Faculty Senate Constitution

Revised February 8, 2024

The Faculty Senate of Georgetown University has been established for the purpose of ensuring full faculty participation in matters of general University interest by sharing responsibility with the University Board of Directors and Administration in the conduct of University affairs.

1. Functions of the Senate

  1. The Senate shall have authority to discuss and express its views on any matter of general University interest, and to make recommendations to the President and Board of Directors, and to the University faculty.
  2. The Senate shall discharge its functions as a body or through committees or persons duly delegated to act for it.
  3. The Senate shall advise the President and Board of Directors on:
    1. Any proposed revision to the Faculty Handbook;
    2. Conditions of academic freedom and responsibility, including recommendations of desirable standards and grievance procedures;
    3. Standards for rank and tenure, including appointment and promotion procedures;
    4. Faculty governance policies and practices at the University level; and
    5. University-wide faculty sabbatical leave procedures and policies.
  4. The Senate may make recommendations about other matters, including, but not limited to:
    1. Appointment of the University President, Executive Vice Presidents of the campuses (the Main Campus, Medical Center, and Law Center), and Deans of schools;
    2. Procedures for the selection of Department Chairs or heads of similar units;
    3. Tracks or frameworks for non-tenureline faculty;
    4. Faculty governance policies and practices at the campus or school level;
    5. The University’s budget, financial status, and financial policies, informed by examination of the University’s financial statements and plans;
    6. Grants and gifts of general University interest;
    7. Faculty research grant procedures and policies;
    8. Faculty and staff salaries, retirement plans, and fringe benefits;
    9. Facilities, including physical campus plans;
    10. University convocations;
    11. Honorary degrees; and
    12. Educational and student affairs of general interest.

2. Membership

  1. The Senate shall be composed of the following voting members:
    1. Seventy-five faculty members elected by the campuses, as set out in paragraph 2.b below;
    2. One designee appointed by the University President;
    3. Seven administrative office-holders:
      1. The Executive Vice Presidents of the three campuses;
      2. The Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences;
      3. One Dean from the Medical Center selected by the EVP; and
      4. Two Main Campus School Deans, selected annually by the Main Campus Council of Deans.
      5. The administrative officers may send designees to act in their place.
  2. Main Campus faculty shall elect 41 members of the Senate from the Main Campus, the Medical Center faculty shall elect 24 members from the Medical Center, and the Law Center faculty shall elect 10 members from the Law Center.

3. Eligibility

  1. All faculty members with full-time non-visiting appointments shall be eligible to vote in elections for the Senate, and to serve as members of the Senate, provided they are either employed by the University or appointed to a Scholar or Educator track for non-employees.
  2. Professional librarians are considered faculty members of their respective campuses for purposes of this Constitution.
  3. Eligibility is not terminated by leaves of absence.

4.  Election Procedure

  1. Elections shall be held annually on each campus during the spring semester to fill vacant or expiring seats in the Senate.
  2. Nominations for election to the Senate shall be in writing and bear the signatures of the nominee and five other qualified voters from the nominee’s campus.
  3. Within the Main Campus and the Law Center, the candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be considered elected up to the number of vacant and expiring seats for that campus. A tie shall be decided by lot.
  4. Within the Medical Center, elections shall be held by faculty groups or at large as specified in the Bylaws adopted by its Caucus. If elections are by groups, the Caucus Bylaws shall specify the number and definition of groups and the number of Medical Center Senate members allocated to each group. Nominations must bear the signatures of the nominee and five other qualified voters from the nominee’s group. Within each group, the candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be considered elected up to the number of vacant and expiring seats for that group. A tie shall be decided by lot.

  5. The Senate Vice President from each campus shall appoint annually the election officer(s) for that campus. It shall be the duty of the election officer(s) to certify qualified voters, to receive nominations, and to certify winning candidates.

5. Terms

  1. The term for elected members of the Senate shall be three years beginning September 1st.
  2. When a Senate vacancy occurs between elections, either temporarily due to sabbaticals or leaves of absence or permanently because of retirement, resignations or other causes, the vacancy shall be filled from the same campus by the runner-up in the most recent Senate election. When there is no runner-up or when the runner-up is unable or unwilling to serve, the vacancy shall be filled by the campus Caucus.

6. Officers and Steering Committee

  1. The Officers of the Faculty Senate are the President, a Vice President from each campus, and a Secretary-Treasurer. Only members of the Senate are eligible to serve as Officers.
  2. The Senate Officers will serve three-year terms, beginning September 1. The President and Secretary-Treasurer will have a limit of two consecutive full terms.
    1. At the end of their term, the Senate shall elect Officers from its membership at the first regular meeting following election of new Senators.
    2. In the event that a vacancy occurs, there shall be a special election to complete the remainder of the Officer’s term.
    3. In either case, a Nominating Committee shall be appointed by the Steering Committee subject to confirmation by the Senate. Nominations for these Officers may be made by the Nominating Committee and/or from the floor.
  3. The Steering Committee shall be composed of the following voting members:
    1. The Senate Officers;
    2. The University President’s designee;
    3. The campus Executive Vice Presidents;
    4. Other members appointed by the Senate Officers and the University President’s designee, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

    The EVPs may send a designee to Steering Committee meetings to act in their place.

  4. The Senate President serves as a channel of communication between the University administration and the Steering Committee, chairs the Steering Committee, sets the annual schedule for Senate and Steering Committee meetings, and manages the Senate budget and administrative staff. The Senate President may delegate a Senate Vice President or the Secretary-Treasurer to act temporarily in their place.
  5. The Secretary-Treasurer is responsible for preparing minutes of Senate and Steering Committee meetings and ensuring that they are properly approved and recorded. The Senate President may delegate management of the Senate budget to the Secretary-Treasurer.
  6. The Steering Committee shall have the following authority:
    1. To serve as a channel of communication between the administration and the faculty regarding issues of general University interest.
    2. To receive communications from any member of the University community concerning matters to be put upon the agenda of the Senate;
    3. To establish the agenda for Senate meetings, excepting that:
      1. Any member of the Senate may, at a meeting of the Senate, ask the body to discuss a particular matter;
      2. Any member of the University community may ask the body to discuss a matter during an open forum portion of the meeting set in the agenda.
    4. Subject to confirmation by the Senate, to appoint and charge standing and special committees of the Senate. While the Steering Committee shall refer matters to committees, the committees are free to consider additional matters within their charge on their own initiative.
    5. To nominate, subject to confirmation by the Senate:
      1. One member to the executive faculties (the principal academic policy-making bodies) of the campuses and schools, unless the campus caucus or school faculty is the policy-making body;
      2. One member to other standing and special faculty committees whose jurisdiction and membership are university-wide;
      3. Two members to faculty committees established by the University President, including search committees for Executive Vice Presidents and School Deans; and
    6. To call special meetings of the Senate.

7. Senate Meetings

  1. Senate meetings are chaired by the Senate President, or by another Senate officer designated by the Senate President.
  2. A quorum shall consist of 40 percent of the membership of the Senate attending in person or electronically. Business may be conducted in the absence of a quorum unless a quorum is called by any member of the Senate.
  3. Only voting members who are in attendance in person or electronically may vote on motions made during a meeting. Proxy and absentee voting is not permitted, except that designees acting in place of voting administrative officers may vote.
  4. Senate meetings are open to all members of the University community.
  5. Special meetings shall be convened by the Senate President upon written request by ten Senate members, or upon request from the University President or an Executive Vice President.
  6. Unless there is an emergency, meetings shall be called at least two weeks before the date of the meeting; the call shall be in writing and contain the proposed agenda.

8. Campus Caucuses

The Senate members elected by each campus, and any other faculty appointed by those members, form the campus Caucus.

  1. The Senate Vice President of each campus shall call and chair meetings of its Caucus unless the Caucus elects another chair.
  2. The Caucuses shall establish their own agendas.

9. Faculty Meetings

  1. The Senate President may call and chair university-wide faculty meetings, and must do so on receipt of a petition from forty full-time members of the faculty.
  2. The Vice-Presidents of each campus may call and chair meetings of their campus faculty, and must do so on receipt of a petition from twenty-five full-time members of their campus faculty.

10. Rules of Order

  1. The Senate, as well as its Steering Committee, Caucuses, and appointed committees, shall establish and may amend rules of procedure not specified in this Constitution by majority vote.
  2. In matters not regulated by this Constitution or by the rules of procedure established by the relevant body, meetings of the Senate, its Steering Committee, Caucuses, and appointed committees shall be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order Revised. The chair or presiding officer of the body may appoint a parliamentarian.

11. Amendment Procedure

Amendments to the Constitution shall become effective after having been:

  1. Approved by two-thirds of the members present and voting at a meeting of the Senate;
  2. Submitted for a vote via secret ballot to all faculty with full-time non-visiting appointments, and approved on each campus by a majority of those voting; and
  3. Approved by the University President and Board of Directors.