Part 5: The Faculty Assembly
(SECTION V OF THE GOVERNANCE MANUAL)
Saint Mary's College endorses the fundamental concept of shared governance through the inclusion of faculty and student participation in the Board of Trustees, the committees of the Board of Trustees, and the councils and committees of the College administration. The faculty endorse this concept and participate fully in the shared governance of the College. In recognition of their autonomy and special responsibilities as officers of instruction, however, the faculty of the College have established their own governance body: the Faculty Assembly. One of the essential functions of the Assembly is to articulate, augment, and coordinate the faculty’s participation in the governance of the College.
The Faculty Assembly, by its charter, is an autonomous faculty organization. The Assembly is organized to furnish an ordered structure for the faculty as a body to carry out its governance responsibilities to College governance as members of the Faculty Assembly and as participants in the Board of Trustees, in the committees of the Trustees, and in the councils and committees of the College administration.
The Faculty Assembly’s membership consists of those faculty who hold academic rank and the professional librarians. Except for the Vice President and Dean of Faculty, faculty holding administrative appointments above the position of department chair are not members of the Faculty Assembly.
The Faculty Assembly provides:
- a forum in which faculty, free of administrative influence, can discuss and make recommendations on matters of concern to them;
- a body for the orderly initiation of change in College policy or procedure;
- a structure within which the faculty select their representatives to the committees of the Board of Trustees, the councils and committees of the College, the committees of the Faculty Assembly as well as faculty representatives for other special needs as they may arise;
- a body through which the faculty can establish structures and procedures as are necessary to discharge faculty governance responsibility;
- a body through which the faculty receive and act upon reports from the Board of Trustees, the Board of Trustees’ committees, the councils and committees of the College, the committees of the Faculty Assembly, and the administrative officers of the College;
- a channel of communication to the administration through which faculty may express their concerns;
- a structure for considering matters that are necessary to proper discharge of faculty responsibility as officers of instruction.
The faculty of Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, is obligated to contribute effectively to the realization of the objectives of this College as stated in the By-Laws of the Board of Trustees; therefore, it is organized into a Faculty Assembly.
The name of this organization is the Faculty Assembly of Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana.
The purpose of this organization is to furnish an ordered structure for the faculty as a body to carry out its responsibility as officers of instruction.
The Faculty Assembly consists of those persons who hold in Saint Mary’s College the academic rank of Instructor or higher, and the professional librarians of the College, but does not include those persons who hold administrative position higher than department chair except for the Vice President and Dean of Faculty. The Faculty Assembly may admit to membership persons who are not admitted by the preceding rule.
The Officers of the Faculty Assembly are the Chair, the Chair-Elect, and the Secretary.
The Chair serves as the presiding officer of the Faculty Assembly and Chair of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly. The Chair calls the Faculty Assembly into session and appoints ad hoc committees in accordance with provisions in Article VI of this Constitution.
The Chair-Elect, in the absence of the Chair or at the request of the Chair, serves as temporary Chair and/or presiding officer of the Faculty Assembly. The Chair-Elect also serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly.
The Secretary has the usual rights and duties pertaining to that office as well as serving as a member of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly. The Secretary, with the Executive Committee, prepares an official list of membership of the Faculty Assembly in accordance with the provisions of Article III of this Constitution.
The Chair-Elect serves a term of one year followed by a one-year term as Chair. The Secretary serves a one-year term. The regular term of office begins on the day following the College’s spring commencement. All member of the Faculty Assembly are eligible to hold office.
The Faculty Assembly serves as the forum in which the faculty transacts its business, receives and acts upon reports from its own committees, from its representatives on College councils and committees, from its representatives on committees of the Board of Trustees, and from its representatives on ad hoc committees. The Faculty Assembly provides an organization for discussion and formulation of decisions.
Decisions of the Faculty Assembly on pertinent matters are referred to the appropriate council or committee of the College, to officers of the College, or to the President for transmission to the Board of Trustees by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly or by the faculty representative elected to that council or committee.
The Faculty Assembly is responsible for electing faculty representatives to College councils and committees, and committees of the Board of Trustees.
The Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly consists of the Chair, the Chair-Elect, and the Secretary of the Assembly. The Chair of the Faculty Assembly serves as the Chair of the Executive Committee.
In the interim between Faculty Assembly meetings, the Executive Committee transacts the business of the Faculty Assembly. The Executive Committee must report its actions to the Faculty Assembly at the next meeting of the Faculty Assembly. The Executive Committee prepares an agenda for each Faculty Assembly meeting. The matters of business which are placed on the agenda may originate from the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly, from any member of the Assembly, from the President of the College, from other College administrative officers, from College committees or councils, and from student government. An item must be placed on the agenda if a petition requesting such action, signed by twenty-five percent of the Faculty Assembly membership, is presented to the Executive Committee.
The Faculty Affairs Committee consists of five members elected from the Assembly: one member from the area of Fine Arts (Art, Music, Communication and Theater, Physical Education), one from Sciences (Biology, Chemistry-Physics, Nursing, Mathematics), one from the Social Sciences (Psychology, Political Science, Sociology/Anthropology and Social Work, Business Administration and Economics, and Education), and two from the Humanities (one from Religious Studies, Philosophy, History, or Humanistic Studies, and one from English or Modern Languages). The normal term is three years. The Nominating Committee provides for the orderly rotation of the members so that no more than two of the members’ terms expire in the same year.
The Faculty Affairs Committee considers and makes recommendations regarding all matters relating to the professional development of the faculty. The committee considers matters of concern to the faculty which are not specifically delegated to other councils and committees. The members also serve as the faculty representatives on the Committee on Faculty Development Grants.
The Faculty Compensation Committee consists of three faculty members, one to be elected from each of the following ranks: Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor. The normal term is three years, with one term expiring each year.
This committee considers and makes recommendations regarding all matters concerning the economic status of the faculty.
The Nominating Committee of the Faculty Assembly consists of five members of the Faculty Assembly who are not officers of the Assembly. These members are elected to two-year terms and may not serve successive terms. They elect a chair from among their members.
The Nominating Committee prepares a slate of nominees for each election.
The Grievance Committee consists of five tenured members elected from the Faculty Assembly. The normal term is three years. The Nominating Committee provides for orderly rotation of the members so that no more than two of the members’ terms expire in the same year. If one or more members of the committee are unable to serve on a particular grievance case, substitutes are to be selected by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly from the group of past members of the Grievance Committee on a last served-first chosen basis until a committee of five impartial members is constructed.
This committee handles faculty grievances according to procedures approved by the Faculty Assembly. The committee considers and recommends procedures to the Faculty Assembly for handling faculty grievances.
The Chair, or in the absence of the Chair, the Chair-Elect appoints such ad hoc committees as needed or as requested by the Faculty Assembly.
The Faculty Assembly normally meets once a month during the academic year; the first meeting is held in August. The Annual Meeting is the last regular meeting of the Spring Semester.
A special meeting may be called by the Chair, or in the absence of the Chair by the Chair-Elect, or upon the written request of a quorum of the members of the Faculty Assembly. Any such request will be entered in the minutes of the Faculty Assembly.
The Chair designates the date, time, and place of Faculty Assembly meetings. The Secretary distributes the announcement of the meeting and the agenda to each member of the Faculty Assembly at least five days in advance.
No vote may be taken on a substantive issue at the meeting at which the matter is introduced unless the issue is specified in the agenda.
Faculty Assembly meetings will be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised.
Each member of the Faculty Assembly has one vote which must be cast in person, except where provision has been made for proxy or mail ballots.
Votes may be cast by proxy. For a proxy to be valid, it must be in writing, stating the name of the faculty member authorized to cast the vote, as well as the name of the one authorizing the proxy, and the date of the meeting for which the proxy is given. No faculty member may vote more than one proxy.
Votes may be cast by mail. If the Executive Committee or a majority of those present so request prior to the voting on a substantive issue, ballots may be cast by mail. Only ballots returned within one week of issuance are valid.
Forty percent of the membership, according to the current official membership list for the academic year, constitutes a quorum. Faculty on leave and faculty holding the rank of emerita/us are not included in determining the number required for a quorum. Members represented by proxies do not count toward a quorum.
The election of the officers of the Faculty Assembly, members of the Faculty Assembly committees, and faculty representatives on the committees of the Board of Trustees and the councils and committees of the College will take place at the Annual Meeting.
At least fifteen days in advance of the Annual Meeting, the Secretary distributes to the members of the Faculty Assembly a notice of the positions to be filled by election.
The slate, prepared by the Nominating Committee, is distributed to the members of the Faculty Assembly as an attachment to the agenda of the Annual Meeting. Each candidate must have accepted the nomination before the slate is published.
At the Annual Meeting, the Nominating Committee formally presents its candidates for the respective positions. Nominations from the floor are invited by the chair for each position to be filled and are accepted if the nominee agrees to the nomination.
Voting is by secret ballot. Votes may be cast by proxy, according to the procedure described for proxies in Article VII, Section 2. No mail ballots are allowed.
In order to be elected an officer of the Faculty Assembly, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast.
In the election of members for councils and committees, each member of the Faculty Assembly may vote for as many persons as there are openings on the council and committee. Those candidates receiving the largest number of votes are elected. In case of a tie for a position on a council or committee, there will be a run-off between the two top candidates.
Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of the Chair, the Chair-Elect serves as Chair for the unexpired term.
Whenever a vacancy occurs in any elected office other than the Chair, the Faculty Assembly elects a successor who serves for the balance of the unexpired term.
The Faculty Assembly may remove from office, committee membership, or faculty representation on College committees any elected faculty member who regularly fails to attend meetings of that committee or otherwise seriously neglects the responsibilities of that office. A two-thirds majority vote is required.
This Constitution may be amended by a vote of sixty percent of the entire membership of the Faculty Assembly taken at a meeting of the Faculty Assembly provided that the proposed changes have been presented in writing to the members of the Faculty Assembly at least one month in advance of that meeting. Provision must be made for absentee ballots. Faculty on leave and faculty holding rank of emerita/us are not included in determining the number of faculty required for the adoption of amendments.
This section presents a more detailed description of the Committees of the Faculty Assembly than is possible in a constitution. In particular this section emphasizes the procedures used by the committees in fulfilling their special responsibilities.
The Chair, Chair-Elect, and Secretary of the Faculty Assembly comprise the Executive Committee. The Faculty Assembly Chair serves as Chair of the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee:
- executes the articles of the Constitution of the Faculty Assembly;
- serves as informal advisor in cases involving dismissal for serious cause.
The procedures of the Executive Committee are determined by the Constitution of the Faculty Assembly or are approved by the Faculty Assembly for specific matters.
The Faculty Affairs Committee is comprised of five members elected from the Faculty Assembly each representing a constitutionally specified cluster of disciplines. The Chair is elected by the members of the committee. In order to facilitate communication on matters of joint concern, one member is designated as a liaison to the Faculty Compensation Committee.
The Faculty Affairs Committee:
- considers and makes recommendations regarding all matters relating to the professional development of the faculty;
- reports to the Executive Committee or to the full Assembly, as appropriate, results of considerations on all matters that have been referred to the committee by the Executive Committee or the Assembly;
- appoints faculty members from each academic building to a subcommittee charged with securing, designing, and overseeing lounge space for faculty; and organizing social events and other programs to enhance faculty life. One of these subcommittee members will be designated to the faculty lounge representative on the Madeleva Renovation Committee until that committee ceases to meet.
The procedures for the Faculty Affairs Committee are determined by the Constitution of the Faculty Assembly, or as approved by the Faculty Assembly for specific matters.
The Faculty Compensation Committee is comprised of three members elected from the Faculty Assembly, one from each of the following ranks: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. The Chair is elected by the members of the Committee
Faculty Compensation Committee:
- represent the faculty in all formal discussions concerning faculty compensation;
- prepares a report on the economic status of the faculty;
- makes annual recommendations for faculty compensation.
The procedures of the Faculty Compensation Committee are determined and approved by the Faculty Assembly on an annual basis.
The Nominating Committee is comprised of five members elected from the Faculty Assembly who are not officers of the Assembly. They are elected to two-year terms, may not serve successive terms, and elect a chair from the members of the Committee.
The Nominating Committee:
- recommends guidelines for consideration by the Faculty Assembly concerning the selection of candidates for elections;
- prepares a list of candidates for faculty elections;
- proposes election procedures to the Assembly when they are not otherwise specified;
- presents an annual report to the Executive Committee identifying areas of the College’s governance structure that is in need of review.
The procedures of the Nominating Committee are determined and approved by the Faculty Assembly on an annual basis.
The Grievance Committee is comprised of five tenured members elected from the Faculty Assembly. The Chair is elected by the members of the Committee. In the event that one or more members are unable to participate in the hearing of a case, substitute members for the hearing of that case are selected according to the substitution rule delineated in the section on general considerations.
The Grievance Committee:
- serves as a Hearing Committee in cases involving dismissal for serious cause;
- acts as a Grievance Committee, in this capacity the committee: ;
- publishes formal procedures for the conduct of its business;
- decides, after the aggrieved party has filed a written petition, whether the case merits a detailed investigation;
- acts as a mediating and investigating committee in all ordinary cases in which a faculty member alleges a grievance. A grievance is a harm incurred by a faculty member as a result of a decision improperly taken by or on behalf of the College, or as a result of unprofessional or improper conduct of one or more representatives of the College. Examples of ordinary cases of grievance include but are not limited to decision taken in such matters as salaries, assignment of teaching duties, assignment of space or other facilities, academic freedom and responsibility, and violations of the College’s commitment to the Equal Opportunity Act;
- acts as a mediating and investigating committee in matters involving an allegation of violation of academic freedom;
- acts as an investigating committee in matters arising out of a decision on the non-renewal of the contract of a non-tenured faculty member or on the granting of promotion or tenure where the grievance involves allegations of procedural irregularities or lack of adequate consideration;
- decides the schedule of priority at times when more than one petition or case is before the committee;
- keeps written records of the handling of each grievance petition;
- viii) presents to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly at the end of each academic year a report indicating the number, kinds, and disposition of cases that the committee dealt with; ordinarily, the report does not indicate specific details of the cases.
- informs the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly of any breakdown in cooperative relations between the Grievance Committee and any member of the College community which prevents the proper handling of a grievance petition;
- informs faculty members whose petitions for a hearing have been denied by the committee or who, as a party to a grievance, are dissatisfied with the findings of the committee that they may, after seeking the advice of the Executive Committee, bring the matter to the Faculty Assembly for action by that body. The committee may reply to charges that its findings are mistaken;
- refrains from discussing any aspect of the case with anyone who is not directly involved in the grievance proceedings for that case.
The procedures of the Grievance Committee are an adaptation of the procedures and policies of the American Association of University Professors described in their statements, “Statements on Procedural Standards in the Renewal or Non-renewal of Faculty Appointments,” and “Statement on Procedural Standards in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings,” and “1976 Recommended institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure” AAUP Policy Documents and Reports.
If faculty members feel that they have cause for grievance in any matter other than dismissal for serious cause or cases involving allegations of procedural irregularity or lack of adequate consideration in the nonrenewal of a faculty member’s contact, or cases involving tenure or promotion decisions, they may petition the Grievance Committee in writing for consideration. (Procedures for the excluded grievances are described in a subsequent section.) The petition must set forth in detail the nature of the grievance, state against whom the grievance is directed, and specify the nature of the remedy sought. It must contain any factual or other data which the petitioner deems pertinent to the case. It must contain any factual or other data which the petitioner deems to the case. It must also include a statement releasing the faculty member’s right of confidentiality to whatever records the College has which are pertinent to the conduct of the investigation. It is important to emphasize that this release cannot abrogate the confidentiality of other individuals or committees. The written petition must be received within thirty working days of the date on which the petitioner became aware that the situation was one that constituted a grievance.
Upon receipt of the grievance petition, the Grievance Committee will send written notification to the party against whom the grievance is directed that a grievance has been filed. In addition, the committee will seek written assurance from both parties that they have attempted to work the matter out between themselves. The parties will be allowed five working days to submit such written assurances to the committee.
After selection of substitute members (if necessary), the Grievance Committee will conduct a preliminary investigation of the petition. This investigation will involve interviews with the parties as well as the examination of pertinent written records. The committee will decide whether or not the facts merit the initiation of formal proceedings and will notify the petitioner in writing of its decision within 15 working days of the date on which the written petition is received.
- If the committee rejects the case, and if the petitioner accepts the committee’s decision, the case will be closed.
- If the committee rejects the case, the petitioner who disagrees with the decision may resubmit the petition within ten working days of the date that the committee’s written rejection is received. In resubmitting a petition, the petitioner must indicate the reasons for resubmission.
- If the committee rejects the petition a second time, the case is to be considered closed unless the petitioner, having first sought the advice of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly, brings the petition to the floor of the Faculty Assembly at the next possible meeting.
- If the committee decides to hear the case, it must, before initiating the formal proceedings, attempt to informally mediate the grievance.
Prior to the initiation of formal proceedings, the committee is to take no more than ten working days to settle the matter informally, working with both parties, singly or together, until either a settlement is reached or until it is clear that no settlement is possible by proceeding informally. At the end of this period, the committee must specify in writing, to the parties, the situation as it then exists. If a settlement has been reached, its precise character must be specified in writing and the letter signed by all parties involved.
If a settlement has not been reached, the committee begins formal proceedings.
- First, immediately upon its decision to hold formal hearings, the committee shall request: statements about what occurred or is occurring and why, as well as relevant documents such as relevant contracts, memoranda, letters, etc.
- Second, after notifying parties and witnesses, the committee shall within fifteen working days of the decision to hold a form hearing, hold closed hearings in which every party must present its case in the presence of the other. A faculty member who is one of the parties to a grievance may bring another member of the Saint Mary’s faculty to act as an advisory during the hearings.
- During the hearings:
- The chair of the committee must appoint one of the members involved in the formal hearing to act as hearing officer, with power to call those present to order (especially for misbehavior and dilatory tactics), and, for reasons of privacy or misbehavior, to excuse them from the hearings.
- Each side, in turn, shall present insofar as possible its full case, including witnesses and documents; with the permission of the hearing officer, members of the committee may interrupt to ask questions.
- Then each side will be permitted to question the witnesses of the other side and to reply to the arguments and evidence of the other side. With permission of the hearing officer, members of the committee may interrupt to ask questions.
Following the formal proceedings, the committee will then retire to make its recommendation, which it will report in writing to each party of the grievance within fifteen working days after the close of the hearings. If a recommendation to the President or the Faculty Assembly is warranted, the committee must make its findings known to either of them in special written report.
22.214.171.124.5. SPECIAL CASE GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES: PROCEDURAL IRREGULARITIES OR LACK OF ADEQUATE CONSIDERATION IN NON-RENEWAL OF A NON-TENURED MEMBER’S CONTRACT OR IN TENURE AND PROMOTION DECISION
In general, the procedures in such cases shall be the same as those described under general procedures with the following exceptions.
- GENERAL PROCEDURE The committee shall base its recommendation only on whether or not the procedural irregularities or lack of adequate consideration were of such a kind or degree to have damaged the petitioner’s opportunity to be rehired, promoted, or tenured.
- DEFINITION OF ADEQUATE CONSIDERATION Lack of adequate consideration does not mean that the Grievance Committee can substitute its judgment for that of the appropriate decision-making body on the merits of whether the petitioner should be reappointed, promoted, or granted tenure. As presented in various AAUP Policy Documents and Reports, the term “adequate consideration” refers primarily to procedural rather than substantive issues, and addresses questions such as: Was the decision conscientiously arrived at? Was all the available evidence bearing on the relevant performance of the petitioner sought out and considered? Was there adequate deliberation by the decision-making body over the import of the evidence in terms of the relevant standards of the institution? Were irrelevant and improper standards excluded from consideration? Was the decision a bonafide exercise of professional judgment?
- LIMITS OF COMMITTEE RESPONSIBILITIES The committee’s recommendation in such cases shall be either that the petitioner’s case be reheard or that it not be reheard.
- RECOMMENDATION The committee shall set forth its recommendations and the reasons for them in writing to the parties, and, if necessary, to the President.
The procedures utilized by the Grievance Committee acting as a Hearing Committee in cases involving dismissal for serious cause are delineated in Section III on Faculty Policies and Procedures: Termination of Services
- WORKING DAYS DEFINED “Working days” refers to those days of the year when the College is in session; it excludes weekends and vacations. At times when more than one case is current, parties to the grievance must bear in mind that the “working days” limits, set forth above, are subject to the committee’s need to set its own schedule of priorities. Where such accommodations are necessary, the Chair of the Grievance Committee must write a letter to all parties explaining the delay and setting forth a new timeline.
- FILES Except for a master copy, all files pertinent to a particular grievance case must be destroyed 180 working days after the final disposition of the case. Materials which have been received from the faculty member and those obtained from College files are to be returned to those from when they were received rather than destroyed. The master copy should remain in the possession of the Chair of the Grievance Committee for a period of not less than seven years, after which the master copy should be destroyed.
- SUBSTITUTION RULE Any member of the Grievance Committee who, as a matter of conscience, feels that an objective judgment is impossible in a particular case must request that a substitute be appointed for that case by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly. Substitutes are to be selected from the group of past members of the Grievance Committee on a last served-first chosen basis until a committee of five impartial members is constructed.
When the President is involved in a grievance matter, a final decision by the President which is contrary to the recommendations of the Grievance Committee should be made only in the exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be communicated to that committee. The Grievance Committee, f lowing such communication, has the opportunity for further transmittal of its views to the President.
RESOLVED: That reporters from the Observer be permitted to cover meetings of the Faculty Assembly except when excluded at the discretion of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly for any specific issue. (Approved, September 8, 1977)
RESOLVED: That the Vice Chair (note – Position is now Chair-Elect) of the Faculty Assembly assumes the responsibility for planning an orientation day for new faculty prior to the first day of class at the beginning of the academic year. The orientation will be designed to acquaint new faculty members with the campus facilities, academic and administrative policies, and other appropriate aspects of Saint Mary’s College and local South Bend communities. (Approved April 4, 1978)
RESOLVED: That recognizing interest in the business of the Faculty Assembly on the part of those who hold part-time appointments, but also recognizing that other commitments may interfere with their active participation in that business, the Assembly accords membership to any person holding in Saint Mary's College a part-time teaching or library appointment, excluding any who hold an administrative position higher than department chair except the Vice President and Dean of Faculty (amended March 24, 2000), during any meeting of the Assembly at which the part-time individual is present and for any committee activity which the part-time appointee may accept. (Approved August 24, 1978)
RESOLVED: Except where specified otherwise, faculty representatives to President Councils and Committees and Committees of the Board of Trustees will serve multiple year terms with provisions made for orderly rotation of membership. Ordinarily, for committees with three elected faculty representatives, the terms will be three years in length and one term will expire each year; for committees with two elected faculty representatives, the terms will be two years in length and one term will expire each year.