The Faculty Senate adopted its constitution on November 14, 2000. The Virginia Tech faculty ratified the constitution in February 2001, and the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved the constitution in June 2001.
Article I. Name and Purpose
This representative body shall be known as the Faculty Senate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The purpose of the Faculty Senate is to create an effective faculty organization that can enter into partnership for shared responsibility and cooperative action between the faculty, administration, staff, and students in order to promote the general welfare of the university.
Article II. Functions
The functions of the Faculty Senate are:
- to establish within the laws applicable to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University an effective means for advising and responding to the university commissions, the University Council, the administration, and the Board of Visitors on university affairs;
- to express opinion on university affairs as the Faculty Senate deems appropriate and necessary;
- to participate in the formulation of academic and educational policies that concern more than one college, division, or center;
- to consider policies, programs, and other matters that the administration, college faculties, student organizations, and individuals of the faculty may propose;
- to afford avenues and procedures whereby communications within the university may flow freely, fully, and systematically;
- to help create, maintain, and protect a university environment conducive to the richest growth of scholarship, learning, teaching, research, service, and respect for human dignity and rights;
- to accept and share responsibility with the administration, staff, and students in all efforts to improve the stature and usefulness of the university;
- to advise, respond to, and participate in the Faculty Senate of Virginia, thereby providing university faculty with a voice in matters of broader concern to faculty across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Article III. Membership
Section 1. Composition: The membership of the Faculty Senate consists of elected faculty members.
Section 2. Eligibility: (Underscored words are defined in the bylaws.) A faculty member is eligible for election to the Faculty Senate and to vote in the election of faculty senators if the faculty member holds the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, or instructor; the faculty member holds a full-time and continuing appointment to the university; and the faculty member has an appointment or tenure in an academic department, or in the library, or as an extra-collegiate faculty member. Although otherwise qualified, those faculty members in administrative positions at the college level, the university level, or the library, and those faculty members studying for a degree at the university are ineligible.
Section 3. Principles of Representation: Insofar as possible, each senator shall represent an equal number of faculty members eligible for Faculty Senate membership. The faculty of each college shall be represented by at least three senators. The faculty of the library will be represented by two senators. Additional representation is prescribed in the bylaws. Members, though uninstructed representatives of their constituents, have the responsibility to seek the opinions of their electorate. Having done so, they shall make decisions and vote on matters brought before the Faculty Senate according to their own reasoned judgment. The Faculty Senate cabinet, upon recommendation of the secretary/treasurer, shall adjust annually the number of faculty senators in accordance with the Faculty Senate bylaws.
Section 4. Nominations and Elections: Eligibility to vote in the election of senators from the respective colleges or the library is limited to all those eligible for membership under article III, section 2. Candidates for the Faculty Senate are nominated and elected by each college or library faculty in the same manner as the officers of its faculty organization. In the absence of a formal faculty organization, nominations and elections are made as prescribed in the bylaws. The time for nomination and election of senators is prescribed in the bylaws.
Section 5. Term of Membership and Vacancies: Senators are elected for a term of three years except as prescribed in the bylaws, and are eligible for re-election but may not serve more than two consecutive terms (full or partial). Senators serve until their successors take office. Vacancies in unexpired terms are filled as prescribed in the bylaws.
Section 6. Elected Alternates: The Faculty Senate permits the college or library to elect alternates who may attend Faculty Senate meetings and vote in the absence of a senator from the same college or library.
Article IV. Officers
Section 1. Officers: The officers of the Faculty Senate are the president, vice president, secretary/treasurer, and immediate past president. The president appoints a member of the Faculty Senate to serve as parliamentarian.
Section 2. President: The duties of the president include representing the faculty to the Board of Visitors and the administration; presiding at all meetings of the Faculty Senate and cabinet; and performing duties prescribed in the constitution and bylaws or appropriate to the office.
Section 3. Vice President: The duties of the vice president include acting in the absence of the president; chairing the Commission on Faculty Affairs; and performing other duties as defined in the bylaws.
Section 4. Secretary/Treasurer: The duties of the secretary/treasurer include distributing the agenda prior to each meeting of the Faculty Senate; maintaining records, attendance, and minutes; distributing the Faculty Senate and cabinet minutes to senators; posting Faculty Senate minutes on and maintaining the Faculty Senate website; collecting dues and managing Faculty Senate accounts; and performing other duties defined in the bylaws.
Section 5. Immediate Past President: The duties of the immediate past president include assisting the president as requested and chairing a subcommittee of cabinet members to seek nominations for Faculty Senate officers and other senate elections.
Section 6. Nomination and Election of Officers: The Faculty Senate cabinet shall nominate a slate of officers and nominees for other senate elections. Additional nominations may be made from the floor of the senate. The time and manner of election of officers are prescribed in the bylaws.
Section 7. Term of Office and Vacancies: Officers are elected for a term of one year and are eligible for re-election, but may not serve more than two years consecutively in one office. The beginning and ending dates of the terms of office are prescribed in the bylaws. Vacancies in unexpired terms are filled in the same manner as are full terms.
Article V. The Faculty Senate Cabinet, Standing Committees, and Work Groups
Section 1. The Faculty Senate Cabinet: The members of the cabinet are the president, vice president, and secretary treasurer of the Faculty Senate, and one senator from each college and the library not represented by the officers. Faculty Senate cabinet members who are not senate officers are elected for a term of one year by caucus of the senators of the respective colleges. A senator may not be elected to the cabinet for more than two consecutive terms. The functions and duties of the cabinet are to serve as the executive committee of the Faculty Senate to which it is responsible and to which it reports regularly on the disposition of matters submitted to it; to act on behalf of the Faculty Senate between senate meetings; and to discharge other duties in accordance with parliamentary procedure and the Faculty Senate constitution and bylaws.
Section 2. Standing Committees and Work Groups: Standing committees and work groups are established to carry out the functions and operation of the Faculty Senate. Standing committees and work groups report to the Faculty Senate. All standing committee and work group actions (excepting those of the Committee on Reconciliation) are subject to review by the Faculty Senate. Additional standing committees and work groups may be established upon recommendation of the president of the Faculty Senate, the cabinet, or a senator, and approval of the Faculty Senate. Standing committees and work groups include the Committee on Reconciliation and others as listed in the bylaws.
- Committee on Reconciliation: The Committee on Reconciliation is composed of tenured faculty members eligible for membership in the Faculty Senate. The rules for membership on the Committee on Reconciliation are contained in the bylaws. Members are nominated by the Faculty Senate cabinet and elected by the Faculty Senate. At least one member shall be a senator. Faculty appointed to administrative positions with responsibility for recommending promotions, salary adjustments, and distribution of teaching, research, and extension assignments are ineligible for membership. A member is elected for a term of three years and is eligible for reappointment but may not serve more than six consecutive years. The committee elects its chair and secretary. The functions and duties of the Committee on Reconciliation are to offer advice and counsel to faculty members who seek it; to consider private matters of privilege, academic freedom, and tenure submitted to it by members of the faculty or administration; and to assist members of the faculty and the administration in resolving such questions as those of academic freedom and tenure.
- Other Committees: Membership to other standing committees within the university is appointed by the Faculty Senate president with consultation of the senate cabinet. These committees include the Faculty Review Committee and the Ethics Committee. See the Faculty Handbook for composition and function descriptions.
Article VI. Faculty Representation on the University Council, University Commissions and Committees, and the Faculty Senate of Virginia
Section 1. Principles of Representation: Recognizing the responsibility of the faculty to select their representatives on the University Council and university commissions and committees, the Faculty Senate and the college and library faculties shall elect such representatives. Faculty representatives to these organizations shall always keep in mind that the prime function of such bodies is policy making and that the implementation of policies and programs is properly the responsibility of administrators.
Section 2. Faculty Representation on University Council: The Faculty Senate president and six senators elected to serve on the University Council by the Faculty Senate shall represent more than half of the colleges. Term of office and procedure to fill vacancies in unexpired terms are prescribed in article IV, section 2 of the constitution of the University Council. The functions and duties of senators on the University Council are to represent the position of the Faculty Senate and the faculty on pertinent matters considered by the University Council; to inform the Faculty Senate of pertinent matters to be considered and of actions taken by the University Council; and to bring matters of faculty concern before the University Council.
Section 3. Faculty Representation of University Commissions: The Faculty Senate holds membership on university commissions as defined by the University Council including, but not limited to, the following: Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs, Commission on Classified Staff Affairs, Commission on Faculty Affairs, Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies, Commission on Outreach, Commission on Research, Commission on Student Affairs, Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies, and Commission on University Support. Term of office, eligibility for re-election, and procedure to fill vacancies in unexpired terms are prescribed in the bylaws and in article VII, section 4 of the constitution of the University Council. The functions and duties of Faculty Senate representatives on university commissions are to represent the position of the Faculty Senate and the faculty in the formulation of policy; to inform the Faculty Senate of pertinent matters to be considered and of actions taken; and to bring matters of faculty concern before the university commissions.
Section 4. Faculty Representation on University Committees: When nominations for university committees are requested by the president of the university, senate nominees are nominated by the Faculty Senate and college and library faculty representatives are nominated by their respective faculties. Term of appointment and responsibilities are prescribed in article VIII of the constitution of the University Council. Faculty Senate nominated representatives are eligible for nomination to a second consecutive term but may not serve more than six consecutive years. The functions and duties of faculty representatives on university committees are to represent the position of the faculty in the discharge of the functions and duties of the committee; to inform the Faculty Senate of pertinent matters to be considered and of actions taken; and to bring matters of faculty concern before the committee.
Section 5. Faculty Representation on the Faculty Senate of Virginia: The Virginia Tech Faculty Senate holds membership on the Faculty Senate of Virginia. The terms, functions, and duties of this representation are described in the bylaws.
Article VII. Meetings and Procedures
Section 1. Regular Meetings of the Faculty Senate: The senate shall hold at least two regular meetings each fall and spring semester and other meetings as prescribed in the bylaws.
Section 2. Special Meetings of the Faculty Senate: Special meetings of the Faculty Senate may be called by the presiding officers at any time, including June, July, and August, upon recommendation of the cabinet. Requests for special meetings may be made as prescribed in the bylaws.
Section 3. Open Forum Meetings of the Faculty Senate: Open forum meetings may be called to provide an opportunity for all segments of the university to express their views on an issue of general concern. Such meetings are called as prescribed in the bylaws.
Section 4. Cabinet Meetings: Regular meetings of the cabinet shall be held at least once each month from September through May. Special meetings of the cabinet may be called at any time by the presiding officer.
Section 5. General Faculty Meetings: The Faculty Senate may call a meeting of the general faculty.
Section 6. Standing Committee Meetings: Each standing committee meets as frequently as required to fulfill its responsibilities. The presiding officer prepares the agenda and the secretary distributes it to all members prior to each meeting.
Section 7. Quorum: A majority of the membership shall constitute a quorum for all meetings of the Faculty Senate, cabinet, or standing committees, except open forum meetings where no quorum is required.
Section 8. Faculty Attendance: Faculty members eligible for election to the Faculty Senate may attend but not vote in Faculty Senate regular and special meetings.
Section 9. Visitors: The Faculty Senate by majority vote may exclude visitors from attending meetings.
Section 10. Parliamentary Procedure: The latest edition of Sturgis' Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, subject to special rules as may be adopted by the Faculty Senate, shall govern the procedures of the Faculty Senate, cabinet, and standing committees.
Article VIII. Amendments
Section 1. Amendments to the Constitution: Notice of proposal to amend the Faculty Senate constitution shall be given in the Faculty Senate agenda and considered at no fewer than two meetings of the Faculty Senate prior to voting. A vote may be taken on an amendment at the second meeting. A copy of the proposed amendments shall be distributed with the agenda. A two-thirds affirmative vote of the membership is required for approval of changes followed by approval by the University Council, president of the university, and the Board of Visitors. One-fifth of faculty eligible for election to the Faculty Senate may petition the president of the university to convene a convention of faculty eligible for election to the Faculty Senate to make changes in the Faculty Senate constitution.
Section 2. Amendments to the Bylaws: Notice of proposal to amend the bylaws shall be given in the agenda and considered at not fewer than two meetings of the Faculty Senate prior to voting. A vote may be taken at the second meeting. An affirmative vote of the majority of the membership is required for adoption.