) Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

(f) Penn State Great Valley

(g) Penn State Harrisburg, The Capital College

(h) Dickinson Law

(i) Penn State Law

(j) University Libraries at University Park. All members of the University Libraries at locations other than University Park who fit the definition of the Senate Electorate are included in the Senate Electorate and census for that particular location

(k) College of Medicine

(l) The Combined Departments of Military Science at University Park. All members of the Departments of Military Science at locations other than University Park who fit the definition of the Senate Electorate are included in the Senate Electorate and census for that particular location
(m) Each campus of the University College

(n) Such groupings as may be designated, according to such procedures as the Senate may establish

(o) The academic voting units shall elect their senators at-large rather than as representatives of smaller units wtihin the academic voting units, except at multi-campus units. In the case of a multi-campus unit, the academic voting unit itself shall determine the method of allocations Senate seats within that unit, provided that each geographic location is represented by at least one senator. The method of allocating Senate seats must be approved by Senate Council.

Each faculty member shall be counted in one, and only one, academic voting unit. Members of the University faculty who are not included in one of the above units (described in a-m of this section of the Constitution) may petition for assignment to an academic voting unit, according to procedures as the Senate may establish.

Section 4

The University Faculty Senate will be set at a fixed size of 200 elected faculty seats. Each unit (as defined in Section 3) will initially be allocated one elected faculty Senate seat. Remaining Senate seats, up to the total size, will be allocated proportionately to each academic unit based on the ratio of full-time faculty in each unit to the total of all full-time faculty. No academic unit may have more than 15 percent of the elected faculty senators. Seats will be allocated on the basis of the Senate census preceding the election. The University faculty of each unit shall elect their senators. The normal term of elected faculty senators shall be four years. One-fourth of the total number, as nearly as practicable, of faculty senators from each voting unit shall be elected each year. The Elections Commission may, on request, permit the voting unit to elect a senator for a term of less than four years.

Section 5

(a) The following persons shall be ex officio members of the Senate: the President of the University; the Executive Vice President and Provost of the University; the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School; the Chair of the Academic Leadership Council; the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education; the University Registrar; the Executive Director, Division of Undergraduate Studies; and any elected member of the Faculty Advisory Committee who is not an elected faculty senator.

(b) The President may appoint other University personnel to membership in the Senate on an annual basis. The total number of appointed and ex officio members (not including any member of the Faculty Advisory Committee) shall not exceed a number equal to ten percent of the elected faculty senators.

(c) The full-time, degree-seeking students at the University shall be represented by student senators elected by their units and by two ex officio student senators from undergraduate student government organizations. Student senators shall be allocated as follows:

(1) One undergraduate student from each of the colleges at University Park

(2) One student from each of the following locations or units:

Penn State Abington
Penn State Altoona
Penn State Berks
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
Penn State Great Valley
Penn State Harrisburg , The Capital College
Dickinson Law
Penn State Law
Division of Undergraduate Studies
Graduate School
College of Medicine

(3) Two students from the University College

(4) Two leaders of undergraduate student government organizations, as follows:

(i) One representative of the University Park Undergraduate Association
(ii) One representative of the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments
(iii) Whenever comparable units are added to the University or created through reorganization, each new unit shall elect one student senator. The term of a student senator shall be one year.

(d) The retired faculty of the University shall be represented by two elected retired faculty senators.

Section 6

An Executive Director appointed by the Provost of the University after recommendation by the Senate officers shall carry out staff functions, manage the Senate office, and support and facilitate the Senate in the performance of its duties. The Executive Director shall be responsible to the Senate Chair. A review of the Executive Director will be conducted every five years by the Senate Chair. The Executive Director shall be nonvoting but shall have the privileges of the floor.

back to top


Article III – Amendments

Amendments of the Constitution consistent with directives of the Board of Trustees may be adopted at any meeting of the University Faculty Senate by a two-thirds vote of those senators present, provided that the amendment shall have been presented in writing in a preceding regular meeting. Such amendments shall not be in effect until they have been approved by the President.

back to top