About the Draft Constitution
For the past year, Pratt’s Academic Senate has been working in consultation with the President and Board to revise its governance documents in ways that make the Senate more representative, transparent, and efficient.
Offered as a compact between the Senate and its constituents, the Constitution lays out the essential democratic structure and processes of this organization of, by, and for its constituents. The Bylaws (to follow later) give details on Senate policies and procedures under the broad provisions established in the constitution. Bylaws are amendable by the Senate; the Constitution and its amendments must be approved by the Senate, its constituents, and the Board.
In Fall 2013, the Senate began discussions of issues such as representation, officers, and term limits. In Spring 2014, the Senate convened a Governance Committee, with ex-officio membership from the Office of the President, to facilitate this process. Committee members from the Senate and President’s Office met with Board Vice-Chair Mike Pratt in April 2014 to review Senate Bylaws and to discuss amendment procedures and timeline. A discussion draft of the Constitution was approved by the Senate on December 15, 2014, and circulated to all faculty, chairs, assistant chairs, and teaching staff through Pratt Commons and the Senate-sponsored Forum.
Noteworthy elements in this draft constitution include:
- departmental seats that ensure diversity of representation across the Institute and at-large seats for full-time faculty, part-time faculty, staff who teach, and chairs/assistant chairs (III.B.i);
- term limits for officers that balance continuity and change (VI.A.ii);
- an expanded Senate that includes non-voting representatives from the offices of the President and Provost, student government, and other areas of the Institute (III.B.ii);
- a Steering Committee that provides broad and diverse leadership for the Senate (V.B);
- new executive structure, including three vice-presidents, equal in authority and each with specific duties (III.C);
- rotating responsibilities among officers for chairing meetings and taking minutes (V.A.e);
- updated procedures for elections and for filling vacancies that ensure continued fairness and accountability (IV, VI.B);
- processes for recall of senators by their constituents (VI.C) and for referenda on any issues that constituents deem appropriate (VIII);
- provisions for direct ratification of the Constitution and its amendments by constituents (IX); and
- updates to ensure alignment with current Institute structures, policies, and documents.
The Senate scheduled Faculty Week IV for February 9–13 and collected online feedback at http://prattsenate.info/discuss/constitution-draft from February 1–March 1. A report on the comments is available at http://bit.ly/ConstCommentRpt.
In accordance with Institute Bylaws, comments from the Board and administration were solicited through the President of the Institute, who invited the Senate to present and discuss the draft at Senior Staff. Student Government Association and Chairs Council submitted statements supporting their inclusion on the Senate.
In response to this feedback, the Senate approved the following revisions on March 10, 2015:
- Proportional representation for large departments: Departments with the greater of 60 members or 50% of the membership of the largest department get an additional senator (III.B.i.a).
- Additional at-large seats: Addition of five at-large seats to each of full-time and part-time faculty, provided that each department is limited to one senator (III.B.i.b).
- Expanded “Chair/assistant chair” membership: Chair/assistant chair category shall include other academic-administrative titles, such as “Academic Director” (III.A.a).
- Eligibility for President: Only faculty members are eligible to serve as Senate President (IV.B.i.a).
- Deletion of automatic removal provision: Unexcused absences do not authorize removal; only constituents may recall a senator (VI.C.i).
A full version of the revised draft is available at http://bit.ly/ConstRevised.
The revised Constitution draft is scheduled for ratification from April 15 – May 12, 2015, before being sent to the Board for approval. If approved, it would take effect in Academic year 2016–17.
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- Brief History of the Senate (PDF version)
- Current Senate Bylaws
- Comparison of Current and Proposed Governance Provisions (PDF version)
- Diagrams: Current & Proposed Governance Structure (PDF version)
- List of Departments and Their Size, Fall 2014 (PDF version)
- Minutes of Governance Committee Meetings
- Resolution on Senate Governance Documents (PDF version)
- Resolution on Governance Committee (PDF version)
Brief History of the Senate (PDF version)
By joint action of the Board of Trustees, Institute President, and faculty, the Academic Senate was established in 1991. Its original bylaws that were ratified by the Board of Trustees in 1993. Since then, they have been incrementally updated, with the last amendments taking place in 2004. To address constituent needs and to meet changes at the Institute over the last decade, the Senate now proposes a reorganization and revision of our governance documents. The objective is to modernize and streamline the Senate without diminishing its fundamental role as the primary representative of faculty in Institute governance (see Faculty Governance Structure).
Comparison of Current and Proposed Governance Provisions (PDF version)
|Name||Academic Senate||Academic Senate|
|Representation||By department (or comparable academic unit) plus at-large seats for full-time faculty, part-time faculty, chairs and assistant chairs, and staff who teach||By school (and Library), subdivided into full-time faculty, part-time faculty, UG chairs, and G chairs|
|Term length||Three years||Three years|
|Term limits (senators)||None|
|Term limits (officers)||Maximum of two terms in one office; ineligible for that office for one term following (a two-term President is ineligible for all offices for one term)|
|Executive officers||President and three Vice-Presidents, each with specific duties||President,Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer|
|Procedures for recall of senators and officers||Yes||(Broad provisions in Robert’s Rules of Order)|
|Senate members||Voting: Faculty, Chairs and Assistant Chairs, Staff who teach or hold faculty rank
Non-voting: Representatives from offices of the President and the Provost, and from student government
|Nomination & election procedures||Specified in Constitution and Bylaws||Standards and procedures approved and periodically updated by Senate|
|Referenda by constituents on any issue they deem appropriate||Yes, initiated by 15% of constituents or two-thirds of senators||By vote of Senate|
|Main document requires approval by Senate||Yes||Yes|
|Main document requires ratification by constituents||Yes|
|Main document requires approval by Board||Yes||Yes|
Diagrams (PDF version)
List of Departments and Their Size, Fall 2014 (PDF version)
Minutes of Governance Committee Meetings
Minutes of Governance Committee meetings with extensive discussion of the constitution draft are available at http://prattsenate.info/minutes.
Resolution on Senate Governance Documents (PDF version)
WHEREAS, the Senate approved a notice of intent on October 1, 2013 to amend Senate Bylaws; and
WHEREAS, the current Senate governing document is approved by the Senate and the Board of Trustees; and
WHEREAS, ratification of its governance structure by constituents will further the Senate’s purpose as an elected, representative body; therefore, this 11th day of February, 2014, be it
RESOLVED, that the Senate restructure its governing documents into two:
- constitution, setting forth the foundation of the Senate’s structure, including its mission, membership, officer positions, and provisions for terms, meetings, nominations, elections, recalls, vacancies, and referenda; and
- bylaws, detailing the internal workings of the Senate including committees, fiscal and other policies, and standing rules and definitions as necessary; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the constitution be ratified by its constituency by a process specified within it before being submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval.
Recommended by the Executive Committee and Faculty Handbook Chair on February 10, 2014. Approved by the Senate on February 11, 2014.
Resolution on Governance Committee (PDF version)
The Ad-Hoc Governance Committee shall facilitate discussions of Senate governance, draft governance documents for consideration by the full Senate, and recommend procedures for governance amendment. The committee shall automatically expire on September 1, 2014 or the first Senate meeting of academic year 2014-15, whichever is sooner.
The voting members of the Ad-Hoc Governance Committee shall consist of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, APPC Chair, Faculty Handbook Committee Chair (all ex-officio) and two to seven senators appointed by the Academic Senate. Non-voting members shall be solicited from the Board and administration. The committee shall elect its own chair and a secretary.
The Ad-Hoc Governance Committee shall follow the same rules as the Senate, including quorum.
Approved by the Senate on March 11, 2014; renewed on September 5, 2014 for Academic Year 2014/15.