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XIII. Elected Faculty Committees and Appointed Standing Faculty Committees

Recognizing the need for efficiency in a democratic system of governance, the faculty elects committees to perform certain functions. Participation in monthly general faculty meetings and service on committees are opportunities for, and necessary parts of, contributing to the shared governance of the college, especially in determining and directing the educational policy of the institution. In general, the faculty makes educational policy and reviews associated administrative practice. Faculty committees formulate and recommend policy to the faculty. The administration facilitates the work of the faculty and students by implementing these policies. Committees are accountable to the faculty and other relevant constituencies.

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A. Eligibility

Committee membership is limited, except as otherwise specified, to members of the faculty and educational administration who have general suffrage, part-time faculty who have academic suffrage, and to students on designated committees. No faculty member is eligible for immediate reelection or reappointment to a particular governance committee unless specifically permitted in the statement describing a committee. However, one-year replacements are eligible for reelection or reappointment to a full term.

No member of the faculty may serve simultaneously on more than one of the following committees unless specifically required to do so in the descriptions of committee membership: faculty appointment and salary committee, faculty policy and conference committee, and committee on curricular policies.

Some committees have rank or tenure membership requirements. If a change in the status of a faculty member contravenes these requirements, then that member becomes ineligible to serve. The Committee on Committees fills the vacated position by appointment or election, as appropriate. Some committees have divisional membership requirements. For the purposes of representation on committees the departments of instruction are organized into three divisions: (1) arts and literature; (2) social sciences; (3) natural sciences and mathematics. Occasionally committees will also specify multidisciplinary representation.

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B. Students

Where specified in the committee membership, participation by students in committee work constitutes an opportunity and expectation for student engagement in shared governance of the college. The processes for selection of student representatives are determined by the Vassar student association, unless otherwise specified. Unless required by the purpose of the particular committee, student members of committees do not have access to confidential information on their peers (e.g., admission records, academic records, family financial records) or employees of the college. Any committee actions in which sharing such information is necessary must work out mechanisms to maintain confidentiality.

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C. Elections

The elections officer of the committee on committees conducts the balloting for standing elective committees, in the following order:

After a separate nominating ballot and before other committee elections, the following are elected: After a separate nominating ballot and before other committee elections, the following are elected: members of the faculty appointment and salary committee and the faculty policy and conference committee, the chair of the committee on research, the faculty co-chair of the library committee, the chair of the faculty committee on admission and financial aid, and the chair of the committee on assessment.
(Amended by the faculty Dec. 2013)

After a second nominating ballot, members of all other standing elective committees are elected.

Members of the faculty planning to be on leave for one semester or more of the succeeding year are not eligible for election or appointment to standing committees.  

Members of the faculty under review for advancement in rank are not eligible for election or appointment to any position on a committee for which the Governance mandates election of or representation by members of specific rank(s).

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D. Vacancies Prior to the End of Term

Vacancies in positions elected on the first balloting cycle are filled by a special election at the earliest possible date. Other vacancies in elective committees are filled by election when this can take place at the time of the regular elections. Otherwise vacancies are filled by appointment by the committee on committees. Appointments are made for a year or until the next general election. Vacancies for committee delegates selected by another committee are selected by that committee.

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E. Principles of committee action:

  • On each college committee, a simple majority of its voting members constitutes a quorum, provided that at least one-half of the faculty members are present.

  • Decisions are reached by majority vote of the members present, assuming a quorum is present.

  • Each committee submits an annual report, to be posted on the official Committee on Committees website. Where appropriate, links from that website to a committee site that contains additional information is encouraged.

  • Each committee passes on its annual reports and summaries of on-going and continuing business, to its successor chair for information and guidance.

  • Each committee reports to the faculty as promptly as possible any important action or deliberation. It reports to the faculty on general policy within its jurisdiction and on issues that the committee determines the faculty should consider.

  • Members of the faculty have a right to appear at a committee’s meetings and present their views on agenda items. During deliberations, only committee members may be present unless the committee has invited others to attend.

  • The chair calls a meeting of the committee when requested to do so by one-third of its members.

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Committees

  1. Committee on Curricular Policies

    Purpose: The committee on curricular policies (CCP) considers all policies and practices of the college related to the curriculum. CCP recommends changes in general curricular policy to the faculty. CCP considers proposed changes in department and program course offerings before presenting them to the faculty for approval.

    Membership: The committee on curricular policies consists of: the dean of the faculty (chair); four members of the faculty, one from and representing each division and one multidisciplinary program director (currently serving, or having served within the past six years), elected for two years with staggered terms so that two retire each year; two students from the student curriculum committee with majors in a department and a multidisciplinary program, one of whom is ordinarily the Academic Executive of the Vassar Student Association (VSA); and, as non-voting members, the dean of studies and the registrar. No two divisional or multidisciplinary elected faculty members come from the same department or program. If a faculty member resigns from membership on the committee during their term, the Committee on Committees appoints a replacement representing the same division or, if the resigning member was the multidisciplinary program director member, another multidisciplinary program director representative. Faculty and student representatives to the committee consult on curricular initiatives with the constituencies they represent.

    The Committee on Curricular Policies oversees general educational policy, reviews educational and curricular policies, and recommends to the faculty significant changes in educational and curricular policies.

    Faculty and student representatives to the committee consult on curricular initiatives with the constituencies they represent.

    Changes to educational or curricular policy, including the organization of departments and programs, and significant curricular changes are placed on the faculty meeting agenda for discussion and approval. Other curricular changes approved by CCP are listed in the faculty meeting agenda packets. If a faculty member objects to a change included in the agenda packet by noon the day before a faculty meeting, the change is automatically referred back to CCP for further consideration in consultation with the appropriate parties. CCP may then include the change, with any amendments, in a future agenda packet or present it to the faculty for discussion and approval. Changes reported in the agenda packet to which no objections are raised are announced at the faculty meeting as having been approved. CCP approves editorial changes at its discretion.

    The committee forms subcommittees that may include non-CCP members to work on particular issues. Subcommittees must include at least one voting member of CCP. Standing subcommittees of CCP include:

    1. The quantitative analysis (QA) subcommittee oversees policy regarding the QA requirement and its implementation. It includes, at a minimum, the Dean of Studies, one student, and one elected faculty member from CCP who chairs the subcommittee. The subcommittee designates which new courses meet the established QA criteria and reviews existing QA courses for re-designation at least once every five years. The subcommittee also studies the effectiveness of the QA requirement and reviews and recommends changes to the criteria and policies pertaining to QA courses and the QA requirement.

    2. The writing subcommittee oversees policy regarding the freshman writing seminar (FWS) requirement and its implementation as well as instruction in analytical or argument-driven writing more generally at the college. It includes the Director of the Writing Center, Dean of First-Year Students, a librarian, an elected faculty member from CCP, and at least two other faculty members who have taught the FWS within the past five years, appointed by the Dean of Faculty to ensure broad representation and normally serving for two-year terms. The Director of the Writing Center serves as co-chair, and a faculty co-chair is elected annually by the subcommittee. The writing subcommittee designates which new courses meet the established FWS criteria, studies the effectiveness of the FWS and writing instruction at the college more generally, and reviews and recommends changes to the criteria and policies pertaining to writing in the college curriculum.

    3. The curricular review subcommittee reviews in detail the curricular or educational policy changes submitted to CCP prior to full committee consideration of those changes. It includes, at a minimum, the Registrar, one elected faculty member from CCP, one student, and a representative of the Dean of the Faculty.

    4. A subcommittee of CCP advises the dean of the faculty regarding the authorization of tenure-track searches. The subcommittee consists of the four elected faculty members of CCP together with a recent past chair of FASC and the current chair of FPCC. If there is no untenured faculty member of CCP, then the Committee on Committees appoints an untenured member of the faculty to be added to the subcommittee.

    Minutes are kept in the Office of the Registrar. Significant curricular proposals recommended for approval appear in faculty meeting agenda packets.

  2. Faculty Policy and Conference Committee

    Purpose: The faculty policy and conference committee represents the faculty in relations with the trustees concerning substantial changes in educational policy and in terms and provisions of employment of the faculty an in matters of faculty housing policy.

    FPCC confers with the trustees and administration on behalf of the faculty in establishing priorities for the allocation of the college’s resources. It evaluates the incorporation of these priorities in the operating and capital budgets as prepared by the administration and approved by the trustees.

    The faculty policy and conference committee is responsible for considering revisions to the following sections of the Governance: the relations of trustees and faculty, the educational organization of the college, the by-laws of the faculty, and faculty committees and for considering changes to the Faculty Handbook. Proposed changes to the Governance and the Faculty Handbook that are substantive in character shall be brought before the faculty for action. Minor changes that are intended solely to bring the documents into conformity with policy already approved by the faculty shall be reported to the faculty. Those changes that are objected to in advance by three faculty members shall be set down for faculty discussion; otherwise the faculty delegates to the committee the authority to make such adjustments. Changes that are purely editorial in nature – correction of grammar, typographical errors, and so forth – may be made by the committee at its discretion. The provisions of this section supersede other provisions concerning amendment of the Governance with which they may be in conflict.
    (Amended by the faculty May 13, 2009)

    FPCC serves as the faculty’s committee on conference with the trustees with the exception of conferences reserved to the faculty appointment and salary committee and the faculty compensation committee.

    The faculty policy and conference committee discusses matters of concern referred to the committee by faculty or administration; it may also initiate studies of its own. It may seek advice from, or refer specific matters to, other faculty committees.

    Working with the faculty appointment and salary committee, FPCC annually assesses the performance of the president and the president’s senior administration in a written report to the personnel committee of the board of trustees and discusses the report in a meeting with that committee.

    FPCC serves as the faculty’s committee on conference with the students.

    Membership: The faculty policy and conference committee consists of three elected faculty members, one from each professorial rank (the professor is the chair); one elected budget member from the tenured ranks; the second-year full professor on the faculty appointment and salary committee; and a member from the committee on curricular policies, selected annually by the faculty members of that committee. The full and associate professors as well as the budget member serve 3-year terms and the assistant professor serves a two-year term. Upon promotion of the assistant or associate professor member during their term, the promoted member serves on the committee until a replacement is elected during a regular election to serve out the term being vacated. If a faculty member cannot fulfill the duration of their term, a special election 169 Faculty Handbook will be held, and the new member will serve out the term being vacated. For the purposes of continuity, the terms of the chair and budget member will be staggered so that they do not end in the same year. In the event that the end of the terms do coincide, the chair will serve one additional year. If this is not possible, the budget member will serve one additional year. These decisions will be made in consultation with the President, the Dean of Faculty, and the Committee on Committees.

  3. Faculty Appointment and Salary Committee

    Purpose: The faculty appointment and salary committee (FASC) advises the president and the dean of the faculty in accordance with the provisions of the Governance, (See The Educational Organization of the College: with listing of appropriate sections). FASC participates in appointments, reappointments, promotions, granting tenure, and reviewing dismissals. Only the three full professors act in cases of promotion from associate to full professor, and in granting tenure to persons hired at the rank of full professor. FASC reviews cases of extension of initial professor contracts and reappointments of two-year instructors when there is a negative recommendation from either the department or the dean.

    FASC conducts its reviews independently, and then submits a recommendation to the dean of the faculty. Both FASC and the dean make a joint recommendation to the president. After all relevant substantive evidence, including external evaluations, has been considered, the president, the dean of the faculty, and FASC may meet with departments or programs if they require additional information or if their preliminary discussions indicate the likelihood of a decision contrary to the department’s or program’s recommendation. The Faculty Handbook describes the procedures for all appointments and reviews.

    Faculty members are free to consult informally with any member of FASC. FASC, however, is precluded from responding to faculty members under review once their materials have been submitted for review, except under circumstances specified by the Faculty Handbook.

    Working with FPCC, FASC, annually assesses the performance of the president and the president’s senior administration in a report to the personnel committee of the board of trustees.

    Membership: The faculty appointment and salary committee consists of three tenured professors, elected for three years, and two tenured associate professors elected for two years, one member at each rank retiring each year. The chair is the professor with the longest service on the committee. No department may be represented by more than one committee member. Continuity of service on this committee is essential, so individuals accepting nomination to the committee should plan to serve a full term.

  4. Appeal Committee

    Purpose: The appeal committee considers grievances by individual faculty members in matters of promotion, tenure and reappointment and hears certain other appeals as described in the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment and the Policy on Consensual Relationships Between Faculty and Students. Only the following categories of grievances may be considered:

    1. A faculty member on term appointment alleges that abridgment of academic freedom, as defined in Principles Underlying Relations of Trustees, Faculty, and Students significantly contributed to a decision to terminate the faculty member’s appointment at its expiration. In such cases the procedures of the appeal committee are:

      1. To make a preliminary determination concerning whether the allegation of abridgment of academic freedom properly falls within the scope of academic freedom as defined by the Governance; and

      2. If the preliminary determination is affirmative, to recommend that the case be heard by a faculty review committee. In recommending that a case be heard by a faculty review committee, the appeal committee renders no judgment concerning whether an abridgment of academic freedom has actually occurred.

    2. A faculty member alleges that a violation of the procedures and principles for the conduct of reviews contributed to a negative outcome in the faculty member’s review for extension, reappointment, tenure, or promotion. The procedures for hearing procedural appeals are described in the Faculty Handbook chapter on Appointment, Extension, Reappointment, and Promotion.

    3. When the remedy or sanction following a determination of a violation of the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment could involve an adjustment to the normal procedures for a faculty review, the Appeal Committee determines what changes, if any, are necessary. The procedure for determining changes is described in the Faculty Handbook in the Policy against Discrimination and Harassment. A faculty member who believes a future, ongoing, or past review of the faculty member will be, is, or was affected by discrimination or harassment, as defined in the Policy against Discrimination and Harassment, should consult the EOAA office and the Policy against Discrimination and Harassment for the appropriate procedures as soon as possible.
      (Amended by the faculty, May 2015)

    4. When faculty member has been a respondent in a harassment or discrimination grievance hearing, the appeal committee hears appeals of the sanctions and/or determination of the grievance panel. The procedures for hearing such appeals are described in Faculty Handbook in the Policy against Discrimination and Harassment. .

    5. When a faculty member appeals a determination or disciplinary action under the Policy on Consensual Relationships Between Faculty and Students. The procedures for hearing such appeals are described in the Faculty Handbook in the Policy on Consensual Relationships Between Faculty and Students.

    Membership: The appeal committee consists of three tenured members of the faculty and two assistant professors. The term of service is two years. Two tenured members and one assistant professor retire in one year; one of each category of members retires in alternate years. No department chair or program director serves on the committee and no department is represented by more than one member. No member of FASC may be elected to serve on the appeal committee in the year immediately following the member’s retirement from FASC. Each year the committee elects one of its tenured members as chair. If a member faces a conflict of interest in a particular issue before the appeal committee, the chair requests the committee on committees to appoint a temporary substitute.
    (Amended by the faculty, November 2014)

  5. Review Committee

    Purpose: In the case of a recommendation to dismiss a faculty member for cause, the faculty member may request that a review committee be constituted. The review committee reviews the case and makes an independent recommendation to the president, the dean of the faculty, and the faculty appointment and salary committee as provided in The Educational Organization of the College.

    The appeal committee may also request a review committee be constituted if a non-tenured faculty member alleges that an abridgment of academic freedom significantly contributed to a decision to terminate the faculty member’s appointment at its expiration, as provided in The Educational Organization of the College. In such cases, the burden of proof rests with the faculty member for establishing the grounds upon which the allegations are based.

    Membership: A separate review committee is constituted for each case. The committee on committees appoints the membership of the review committee, which consists of three tenured professors. The committee elects a chair from its membership.

  6. Faculty Compensation Committee

    Purpose: The faculty compensation committee advises the president on the aggregate amount that is annually allotted to faculty compensation and, in cooperation with the faculty policy and conference committee and the committee on benefits, on the nature and magnitude of faculty insurance, pension and other benefits. The committee has the right to report to and confer with the appropriate trustee committee in the event that the faculty compensation committee’s recommendation differs from that of the president.

    The faculty compensation committee recommends general guidelines to the president, dean of the faculty, and faculty appointment and salary committee for the distribution of salary among ranks. The committee reports to the faculty after the conclusion of the allocation of faculty compensation.

    Membership: The faculty compensation committee consists of the three professors of the faculty appointment and salary committee and the chair and budget member of the faculty policy and conference committee. The chair of FASC serves as the chair of the faculty compensation committee.

  7. Committee on Committees

    Purpose: After the results of elections to committees have been announced, the committee on committees chooses faculty members for vacancies on other committees including the following standing committees: climate action and sustainability committee, campus responsibility committee, college regulations committee, academic panel, committee on college life, and committee on housing. When elections fail to fill positions on elective college committees, the committee on committees fills those positions until the next election can lead to an elected representative on the committee. It selects faculty representatives on ad hoc committees when so authorized by the faculty. It also appoints the college marshal for a five-year term.

    Membership: The committee on committees consists of four members of the faculty, two of them tenured, elected for two years with two retiring each year. The committee elects a tenured member to be chair and a second member to be the elections officer who conducts the balloting for standing elective committees.

    The committee on committees is responsible for periodic review of the faculty committee structure and brings to the faculty recommendations for changes as the need arises.

    Where appropriate, in making appointments, the committee on committees considers such criteria as departmental divisions, gender balance, minority representation, the balance between tenured and untenured members, and the representation of new faculty and acts in accordance with the requirements on committee structure laid out in the Governance descriptions of such committees. Ordinarily, the committee shall not invite to further service faculty who are serving as chairs of departments or programs or on other elected college committees.

    The committee acts to ensure continuity in committees where simultaneous retirements take place; ordinarily this is done by extending the term of one member.

    All records of the Committee on Committees are collected annually in a permanent file in the Dean of the Faculty office.

  8. Committee on Housing

    Purpose: The committee on housing supports the residential nature of the campus through the administration of housing policy related to Vassar’s rental and leasehold properties. The committee on housing is responsible for considering general questions of housing policy and for the application of established policy to particular cases. The committee also serves as the body to which administrative rulings concerning housing may be appealed.

    The enforcement of all provisions and regulations described in the Faculty Handbook is the responsibility of the dean of strategic planning and academic resources in consultation with the committee on housing.

    Membership: The committee on housing consists of three members of the faculty, elected by the faculty for a term of three years, one member rotating off each year, two of whom are tenured and one untenured.

  9. Library Committee

    Purpose: The library committee collaborates with the Director of the Library on library policies, initiatives and new directions that affect the library’s central role in the educational mission of the College. Its agenda reflects the curricular interests of the faculty and the interests of the community as a whole as they relate to the resources and services of the library.

    As educational technology issues arise, the library committee consults with the committee on academic technologies. The library committee reports annually to the faculty on its activities and brings all issues that may significantly affect the library’s role as an educational unit of the College to the faculty for discussion.

    Membership: The library committee consists of the Director of the Library (co-chair); a faculty co-chair, who is tenured and elected at large for a three-year term; the dean or associate dean of the faculty; the dean or associate dean of strategic planning and academic resources; one librarian; four faculty members, no more than two from any division, elected for two years, two retiring each year, and two students. No department is represented by more than one faculty member.

    The Library Committee is the primary venue for faculty engagement with, and review of the role of the Library in the educational mission of the College. The agenda varies depending both on the needs of the Library and on the current interest and concerns of the committee members and the Faculty. The committee reviews existing policy and proposes changes or new policy as necessary. The committee co-chairs set the agenda, responding to the issues they see as important to their constituencies.

    There are no standing subcommittees, but the committee occasionally forms ad-hoc sub-committees for efficiency or when a topic requires sustained but narrower discussions. Normally such subcommittees are of short duration; however, if the topic warrants extended research or discussion, a sub-committee may continue for a longer period. Subcommittees report back regularly to the full committee.

  10. Committee on Academic Technologies

    Purpose: The committee on academic technologies develops and recommends policy related to academic and educational technologies, gathers information from faculty and students about instructional technology needs and initiatives and serves as advocates for those needs, and solicits ideas from and informs faculty and students of new initiatives related to instructional technology.

    Membership: The committee on academic technologies consists of four elected members of the faculty, one from each division including the multi-disciplinary programs; a member of academic computing services; a professional librarian appointed by the director of the libraries; and a member of the student body. Faculty members serve three-year terms and may not be elected to more than 2 consecutive terms. The committee selects a chair annually from the faculty members on the committee.

    In addition to discussing issues related to academic and educational technologies, the committee on academic technologies has a semiannual role reviewing faculty applications for the Frances D. Fergusson Faculty Technology Exploration Fund.

  11. Committee on Research

    Purpose: The committee on research considers policies related to faculty research. It advises the president, the dean of the faculty, and the faculty on applications for designated college research funds.

    Membership: The committee on research consists of five faculty members. The chair is a tenured member of the faculty elected for three years. Three other tenured members of the faculty are elected for two years, one from each of the divisions. The fifth member of the committee is elected at large for two years from the non-tenured (tenure-track, lecturers, or visiting) teaching faculty with academic suffrage. Two of the four members on two-year terms retire each year.

  12. College Committee on Admission and Financial Aid

    Purpose: The committee on admissions and financial aid considers all topics relevant to the college’s practice, standards, and policies of admission and financial aid broadly construed. The committee (1) acts as a forum for the discussion of issues and policies related to admission and financial aid, (2) acts as a conduit for the flow of information among the faculty, the student body, and the administration concerning these issues, (3) presents for approval to the faculty changes in standards and policies regarding admission and financial aid which are relevant to educational policy. Any policy changes approved by the faculty must be submitted to the trustees for final approval.

    Membership: The committee on admissions and financial aid consists of five members of the faculty, four members of the administration, and five students. Faculty members include the faculty co-chair, a tenured member of the faculty elected at large for a three-year term; three divisional representatives, one from each division, elected for two-year terms, one or two retiring each year; and the faculty athletics representative. In conformity with the rules of the National Collegiate Athletics Association, members of the department of athletics and physical education may not serve on this committee. Administrators on the committee include the dean of admission and financial aid (co-chair), director of financial aid, associate dean of the college for student growth and engagement, and dean of first-year students. The five students include at least one freshman. The vice president for communications serves ex officio.

  13. Committee on Fellowships

    Purpose: The committee on fellowships awards the income of college fellowships, except those for which a special procedure has been prescribed. The committee on fellowships reviews and makes decisions on applications for nationally competitive awards requiring institutional nomination or endorsement.

    Membership: The committee on fellowships consists of the dean of studies (chair) and seven members of the faculty elected for two years, at least two from each division, three members retiring each year. No department is represented by more than one faculty member. Ad hoc committees review applications for particular fellowships in order to reduce the workload of the fellowship committee.

    When a new fellowship opportunity is made available, the dean of studies and the director of the fellowship office, working sometimes with the development office, establish whether the applications will be reviewed by the full committee or by an ad hoc committee. Members of ad hoc committees are recruited by the director of the fellowship committee in some cases, and by departments in others. This work is separate from the work of the elected fellowship committee.

  14. Committee on Assessment

    Purpose: The committee on assessment examines and evaluates the practices in place to achieve the college’s educational goals as stated in its mission statement and elsewhere. Over a ten-year period it addresses all of the “Standards for Accreditation” published by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

    Membership: The committee on assessment consists of three elected members of the faculty: a chair, who is tenured, and two members elected at-large. The term of service of the chair is three years; the term of service of the at-large members is two years. The dean or associate dean of the faculty and the director of institutional research serve on the committee, ex officio.
    (Amended by the faculty Nov. 2015)

  15. Academic Panel

    Purpose: The academic panel reviews cases of academic dishonesty and assigns penalties. The three faculty members also serve as a court of appeals for students who, because of their unsatisfactory academic standing, are required to withdraw from the College by the committee on student records. The senior member of this court serves as chair and reports recommendations on appeals to the dean of studies and the president for final decision.

    Membership: The academic panel consists of the dean of studies (chair); three faculty members elected for two years, one and two retiring in alternate years; and three students.

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