Stephen F. Austin State University

Department Bylaws

Department of Government
Stephen F. Austin State University

I. Preamble (Mission)
The Department of Government has a three-pronged mission encompassing the components of education, research and service. Its education mission involves both general education and specialized training in specific disciplines. All three disciplines provide a well-balanced curriculum leading to baccalaureate degrees with requirements for a major, double major, or minor in those fields. Courses provide both theoretical knowledge and practical experience, the latter reflected in field assignments and internships. Students experience a variety of teaching strategies and techniques from a highly qualified faculty. There are many opportunities for faculty-student interactions both within and outside the classroom and through department organizations and activities.

Faculty are encouraged to participate in professional development through research and scholarly/creative activities such as publication in learned journals, presentation of papers at professional meetings, and pursuit of grants for research projects. These undertakings provide direct benefit to students as professors share their research findings in academic classrooms.

Service to the university, profession, and community are important goals of the department. Participation allows faculty to take part in the governance of the university through the committee system and the Faculty Senate. Service to the profession and outside community allows faculty to contribute time and talent in areas of expertise while raising the visibility of the university beyond our boundaries.

II. The Chair
A. Responsibilities of the Chair: The administrative responsibilities of the department chair as spelled out in the Stephen F. Austin State University Policy and Procedures Manual, Section E-10A: Departmental Administration include, but are not limited to, the following:
1) Provide leadership in the establishment and maintenance of a visionary direction and standards for the academic unit, consistent with the College and University missions;
2) Serve as an advocate for the department, college, and university;
3) Assure program quality through evaluation, modification and development of programs and curriculum;
4) Respond to the needs, responsibilities and requirements of students, faculty, administration, the public and other constituencies - e.g., develop and implement an effective student advising system; encourage the professional growth and recognition of faculty and staff; prepare catalog materials, schedules of classes, and teaching and collateral assignments of department faculty/staff; support and encourage faculty involvement in university and community activities;
5) Manage fiscal resources - prepare and administer the department budget; maintain effective and efficient department office procedures; where appropriate, coordinate fundraising activities with the College and University;
6) Manage and allocate physical resources;
7) Establish/maintain and communicate effective personnel procedures and processes - recruitment and hiring procedures, evaluation of department members for retention/termination, tenure, promotion, and merit raises; develop a climate and allocate available resources that promote faculty development; and
8) Promote the academic unit as a representative to external organizations/activities
9) Will keep the Department informed of policies and regulations affecting undergraduate majors.

B. Selection of the Chair: The process for the selection of Chairs is spelled out in the Stephen F. Austin State University Policy and Procedures Manual.

III. Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program Director
A. Appointment: The Department Chair appoints the MPA Program Director based upon the recommendation of the faculty teaching in the MPA program over the last two years. The term of office is normally three years and is renewable.

B. Duties: The Director:
• Are responsible for program organization, program development, student recruitment, program assessment, and other tasks as assigned by the chair or director.
• Determines programmatic course requirements in consultation with core faculty.
• Handles official correspondence of the program.
• Secures funding for graduate assistants and recruits students to fill positions while maintaining contact with the Chair throughout the process.
• Will assist the chair in planning course schedules, teaching assignments, and course offerings each semester.
• Will coordinate recommendations to the departmental faculty for changes in the graduate curriculum.
• Directs internship program

IV. The Undergraduate Program Coordinators
A. Appointment: The Department Chair appoints the Undergraduate Program Coordinators based on the recommendations of the faculty teaching in each program. The term of office is normally three years and is renewable. Program Coordinators will be granted reassignments from their teaching duties subject to program needs and budgetary constraints.

B. Duties: The Undergraduate Coordinators:
• Are responsible for program organization, program development, student recruitment, program assessment, and other tasks as assigned by the chair or director.
• Will coordinate the advising of undergraduate majors.
• Will assist the chair in planning course schedules, teaching assignments, and course offerings each semester.
• Will coordinate recommendations to the departmental faculty for changes in the undergraduate curriculum.
• May approve course substitutions be made for degree plan requirements on a case-by-case basis.

V. Departmental Committees
Unless otherwise specified in these Bylaws, all committees shall operate under the following guidelines: (1) Committee chairpersons shall be voting members and are responsible for scheduling and establishing agendas. (2) Robert's Rules of Order shall govern the procedures of all committees. (3) A quorum is presumed to exist unless a call for a quorum is introduced. If such a call reveals that less than a simple majority of the committee members is present, no final action on motions may be taken. (4) All actions by committees on substantial questions are subject to departmental approval, unless otherwise specified in the Bylaws.

A. Search Committees
1. Membership: After the Department has received official notice of authorization to conduct a search, voting members of the department will select by approval voting three members of the search committee. The Chair of the department may then appoint up to two members of the search committee. All search committees will include faculty from all three of the disciplines unless all of the faculty of a discipline choose not to participate.

2. Duties: The search committee in conjunction with the Department Chair shall be responsible for developing an appropriate position description, advertising the position, initial screening of candidates, and arranging and overseeing interviews for candidates invited to campus.

3. Determination of interviewees: The search committee presents the department with a list of pre-screened candidates. The faculty will take an initial vote of acceptable/unacceptable. A second vote will rank order all candidates that a majority of the department deemed as acceptable (also known as a Borda count)

4. Campus visits: The search committee will be responsible for coordinating the campus visits of finalists. The committee will facilitate a variety of events where faculty have an opportunity to meet with the candidates individually and in group setting to permit an evaluation of applicants' teaching, research and scholarly abilities. The search committee will communicate the dates of campus visits and itineraries of the candidates to faculty members when available.

5. Determination of job offer: As soon as possible after candidate visits are completed, the departmental faculty will meet to decide to whom the offer should be made. If in a preliminary approval vote, no more than two candidates are acceptable to a majority, then their priority ordering for receiving a job offer will be by majority vote. If three candidates are acceptable, then their priority ordering for receiving the offer will be determined by rank-order voting [also known as The Borda Count: each voter ranks the candidates from 1 (best) to 3 (worst) and the ranking is produced by summing the scores of all voters.]

B. Executive Committee: 1. Membership - The Executive Committee will be composed of five members; four of whom will be elected by the faculty of the Department to two-year terms. One seat will be designated for members of each of the three disciplines. The fifth will be the Department Chair who will serve as a voting member of the committee and as chair of the committee.

2. Duties - The general duties of the Executive Committee shall be to assist the Department Chair in identifying and evaluating courses of action with respect to any question the Chair or a committee member wishes to place on the Committee's agenda and to represent the departmental faculty and students by conveying to the Chair matters of concern deemed appropriate for his or her consideration. The Executive Committee will also be responsible for the Department's merit process as outlined in these Bylaws.

C. Ad hoc committees: The chair may create and constitute ad hoc committees to his or her own initiative or at the suggestion of the departmental faculty to deal with business not within the jurisdiction of the standing committees.

VI. Departmental Meetings
A. Scheduling: The Department Chair shall call regular meetings of the department. All meetings for the transaction of departmental business shall be called by the Department Chair provided that at least one departmental meeting be called during each academic semester. Faculty should be notified of any meeting at least two working days in advance. If at least three members of the faculty so petition, an extraordinary meeting can be called. Department meetings should be scheduled at a time when all faculty are not teaching.

B. Establishment of Agenda: The Chair will establish the agenda for departmental meetings. Notification of all agenda items requiring a vote by the members of the department must be given no later than 24 hours prior to scheduled meetings. However, introduction and action on a new agenda item may be made at departmental meetings by a two-thirds vote.

C. The Presiding Officer: The presiding officer at all departmental meetings shall be the Departmental Chair or a member designated by the Chair.

D. Quorums: A quorum for the transaction of departmental business shall be defined as one half plus one of all voting members of the Department. A quorum shall be assumed to exist when the presiding officer calls the meeting to order. A quorum call may be introduced by any member, at which time, the presiding officer shall order that the roll be called. In the event that a roll call reveals the absence of a quorum, no final action on any substantive proposal shall be entertained.

E. Procedures: Unless otherwise specified in these Bylaws, Robert's Rules of Order shall govern departmental proceedings. These Bylaws take precedence over Robert's Rules of Order.

The decision of the Chair with respect to any procedural question shall be final unless an appeal from the Chair's ruling is introduced and seconded. In such a case, the Chair shall call for a vote on the motion "that the Chair's ruling be reversed." A simple majority shall then decide the question.

F. Voting: The voting departmental faculty consists of all tenure and tenure-track university faculty or those who have been conferred voting status as specified below. Visiting and adjunct faculty may participate in departmental meetings but are not entitled to vote.

Faculty with joint appointments in the Department and in one or more other departments, institutes or similar entities of the university may, upon invitation of the department, attend departmental meetings.

Voting rights for joint appointees whose primary appointment lies outside the Department can be conferred based on a majority vote of the department faculty. Voting rights will be conferred in light of demonstrated contributions to the Department activities such as: active participation on search and other departmental committees, active and regular participation in department meetings, sustained contributions to the department's teaching programs, and other activities which may be deemed appropriate.

1. Simple Majority Rule: A simple majority, defined as more than fifty percent of those present and voting, shall decide all motions except those for which other rules are provided in these bylaws.

2. Two Thirds Majority Rule: Motions to close or limit debate, to suspend the rules, and to object to consideration, shall be passed only with the support of at least two thirds of those present and voting.

3. Approval Voting: When a committee is to be selected from the faculty, the following procedure will be used. Any member of the faculty who is eligible to serve can be nominated by any of the voting members, provided there is a second. After the nominations are closed, the voting members vote by secret ballot for as many of these nominees as they wish. The nominees who receive the highest vote totals will be chosen. In the event of ties among the nominees who take the last available seat on the panel, a member will be chosen by a suitable method of randomization.

4. Secret ballots: A secret ballot shall be used for all personnel matters. For other matters, the Chair shall order a secret ballot upon request of a single member.

5. Proxy voting: Voting by proxy is disallowed except by approval of a simple majority. Proxy votes should be given to Department Chair in advance on paper or via email.

G. Minutes: It shall be the Chair's responsibility to designate a person to record proceedings at each departmental meeting. The record of proceedings, designated as "minutes of the meeting," shall (1) include a precise statement of all motions and the action taken on all motions, and (2) a summary of each report presented at the meeting. It shall be the privilege of any member to request by a unanimous consent motion that his or her votes and/or remarks be included in the minutes.

The minutes of each meeting shall be made available to members of the Department no later that 30 days after the date of the meeting.

H. Adjournment: Each departmental meeting shall be limited to two hours. The time may be extended by approval of a unanimous consent motion.

VII. Annual Faculty Merit Evaluation
A. Teaching: Evaluation of teaching performance is based on available student evaluations, course syllabi, examinations and student assignments. Teaching excellence is indicated by innovative teaching methods, favorable feedback, positive student comment sheets, receipt of teaching awards, overload teaching, seeking and attaining of grants related to teaching activities.

B. Research: Research performance ratings derive from the quality and quantity of research, publications, grants and conference papers. Excellence in research is indicated by the extent and type of research and publication, reviews from publishers and peers, citations of work, the reputation of the conference, journal or publisher accepting an author's work, seeking and attaining research grants, and peer evaluation by members of the Executive Committee of the quality of the research. Faculty applying for merit should distinguish between completed research and works in progress. Works in progress will not be counted towards merit. A faculty member may list completed research as a work in progress if he/she wishes to claim it as completed research in a future year.

C. Service: Faculty are evaluated in terms of the quality and quantity of their service to the Department, the College, the University, the profession, and the public at large. Sharing of departmental duties is particularly important. Student retention and recruitment efforts should be reported.

D. Procedure: Faculty members shall provide their Chair with copies of their Faculty Activity Report (FAR) of his/her activities during the preceding year (September 1 through August 31) and any other pertinent information that may be requested.

The report and supporting documentation of each applicant shall be received and reviewed by the Chair and the Executive Committee.

If the faculty member is dissatisfied with the results of such review, he or she may request that the case be reviewed at higher administrative levels according to policy E-25N

E. Evaluation of faculty who have been on leave for the period under review: Salary increases may be given to those who take family leaves or leaves for health purposes, as provided by law.

Faculty members whose leaves of absence take them away from making normal contributions in specific areas, but who expect to make greater than average contributions in other areas, can have the normal weighting of teaching, research, and service re-negotiated with the chair when they request leave to reflect the kinds of work that they are doing during their leave.

F. Merit review and evaluation:
1. Preliminary rating: Each member of the Executive Committee will carefully review each applicant's Faculty Activity Report (FAR). Faculty ratings are based on the information on the quantity, quality (level of journal/publisher, value of learning generated in a course), significance and impact (especially the generation of citations, funding, and student teaching awards) of teaching, research, and service. After reviewing all applications, each committee member will make a preliminary rating for each applicant in each category (Teaching, Scholarly, and Service) using the following scale: 1-2 (unacceptable), 3 (unsatisfactory), 4 (satisfactory) 5-6 (good), 7-8 (very good) to 9-10 (excellent). Committee members may use fractional values.

2. Collection Meeting: The Chair will collect the overall ratings from each committee member and compute each applicant's score by multiplying the appropriate percentage for each category to arrive at the overall score for each individual under consideration.

3. Committee Meeting: At a special meeting of the Executive Committee, committee members present and discuss their ratings of each faculty member. Any committee member under consideration for merit will leave the room during any discussion of his/her ratings or level of merit.

A score is assigned for each faculty member in the areas of teaching, research, and service by taking the mean of the final ratings of the committee members.

The three areas under review will be weighed as follows: Teaching 50%. At the time the FAR is submitted to the chair, the candidate will designate whether scholarship or service is to be weighted at 30 percent with the remaining area weighted at 20 percent.

4. Merit ratings: A numerical score is calculated from each merit applicant by taking the mean of the scores for each area (teaching, research, and service) and weighting them. (Teaching is weighted at .5, research at .3, and service at .2). The weighted scores for each area are then added together. Following a discussion of each applicant's initial score, a final score is computed and determines placement into one of the four levels of merit categories below.

(a) Level One - Applicant scores 4-4.99 or has satisfactory performance in teaching according to their chair's administrative evaluation. No application for merit is necessary.
(b) Level Two - Applicant scores 5-6.99
(c) Level Three - Applicant scores 7-8.49
(d) Level Four - Applicant scores 8.50 or higher

The Executive Committee will determine how merit funds will be distributed. No quotas or fixed percentages are to be assigned for each level. The strengths and achievements of faculty within the department in a given year should determine the distribution of merit stipends.

G. Direct communication with faculty members: The Chair informs each faculty member of his or her Executive Committee merit ratings through a written statement of evaluation. This letter consists of qualitative assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the faculty member in the areas of teaching, research and service. Each faculty member is invited to discuss the evaluation with the Chair.

H. Faculty development: The Committee and Department Chair may use the overview gained in evaluation to suggest collaborations and new directions for reviewed faculty.

I. Appeals: Within one week of the receipt of the Executive Committee's evaluation, any faculty member may request reconsideration from the Chair. Faculty who seek review should be prepared to submit additional information that might clarify or enhance the portfolio previously submitted. The Chair will present these requests and their justifications to the Executive Committee. The aggrieved faculty member has the right to meet with the Executive Committee for purposes of reconsideration. Cases of reconsideration will be decided by the Chair, in consultation with the Executive Committee. The chair informs the petitioning faculty member of the final evaluation.

Should the regular appeal procedure fail to satisfy a faculty member, the faculty member may avail himself or herself of a further review process as specified in University Policy.

The Executive Committee will begin evaluating faculty by this Merit Policy beginning Fall 2004.

VIII. Adjunct Faculty
Adjunct faculty will be appointed by the Chair at any time in the calendar year and for such period of time, not to exceed one academic year, as is appropriate given budgetary constraints, student demand for courses, and program needs.

The Executive Committee will reassess all adjunct faculties yearly and make recommendations to the faculty for renewal or dismissal. The faculty will recommend whether updated professional credentials are needed for renewal.

Adjunct faculty will be exempt from committee assignments, advising responsibilities, and all other expectations of service and scholarship placed upon the tenure track faculty. Adjunct faculty may participate in departmental meetings but are not entitled to vote.

IX. Ratification of the Bylaws and Amendments
A. Ratification: The Bylaws shall be adopted and take effect immediately after approval by two thirds of the voting members of the department. Following adoption, a copy of the Bylaws shall be made available to all members of the department.

B. Amendments: Amendments to the Bylaws may be introduced at a departmental meeting, but no vote may be called until the following departmental meeting. Two thirds of the voting members of the department must approve proposed amendments for them to become effective.