Bylaws of the Faculty Senate of Montana State University

Article I: Name

The name of this governance body shall be the Faculty Senate of Montana State University, hereinafter called Faculty Senate.

Article II:  Purpose

Section 1. Purpose.

Faculty Senate is the chief governance body of the faculty of Montana State University. Within the authority and constraints of the Montana University System powers as described in the Constitution of the State of Montana, Faculty Senate has the authority to frame policies, procedures and standards of the Faculty Handbook.  These policies, which are incorporated in and made part of the faculty member’s annual Professional Employment (Board of Regents) Contract foster a climate of academic freedom; promote consistency in tenure, promotion in academic rank, workload, and salary; uphold academic standards, and uphold standards and procedures of accountability concerning faculty ethics and responsibilities.  Faculty Senate provides a means for faculty and administration to interact and discuss University business including strategic planning, budgeting, curriculum, accreditation, and graduation requirements.

Section 2.  Policies.

Faculty Senate may develop policies and standards that promote, among other things:

          Effective and efficient use of University resources;

          General economic well being of faculty;

          Professional faculty development;

          Quality educational resources such as libraries, facilities, laboratories, and equipment; and,

          Optimal learning environments.

Article III.  Basis of Membership

There shall be voting and nonvoting members of Faculty Senate elected from their respective constituencies.

Section 1.  Membership.

A. Constituencies.  Individual constituencies for the purpose of electing Faculty Senators and alternates are as follows:

i. Each academic department at MSU that has tenured or tenurable faculty as well as a department head is a constituency.

ii. Each college that has tenured or tenurable faculty, wherein faculty are not further subdivided into departments, is a constituency.

iii. Non-Tenure Track faculty at Montana State University as a whole is a constituency.

iv. Gallatin College is a constituency.

v. The Emeritus Faculty is a constituency.

B. Voting Members.  Faculty Senators are the voting membership of Faculty Senate. Each senator must:

i. be a tenured or tenurable faculty member in the constituency they represent with an appointment of at least 0.50 FTE.

ii. not hold administrative appointments at the level of department head or above.

iii. not hold an administrative appointment of 0.2 FTE or higher.

Exceptions to the requirements for Faculty Senators:

i. Gallatin College Faculty- Gallatin College shall select one voting (1)

member and alternate from among the tenurable faculty of Gallatin College to represent their faculty.

ii. The Non-Tenure Track Faculty Senator must hold a contract position of one-year or more at Montana State University.

iii. Emeritus faculty shall select one (1) voting member and alternate to represent their faculty through an election among all eligible Emeritus Faculty.

Faculty Senate alternates shall be voting members of the Faculty Senate for any meetings they attend when the Faculty Senator for their constituency is not in attendance.

C. Nonvoting Members.

i. The Chair and Chair-Elect shall be nonvoting members of Faculty Senate.

ii. The Chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee shall be an ex officio nonvoting member of Faculty Senate.

iii. The Administrative Associate shall be an ex officio, nonvoting member of Faculty Senate.

Section 2.   Eligibility for Election to Membership.

Any member of the tenured or tenurable faculty is eligible for election as a senator or alternate representing their constituency.   All Emeritus Faculty members are eligible for election to be the senator or alternate representing their constituency.  Any NTT or Gallatin College faculty meeting the requirements in Section 1A is eligible for election as a senator or alternate representing their respective constituency.

Section 3.    Election.

A. Each constituency shall elect one Faculty constituent should they wish to be represented in Faculty Senate.

B. Eligibility to vote in the election of Faculty Senators and Alternates

Members of the tenured or tenurable faculty within their respective constituencies are eligible to vote in elections for a Faculty Senator and an alternate in their constituency, provided that the faculty member meets the requirements delineated in Faculty Senate Constitution, Article Three, Section One which specifies that the tenured or tenurable faculty member shall hold a 0.5 or greater FTE appointment.

Only members of the faculty of the NTT and GCP who hold a 0.5 or greater FTE within their constituencies are eligible to vote in the elections for the senator and alternate.

Only members of the Emeritus Faculty are eligible to vote in the elections for the senator and alternate representing the Emeritus Faculty.

Department heads and administrators are not eligible to vote in Faculty Senate elections.

C. Procedures for Electing Faculty Senators and Alternates.  All Faculty Senators and alternates shall be nominated and elected according to democratic procedures within their constituencies. Alternates shall be elected by the same process used to elect Faculty Senators.  No one person may be elected concurrently by more than one constituency.

D. Scheduling of Elections. Elections for Faculty Senate members and their alternates will take place beginning on the first Thursday of April through the beginning of the following Fall Semester. One-third (33%) of the faculty representatives shall be elected each year.  If a Faculty Senator or Alternate resigns or cannot fulfill required duties, an election within the constituency may be held to select a new Senator or Alternate to fill the vacated position.

Section 4.  Terms of Service.

Elected Faculty Senators and alternates shall serve a term of three (3) years and are eligible for re-election.  No Faculty Senator shall serve for more than two (2) full consecutive terms. A member who has served two (2) full consecutive terms must wait at least three years before being eligible for election.

Faculty Senate Alternates shall not be subject to the two (2) consecutive term limit. Terms served as an alternate shall not be counted in determining that faculty member’s eligibility for election as a Faculty Senator. Terms for Faculty Senators and alternates shall begin on the first Faculty Senate meeting of fall term following the election.

Section 5. Alternates.

Alternates represent a constituency when the elected member is unable to attend a meeting.   Elected members unable to attend a Faculty Senate meeting shall ask that their alternates to attend. If membership on the Faculty Senate or any committee thereof is specified by position (ex officio), the incumbent may designate an alternate to act in his/her place.

Section 6.  Vacancies.

If a seat is vacated during a term, an elected alternate may assume the seat or an election shall be held by the constituency to fill the remaining term of the senator and/or the alternate.

Section 7. Absences.

Any senator who is absent and does not send an alternate to five (5) Faculty Senate meetings during an academic year may be asked by the Faculty Senate Chair to resign. If this should occur, a replacement shall be elected as specified in Section 6.

Article IV. Duties and Responsibilities of Officers

Section 1.  Officers of the Faculty Senate.

The officers of the Senate shall be the Chair and Chair-Elect.  An Administrative Associate shall maintain an office for Faculty Senate.

Section 2.  Chair of Faculty Senate.

A. Duties and Responsibilities. The duties and responsibilities of the chair are to:

i. Preside over meetings of Faculty Senate and the Faculty Senate Executive Steering Committee.

ii.  Develop and approve agendas for the meetings of the Faculty Senate and the Faculty Senate Executive Steering Committee.

iii. Set the agenda and preside over meetings of the Leadership Meeting which takes place each week with the President and Provost.

iv. Attend all meetings of the Board of Regents as the official representative of Faculty Senate.

v. Prepare and approve an executive recommendation for the annual Faculty Senate budget, including release time, travel, and other appropriate items to be approved by the Steering Committee prior to being transmitted to the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

vi. Represent Faculty Senate and communicate information about its activities to Montana State University, the Montana University System, and the Montana Board of Regents.

vii. Provide Faculty Senate representation on university or MUS committees.

B. Term of Office.  The Chair shall serve for one (1) year. Each spring, Faculty Senate shall elect a Chair-Elect [see Section 3] who shall assume the office of Chair at the first regular meeting of Faculty Senate in the Fall following their election.  A Chair of Faculty Senate may be nominated as Chair-Elect.

Section 3. Chair-Elect of Faculty Senate.

A. Duties and Responsibilities.  The duties and responsibilities of the Chair-Elect are to:

i. Assume the duties of the Chair in his/her absence.

ii. Attend meetings of the Faculty Senate Executive Steering Committee as an ex officio member and preside over that body in the absence of the Chair.

iii. Serve as Chair of the Academic Programs Working Group.

iv. Represent the Faculty Senate on university or MUS committees as assigned.

v. Serve as a member of university committees when so designated.

vi. Attend Board of Regents meetings when possible.

B. Election.   The Chair-Elect of Faculty Senate shall be elected from among the membership of Faculty Senate by a majority of Faculty Senators in attendance at a Spring semester meeting near the end of the Chair’s term. The Chair-Elect shall assume the responsibilities of that position during the first meeting of Faculty Senate in fall term. At the end of his/her term as Chair-Elect, the Chair-Elect shall become the Chair of Faculty Senate.  If the Chair-Elect is unable to serve in the capacity of Chair, a new election shall be held in accord with Article IV, Section 4.  If neither a Chair nor Chair-Elect are able to serve as Chair, the Chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee shall oversee an election to fill these positions.

C. Term of Office.  The Chair-Elect shall serve for one (1) year unless the Chair-Elect fills a vacancy in the position of Chair.

Section 4.  Vacancies.

A vacancy in the office of Chair shall be filled by the Chair-Elect. A vacancy in the position of Chair-Elect shall be filled by a majority vote in an election among Faculty Senators.

Section 5. Administrative Associate of Faculty Senate.

The Administrative Associate is a Montana State University employee supervised by the Chair of Faculty Senate. The Administrative Associate is a non-voting member of Faculty Senate.  The Chair of Faculty Senate is responsible for conducting an annual evaluation of the Administrative Associate. The duties of the Administrative Associate are to:

i. Prepare and distribute the agenda materials for Faculty Senate and its standing committees and subcommittees.

ii. Prepare and archive the records of Faculty Senate and its standing committees and subcommittees.

iii. Count and certify written ballots.

iv. Process all petitions and referenda.

v. Record attendance at all meetings of the Faculty Senate.

vi. Receive all correspondence and transmit it to appropriate parties.

vii. Notify Faculty Senate constituencies when their elected seats become vacant at the end of a term. Notification is also necessary to new constituencies, should they be created. This notification must be made at least thirty (30) days prior to elections.

viii. Include proposals from standing committees and their dispositions in the end-of- year activity summary.

ix. Coordinate and implement Academic Administrative Reviews.

x. Undertake research and data gathering or analysis for the Faculty Senate Chair and Chair-Elect.

xi. Ensure continuity of activities between spring and fall terms.

Article V. Meetings

Section 1.  Calendar.

Faculty Senate will convene on the first full week of classes each academic year. Established meeting times for Faculty Senate during the academic year shall be scheduled by the Faculty Senate Chair. All regular Faculty Senate meeting dates will be posted on the Faculty Senate website prior to the meeting date.

Section 2. Open Meetings and Accommodations.

All meetings of the constituent membership of official Montana State University committees and boards shall be conducted in conformity with the MSU Open Meetings Policy (

A meeting room to accommodate the entire Faculty Senate shall be reserved and publicized each semester. The meeting room should also be able to accommodate additional attendees in accordance with the Montana State University open meeting policy.

Section 3.  Special Meetings.

Summer meetings of Faculty Senate may be called by the Chair as needed.

Special meetings of Faculty Senate may be called at the discretion of the Chair or at the written request of ten (10) Faculty Senators. The purpose of the meeting shall be stated in the call. Except in cases of an emergency, at least three days notice shall be given.

Section 4.  Notice of Meetings.

Notices of the meetings and agendas shall be electronically delivered to each Faculty Senator and alternates, all Deans, Vice Presidents, and the President no later than noon on Tuesday prior to the Faculty Senate meeting. These same items shall also be posted on the Faculty Senate website.

Section 5.  Agenda.

Agenda items shall be submitted to the Chair or Chair-Elect for consideration by the Faculty Senate Executive Steering Committee. Agendas for the Faculty Senate meetings shall be established and approved by the Faculty Senate Executive Steering Committee.

Section 6. Consideration of Policy and Procedures Recommendations.

All actions or recommendations shall pass or fail in Faculty Senate by majority vote. Policy recommendations require a first and second reading.

A. First Reading.  Any proposed policy recommendation, as defined in the Faculty Senate Constitution, Article One, Section Two, may be considered but not acted upon at the meeting at which it first appears on the agenda or at the first meeting at which it is brought up from the floor.

B. Second Reading.  The vote on a policy recommendation shall be taken at any subsequent meeting of the Senate.  A two-thirds (66%) majority of those attending the first reading may vote to suspend the requirement of a second reading and vote on a recommendation during first reading.

Section 7. Quorum.

A simple majority of the elected members of Faculty Senate shall constitute a quorum.

Section 8. Distribution of Minutes.

Electronic copies of Faculty Senate minutes shall be distributed to all members and alternates of the Senate, the President, Provost, Vice Presidents, and Deans, and the president of the Associated Students of Montana State University (ASMSU) and the Chair of the Staff Senate.  The minutes shall also be posted on the Faculty Senate website.

Article VI. Committees

Section 1.  General Provisions.

A. Committee Data Base.  A list of all Faculty Senate committees shall be posted on the Faculty Senate website.

B. Terms of Service.  The terms of service for all Faculty Senate committee positions are to be established by the Faculty Senate Nominating Committee.

C. Review of Committee Structure. The Faculty Senate Nominating Committee should periodically review the charge, structure and number of members on all Faculty Senate or University committees.  Recommendations for changes shall be presented to the appropriate governing body.

D. Vacancies.  Vacancies on any committee shall be filled as soon as possible by a new election or by the Faculty Senate Nominating Committee. Any member who is absent and does not send an alternate to five (5) committee meetings during an academic year may be asked by the chair of that committee to resign that position. Should this occur, a replacement shall be chosen to fill that vacancy.

E. Notification of Meetings.   Faculty Senate committee chairs are responsible for notifying all appropriate constituencies of the time and place of meetings and of agenda items.

F. Open Meetings.  All meetings of standing committees of the Faculty Senate shall conform to the Montana State University open meeting policy [see Article VIII]. Any written records of standing committees shall be available for public viewing except in the case of personnel matters. An individual who is not a voting member of a committee may participate in the discussion of committee business at the discretion of the committee chair.

G. Records of Committee Meetings.  If a committee maintains minutes of its proceedings, that committee's chair should file copies with the Faculty Senate Administrative Associate.  Committee reports to Faculty Senate shall be included in Faculty Senate minutes.

H. Voting.  All committee actions or recommendations shall pass or fail by majority vote at the Faculty Senate committee level.

I. Quorum.  A quorum shall consist of a majority of committee members.

J. Resignation of Standing Committee Members.  If a committee member is unable to assume committee responsibilities, that member shall notify the chair of the committee, and thereby be considered to have vacated their position. [see Article VI, Section 1, “D”]

Section 2. Standing Committees of Faculty Senate.

A. Faculty Affairs. [see Faculty Handbook, Section 231] (new)

B. Executive Steering Committee of Faculty Senate [see Faculty Handbook, Section 271& 232 of Old FH]

C. Nominating Committee [see Faculty Handbook, Section 272]

D. Academic Programs Working Group[see Faculty Handbook, Section??]

Section 3. Faculty Senate Membership on University Committees.

A.  University Promotion & Tenure Committee [see Faculty Handbook, Section 241]

B.  Grievance Committee [see Faculty Handbook, Section 243]

C.  Faculty Senate may also chose to have representation on other university committees including:

i   Budget Council ii. De a ns’ Council iii.Planning Council iv.Research Council

v. University Graduate Council vi. University Council

vii. Curriculum & Programs Committee

Section 4.  Faculty Caucuses.

A. Research Faculty Caucus [see Faculty Handbook, Section 251] B. NTT Faculty Caucus [see Faculty Handbook, Section 252]

C. Wome n’s Fa c ult y Ca uc us [se e Fa c ult y Ha ndbook, Section 25?]* D.  Emeritus Faculty Caucus

Section 5.  Faculty Senate Participation on University-Wide Search Committees.

A. Participation in Searches for Permanent Administrative Positions.  The President shall request the Faculty Senate Chair to nominate faculty for membership on search committees to fill University administrative vacancies. The Faculty Senate Chair shall forward the President's request to the Nominating Committee Chair who shall advertise the openings at Faculty Senate meetings and through electronic means.  The Nominating Committee Chair shall forward nominees to Faculty Senate.  Faculty Senate will forward their selections to the President, who shall select the Faculty Senate representation from these nominees.

B. Participation in Filling Acting and Interim Administrative Positions.  Faculty Senate and/or Steering Committee shall participate in the screening and selection process for all acting and interim administrative positions.  The President of Montana State University shall confer with the Faculty Senate Chair to establish the means and timelines for Faculty Senate and/or Steering Committee participation.

Article VII.   Parliamentary Authority

The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised

shall govern the Faculty Senate subject to the Faculty Senate bylaws.

Article VIII.  Amendments

These bylaws may be amended at any regular meeting of the Senate by two-thirds vote provided that an amendment has been submitted in writing at a previous regular meeting. Amendments shall be effective upon adoption.


Adopted:         November 1996

Amended:       April 2004

Amended:       November 2014

Amended:       August 2016


A downloadable PDF of the Faculty Senate By-Laws can be found here.