Rules of Order

I: Authority

These rules are promulgated pursuant to the authority granted to the Faculty Senate in Article II, Section B. 5. of the Constitution of the Faculty Senate of Vanderbilt University. Except as otherwise provided in these rules, the transaction of Senate business shall proceed according to the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order (Newly Revised). [2014] 

II: Definition

The term "vote of the Senate" as used in these Rules means the vote of those present and voting, unless otherwise indicated.

III: Rules of Procedure

A. Order of Business

1. The following order of business shall be followed at all regular meetings of the Faculty Senate [2015]:

a. Call to order

b. Approval of the minutes of the last meeting

c. Report of the Executive Committee

d. Remarks by the Chancellor

e. Standing committee reports

f.  Ad hoc committee reports

g. Old business

h. New business

i. Scheduled remarks

j. Good of the Senate

k. Adjournment

2. Motions for Senate action which accompany committee reports shall normally be acted upon at the time that they are presented, provided that such motions have complied with the notification requirements of the Faculty Senate Rules of Order, Article III., Section D.1. below.

3. Committee reports not accompanied by motions for Senate action shall be filed with the Secretary, requiring no further action. The Senate may, however, refer such reports back to the originating committees or to the Executive Committee, or dispose of them in such other manner as it deems appropriate.

All floor discussions under the categories of old business and new business shall be preceded by a formal motion. Other general discussion shall be held under the heading of "Good of the Senate" or in connection with the reports of committees.

4. The order of business at specially called meetings shall be that set forth in the call for those meetings.

5. The order of business at regular or specially called meetings may be changed by motion to suspend the rules approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

B. Voting

Voting on matters before the Faculty Senate for routine matters such as approval of minutes or when a roll call is effected shall normally be by "ayes" and "nays" (voice vote or show of hands). All other voting shall be anonymous by either electronic means or by written ballot. [2015] A roll call vote may be requested by any five voting Senators and shall be instituted if approved by two-thirds of the voting members present, except in the election of officers, which shall always be by closed vote. In the event that a roll call vote is taken, the vote of each individual Senator shall be recorded by the Vice Chair in the minutes of that meeting. [2003] [2006]

C. Election of Officers

  1. Prior to the meeting when elections of officers of the Faculty Senate are regularly scheduled, the Chair of the Senate shall appoint a nominating committee, consisting of one member from each School or College of the University. That committee shall nominate one or more persons for each office to be filled. Any voting Senator may also nominate any eligible person from the floor at the meeting at which the election is to take place. No second is required.
  2. Election of officers is by a simple majority of the votes cast. Voting shall be by secret ballot. In the event that more than two persons have been nominated for a single office and no person receives a majority of the vote, the name of the nominee receiving the lowest number of votes shall be eliminated and a new ballot shall be taken among those remaining. This procedure shall continue until a single nominee receives a majority.
  3. In the event that two or more nominees receiving the highest number of votes received an equal number of votes, the Chair shall announce that fact and a second ballot shall be taken after the application of the Faculty Senate Rules of Order, Article III., Section C. 2. above. If, following a second ballot, the votes remain equal, the Chair may, on its own motion, reopen the floor for additional nominations. In the event that two nominees with the lowest number of votes have an equal number of votes, the Chair shall announce that fact, including the names of those nominees, and shall conduct an additional ballot without dropping either name from the list of nominees. If, following this ballot, the tie vote shall still exist, and no other nominee shall have achieved a majority, the Chair may reopen the floor for additional nominations. The Chair may, at its discretion, order an additional ballot
  4. Nomination and election for the office of Chair-elect of the Senate shall be held first. Following the election of the Chair-elect, nominations and election of the Vice Chair-elect shall be held.
  5. In the event that a term is not completed by either the Chair or the Vice Chair, the Senate may elect the Chair-elect, the Vice Chair, or any other eligible Senator to fill the vacancy.

D. Motions Under New Business1

  1. A Senator or Standing Committee wishing to move under New Business shall communicate their proposed motions in writing to the Vice Chair of the Senate not less than 14 calendar days before the meeting at which the motion is to be made. The Executive Committee may provide a consultative role to the proposing Senator(s) to facilitate preparing the motion for presentation and debate. It shall be the responsibility of the Vice Chair of the Senate to communicate the proposed motion to the Senate membership at least 7 calendar days before the meeting at which it is to be proposed.
  2. A Senator or Standing Committee desiring to make a motion which has not complied with the notification requirements in the Faculty Senate Rules of Order, Article III., Section D. 1. above may do so as “new business” from the floor of a Senate meeting upon recognition of the Chair, but the vote may not be taken until a subsequent voting meeting.

E. Debate

The Chair may, at the outset of debate on any issue, announce a time limit for debate. This limit may be extended by a majority vote of the Senators present and voting.

F. Vice Chair

The Secretary of the Senate shall also serve as Vice Chair of the Senate. All references to "secretary" and "secretary-elect" shall change to the "vice chair and secretary" and "vice chair and secretary-elect." [2006] The Vice Chair and Secretary of the Senate is authorized to correct article and section designations, punctuation, and cross-references, and to make such other technical and conforming changes as may be necessary to reflect the intent of the Faculty Senate in connection with its Rules of Order. [2022]  


IV: Committees

A. Standing Committees

  1. The Executive Committee of the Senate shall appoint the following standing committees. The charge to each committee shall be that set forth in this rule.
    1. Academic Policies and Services. To be concerned with new schools, new programs and new degrees. To consider policies regarding academic honors, leaves, grants, promotions, departmental and divisional chairmanships, programs abroad, the academic calendar, career planning and placement, Vanderbilt University Library, Information Services, the bookstore, and the University Press.
    2. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. To be concerned with policies, programs, and practices that will ensure considerations of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Faculty Senate and in the University.
    3. Faculty Life. To be concerned with policies relating to wages and salaries, fringe benefits, management of investments, employment of non-academic personnel, faculty intellectual property including copyrights and patents, buildings and grounds, space, campus communications, traffic, parking, food services, and campus security.
    4. Faculty Manual. To be concerned with all changes and proposed changes to the Faculty Manual and changes in other University policies that have a direct bearing on the Faculty Manual. To be concerned with compliance and regulatory changes from federal/state agencies and other regulatory bodies that require revisions to the Manual. To be concerned with policy issues arising within the Colleges and Schools at Vanderbilt that require clarification of the Manual, especially where congruence between the Schools and University is concerned. To ensure that any changes to the Manual are clearly identified, communicated, and archived annually. [2015]
    5. Grievances. (formerly known as Professional Ethics and Academic Freedom [PEAF]). To be concerned with grievances arising under Part IV, Chapter 2, Section B of the Faculty Manual (those that arise from issues other than reappointment, tenure, and promotion).
    6. Senate Affairs. To be concerned with all matters pertaining to the functioning of the Senate. To be responsible for a continuing review of the Rules of the Faculty Senate, recommending new rules when appropriate, and assisting in the interpretation of existing rules. To consider proposed revisions of the Constitution of the Faculty Assembly and Faculty Senate when this duty is assigned by the Senate. To maintain at least yearly communication with the Staff Council leadership. To maintain at least yearly communication with the following university standing committees: Athletics, Calendar, Faculty and Staff Benefits, Religious Affairs, Technology Review, and Traffic and Parking.
    7. Student Life. [formerly known as Student Affairs]. To be concerned with policies relating to student matters including residential colleges, rules and discipline, student grievances, future composition of the student body, fraternities and sororities, intercollegiate athletics and club sports, intramurals, the Honor System, faculty-student relations, religious affairs, and the student health service.
    8. Strategic Planning and Academic Freedom. To be concerned with the impact of university-wide strategic planning on faculty self-governance and on the ability of faculty to perform their teaching, research and creative self-expression, service, and other professional responsibilities effectively. To be concerned with the policies regarding professional ethics, conscience, and academic freedom under Article II., Section C. 5 of the Senate Constitution.  [2012]  [2022] 
  2. The Executive Committee of the Senate will normally assign items to committees pursuant to the subject matter of the committee's charge. The Executive Committee may assign matters to any committee for its consideration in an effort to avoid an undue workload on any particular committee. The Executive Committee of the Senate may refer items to ad hoc committees named for the immediate purpose when those items do not fall within the charge of a standing Senate committee or when directed to do so by Senate resolution.

B. Duties of Committee Chairs

1. The duties of Chairs of standing Senate committees are:

  1. To be responsible for seeing that minutes of each committee meeting are kept and transmitted to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate.
  2. To maintain a permanent agenda for the committee and to inform the Chair of the Senate of agenda changes. To maintain a permanent agenda for the committee and to inform the Chair of the Senate of agenda changes.
  3. To prepare a final written report covering the work of the committee during the academic year. This report shall be made to the Senate at the end of the academic year and the Chair shall submit a copy of that report to the Senate Chair and Vice Chair.
  4. To prepare interim reports to be made to the Faculty Senate and to include in each report a short summary of its contents and a statement of what, if any, action is being recommended. The report should contain a recommendation for its disposition. Such recommendation may include, but is not limited to, transmittal to named parties or groups, filing for information in repositories generally available to the Faculty as a whole, or filing with University officers.
  5. To assist in seeking out non-Senators who might be interested in serving on Senate committees. Approval and appointment of these persons shall be by the Executive Committee of the Senate on the recommendation of the Committee Chair.
  6. To coordinate the work of the committee with the appropriate University officers and University committees. Since the functions of these officers and committees may change, the following relationships are illustrative rather than definitive.

(1) Academic Policies and Services. Reporting through the Provost: Calendar, Computer Resources Board, Institutional Biosafety, Lectures, Officer Education Advisory, Research Council, and Vanderbilt University Library Committee. Reporting through the Vice-Chancellor for University Relations: Archives. [2016]

(2) Faculty Life. Reporting to the Chancellor: Campus Security. Reporting through the Vice-Chancellor for Business and Finance: Radiation Safety, Traffic. Reporting through the Vice-Chancellor for University Relations: Patent Review. [2016]

(3) Student Life. Reporting to the Chancellor: Appeals, Human Relations Council, Intercollegiate Athletics and Campus Recreation, Intramurals, and Club Sports. Reporting through the Provost: Religious Affairs, Student Health, Undergraduate Financial Aid.

2. The duties of ad hoc committee chairs shall be as stated above, except as modified by their committee's charge. 

C. Relationship of Standing and Ad Hoc Committees to the Executive Committee

The standing and ad hoc committees of the Senate are designed to function in conjunction and cooperation with the Executive Committee, the only committee authorized to act and speak for the Senate officially. To facilitate and encourage communication with the Senate, any standing committee may respond unofficially to any specific request made to it directly by an administrative officer or recognized campus group. The Chair and the Vice Chair of the Senate should be immediately informed of any such request, whether or not a direct response is given. In making a response to such requests, a committee should make clear that the committee does not speak in any official way for either the Faculty or the Senate, and the comments given should be confirmed in writing, with copies being forwarded to the Chair and the Vice Chair of the Senate. If a committee feels that an official response to a request is desirable, it should refer the matter to the Executive Committee for action. The committee may request (1) that the Executive Committee take action; (2) that the Senate Chair refer the matter to the appropriate committee; or (3) that the Executive Committee prepare a motion for Senate action for establishing an official Senate position.



V. Ex Officio Members

The Constitution of the Faculty Assembly and Faculty Senate provides that "non-voting ex officio members of the Senate include the following: the Chancellor, the Provost, the Vice Chancellors, other administrative officers that the Senate may invite, and persons listed as such in the Senate Rules. In addition, the past Chair and Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate shall hold non-voting ex officio status for one year following the end of their term. At the beginning of the academic year, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate will consult with the Provost to invite no more than four administrative staff members as non-voting ex officio members for that year. Such administrators should be those whose responsibilities relate most directly to faculty matters. Non-voting ex officio members may participate fully in open deliberations. In instances where one person holds both non-voting and voting positions, the voting role takes precedence." [2010] [2016]

VI. Parliamentarian

The Executive Committee shall appoint, with the advice and consent of a majority of the Senate, a Parliamentarian whose duty shall be to become and remain familiar with the Rules of the Senate, with Robert's Rules of Order, and with the Senate Constitution. The Parliamentarian shall attend all Senate meetings, and shall give an opinion on the manner of conduct of proceedings when requested by the Chair. The term of the Parliamentarian, who may be selected from outside the Senate membership, shall run for one Senate year but shall expire automatically with the tenure of the Senate Chair in whose term the appointment was made. The Parliamentarian may be reappointed. If selected from outside the Senate membership, the Parliamentarian shall be an ex officio member of the Senate.

VII. Official Communications

A. Chancellor's Report

The Report of the Chancellor to the Senate, referred to in Article II., Section C. 6. of the Faculty Senate Constitution contemplates a statement of the University's response to Senate recommendations received since the last such report. It is also contemplated that the Report shall contain references to issues pending from previous years. Such references may include a request by the Chancellor that the Senate determine whether its recommendation remains in effect.

B. Official Reaction to Senate Committee Reports and Other Actions

University officials wishing to state their views on committee reports which have been submitted to the Senate may do so either (1) at a meeting of the Senate, if the official has floor privileges or has been granted floor privileges by majority vote of the Senate for that purpose, or (2) in writing, communicated to the Chair of the Senate. In the event that the latter alternative is selected, the communication or a summary thereof shall be read by the Chair of the Senate, or the Chair's designate, to the Senate and its contents or a summary thereof shall be published as part of the minutes of the meeting at which it is read.


VIII. Use of Senate Resources

A. Digital Resources

The Faculty Senate’s digital resources, including the Senate email list, the all-faculty email list, and the email address, are to be used solely for official Faculty Senate communications. 

B. All-Faculty Emails

Emails from Senators for distribution to the all-faculty email list are to be processed by the Executive Committee and require approval by the current Chair or Vice Chair and at least one other member of the Executive Committee. Approval of the distribution should be via email to the Administrative Manager of the Office of the Faculty Senate. 

C. Administrative Manager

The Administrative Manager of the Office of the Faculty Senate is available to help with administrative duties, operations, logistics and data management, accounting and finance duties, and communications. No Senator or EC member should request tasks of the Administrative Manager outside the usual duties.

IX: Caucuses

The delegation of each school may organize a caucus of that school to facilitate the establishment of positions on issues before the Senate. No caucus may adopt a unit rule to limit the right of its members to vote as they see fit. If a delegation organizes its caucus with formal rules, a copy of those rules shall be deposited with the Secretary of the Senate.

X: Amendments

  1. These rules may be amended by a majority vote of the Senate except as otherwise indicated herein.\
  2. Amendments to these rules shall be submitted to the Senate at a regular meeting at least three calendar weeks before they are brought to a vote. Amendments may be voted upon at a specially called Senate meeting if the intention to take such action is included in the call for that meeting.

XI: Entry into Force

These rules shall enter into force on the day they are passed by the Faculty Senate. A majority vote is sufficient to pass all provisions except those requiring a two-thirds vote for amendment, in which case a two-thirds vote is required for passage. These rules supersede and repeal all other rules heretofore passed by the Faculty Senate. They represent a complete codification of all existing Senate Rules as of their date of passage. [Adopted May 3, 1973]