Academic Department Governance Documents

Academic Department Governance Documents

Repository of Academic Department Bylaws

Manning College of Information & Computer Sciences

Commonwealth Honors College


Elaine Marieb College of Nursing

UMass Writing Program

University Without Walls

Recommended Contents of Academic Department Bylaws

The following is a list of recommended contents for the bylaws of academic departments. The list is not exhaustive, and individual departments may choose to add or subtract from this list. Departments should avoid addressing subjects (examples: budget, teaching schedules, allocation of space, allocation of discretionary funds for travel or other purposes) that are primarily within the purview of chairs/heads and administrators. Departments should also avoid attempting to replicate or conflict with existing university policies or the UMass-MSP Collective Bargaining Agreement (examples: Faculty Senate guidelines on the appointment, evaluation, and reappointment of department chairs/heads; Red Book standards on promotion and tenure).

1. Name and college home

Acknowledgment that federal and state laws, UMass trustee policies, the CBA, and other established university policies shall prevail in instances of conflict with these bylaws. 

2. Faculty membership, rights, privileges, and responsibilities

Must include all faculty, unit and non-unit, tenure track and non-tenure track, part-time and full-time.

  • General rights (such as voting rights), privileges, and responsibilities of each faculty sub-group if not common to all sub-groups.
  • General rights, privileges, and responsibilities of faculty on leave (family leave, leave without pay, parental leave, sabbatical leave, sick leave)

3. Committees

  • Standing committees: names (examples: curriculum, DPC, diversity, executive, faculty development, graduate admissions, research, space, student affairs, summer-powers), purview of each, size, eligibility requirements for service (such as rank or tenure status), composition, ex officio membership, means of constituting, selection of committee leadership, frequency of meetings, quorum necessary to conduct business, voting rights of members, manner of voting (proxy votes, electronic votes, voice votes, written secret votes), advance notice, agendas, minutes and record-keeping/retention.
  • Ad hoc search committees: eligibility requirements for service (such as rank or tenure status), composition, means of constituting, selection of committee leadership, quorum necessary to conduct business, manner of voting (proxy votes, electronic votes, voice votes, written secret votes), minutes and record-keeping/retention, interaction with department chair/head and department faculty.
  • Other ad hoc committees: composition, means of constituting.
  • Representation by department members on college- or university-level committees (example: CPC): means of selection.
  • Student participation in committees (if any): means of selection, voting rights (if any), access to confidential information.  

4. Department meetings

Frequency, quorum necessary to conduct business, rules of order, voting rights of members, manner of voting (proxy votes, electronic votes, voice votes, written secret votes), sufficiency of vote for action, advance notice of meetings, agendas, minutes and record-keeping/retention, expectations for faculty participation, means by which individual faculty may request department meetings.  

5. Search procedures beyond the search committee

Participation of faculty and students in search process, faculty access to candidates’ application materials, faculty deliberation over and voting on ranking of finalists, confidentiality requirements, disclosing and managing real or perceived conflicts of interest including circumstances under which faculty should recuse themselves from deliberation and voting on candidates. 

6. Reappointment, promotion and tenure:

  • Engagement of faculty beyond the DPC: participation of faculty in the review process, expansion of DPC to become a committee of the whole (if applicable), eligibility for such participation (such as rank and tenure status).
  • External and internal reviews: standards for identifying and soliciting external reviews (where applicable, including the number of “arm’s-length” and of “close” reviewers, the timing of solicitation, the qualifications required for reviewers), solicitation of internal reviews (if any), confidentiality requirements.
  • Methods for the evaluation of teaching effectiveness in the department: acceptable forms of evidence (such as SRTIs and/or another instrument, peer evaluation, testimonials to mentoring/advising effectiveness, teaching portfolios, development of curricular materials, variations depending upon assigned duties).
  • Methods for the evaluation of service: Acceptable forms of evidence of service contributions (professional societies, governance bodies and member/leadership roles, committee work, community engagement, union work), evidence of leadership accomplishments in service contributions.  

7. Implementation of these bylaws

Effective date, extent to which they supersede existing policies or practices, grand-parenting provisions (if any) 8. Amendment of these bylaws: procedures for amending, sufficiency of vote for passage of amendments