Mathematics Department Bylaws

Approved Winter 2001; Amended Fall 2003, Winter 2007, Winter 2009, Fall 2010, April 2016

1. The Department Chair (Unit Head)

The GVSU Faculty Handbook details the responsibilities of the Department Chair (or Unit Head) as follows:

  • Areas the unit heads deal with include but are not limited to the following: fiscal matters; personnel matters; teaching, scholarly, & research activities; professional conduct matters; faculty absences; office assignments; meetings & communications; secretarial & technical services; faculty assignments; adjunct faculty; curriculum; library resources; course scheduling; student relations & advising; student help; equipment, facilities, & records.

The Department Chair is the main person dealing with administration in the department, making numerous decisions on matters small and large. The Department Chair shall serve for a 3-year term. Terms for Department Chair typically begin in years divisible by 3 (2016, 2019, and so forth).

The Department Chair has responsibilities during the full year. The Department Chair must be tenured.

1.1  Fiscal Matters

The Department Chair is responsible for all matters of the budget. On advice from the Advisory Committee, the Department Chair makes recommendations on salary adjustments to the Dean, following the Procedures for Annual Evaluation of Regular Faculty.

1.2  Personnel Matters

1.3  Teaching and Scholarly Activities

The Department Chair is a key person in defining the goals and direction of the department. The Department Chair should be a leader in teaching and scholarly activity and should encourage and support faculty in their professional work. The Department Chair is responsible for maintaining an active mentoring program for all new faculty members, including tenure-track, affiliate, visiting, and part-time faculty.

1.4  Professional Conduct Matters

The Department Chair should foster a high level of professional conduct on the part of the members of the department. The Department Chair ensures that allegations of inappropriate professional conduct are addressed in a manner consistent with University policy.

1.5  Faculty Absences

The Department Chair works with the Academic Department Coordinator to report faculty absences to the Dean in accordance with the department’s Absence Policy.

1.6  Office Assignments

The Department Chair assigns offices to tenure-track faculty in accordance with the department’s Office Assignment Policy. The Department Chair also assigns offices to affiliate, visiting, and part-time faculty.

1.7  Meetings & Communications

The Department Chair shall call and lead department meetings (see Department Meetings & Rules of Order) and shall distribute an agenda for all such meetings. The Department Chair will communicate important information to faculty in a timely manner and maintain a current and readily available calendar of department activities.

1.8  Secretarial & Technical Services

The Department Chair supervises the department’s professional support staff and is responsible for evaluating staff and for developing and enforcing office procedures.

1.9  Faculty Assignments

The Department Chair is responsible for faculty teaching assignments. While initial responsibility for tenure-track and affiliate faculty is delegated to the Assistant Chairs (see section 2.4), the Department Chair has ultimate responsibility. The Department Chair is in charge of staffing for visiting and part-time faculty. (See also section 1.13.)

1.10  Part-time and Visiting Faculty

The Department Chair, with input from the faculty, is responsible for the recruitment and selection of part-time and visiting faculty. The Department Chair will propose salaries for part-time and visiting faculty to the Dean.

1.11  Curriculum

The Department Chair works with the departmental Curriculum and Advisory Committees to maintain quality in the department’s curriculum and course offerings.

1.12  Library Resources

The Department Chair will collaborate with the Instructional Resources Coordinator on matters regarding library resources.

1.13  Course Scheduling

Annual scheduling of courses is delegated to the Assistant Chairs (see sections 1.9 and 2.3). The Department Chair is ultimately responsible for ensuring that course offerings are appropriate and consistent with departmental and university goals.

1.14  Student Relations & Advising

The Department Chair handles all student concerns and requests that fall outside the responsibilities of course instructors and academic advisors. The assignment of students to academic advisors is typically delegated to the Academic Department Coordinator, subject to approval by the Department Chair.

1.15  Student Help

The Department Chair is the formal supervisor of student help, although this responsibility is delegated to the Academic Department Coordinator.

1.16  Equipment, Facilities, & Records

The Department Chair is ultimately responsible for matters involving equipment, facilities, and records.

1.17  Search Process

The Department Chair is ultimately responsible for tenure-track and affiliate searches, with many administrative responsibilities delegated to the Search Committee (see section 3.7), or an ad hoc Affiliate Search Committee in the case of an affiliate search, and one of the Assistant Chairs (see section 2.1).

1.18  Assessment

The Department Chair is responsible for all required assessment reports and collaborates with the Assessment Committee to create such reports and to carry out the department’s assessment and planning activities (see section 3.2).

1.19  Liaison

The Department Chair is the primary liaison between the department and college, university, and community. The Department Chair regularly consults with the Dean and Associate Deans of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, communicating departmental issues, needs, and progress.

1.20  Other Responsibilities

All administrative duties not specifically listed elsewhere in this document are the responsibility of the Department Chair. The Department Chair may delegate responsibilities to the Assistant Chairs or other groups of faculty as appropriate.

Any group of faculty may request that the Department Chair appoint an ad hoc committee to address a pertinent issue. Also, any group of faculty may submit proposals publicly for discussion. The Department Chair may appoint an ad hoc committee to act on any such proposals.

2. The Assistant Chairs

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There are two Assistant Chairs to assist in the administration of the department. Each Assistant Chair shall be elected to a 3-year regular term. Assistant Chair terms will be staggered, with elections taking place in years without a Department Chair election. Each Assistant Chair must be tenured.

The responsibilities of the Assistant Chairs are listed in the sections below. At the end of each winter semester, the Department Chair will work with the Advisory Committee (which includes the Assistant Chairs) to determine how to divide the work for the following year between the two Assistant Chairs.

2.1  Chair of Search Committee

One of the Assistant Chairs is the chair of the Search Committee and is responsible for the search process, including scheduling meetings of the committee and communicating with the department.

2.2  Chair of the Personnel Committee

One of the Assistant Chairs is the chair of the Personnel Committee. The Personnel Committee chair is not active in visiting classes or writing draft reports but is responsible for the review process, including scheduling meetings of the committee, preparing and distributing reports, and communicating with the department.

2.3  Scheduling of Courses

The Assistant Chairs are responsible for creating the schedule of courses, with advice from the Advisory Committee. They are also responsible for maintaining the long-term Course Offering Plan and making it readily available. 

2.4  Staffing of Courses

The Assistant Chairs are responsible for determining the teaching assignments of tenure-track and affiliate faculty, with advice from the Advisory Committee and department members. Disagreements that cannot be resolved at this level will be handled by the Department Chair.

2.5  Social Events

The Assistant Chairs will work with the office staff and interested faculty to organize social events (including retirement and staff appreciation events) for the department.

3. Standing Committees

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Standing committees are charged with establishing and maintaining their own policies as they pertain to their internal procedures and timetables, including naming a committee chair. Unless specified in Items Requiring Department Approval, department approval of internal policies is not required. An ex officio member of a committee may vote only in the event of a tie.

3.1  Advisory Committee

Membership: Both Assistant Chairs, along with two additional tenure-track department members, elected to two-year staggered terms.

Charge: The Advisory Committee advises the Department Chair on various issues, including curriculum, scheduling and staffing of courses, and the yearly division of assignments among the two Assistant Chairs. The committee is also a critical part of the salary process (see Procedures for Annual Evaluation of Regular Faculty) and the review of workload plans. The committee offers assistance to those preparing sabbatical requests before they are sent to the department for approval.

3.2  Assessment Committee

Membership: Three tenure-track faculty members, appointed by the Department Chair to two-year terms. At least one member is deeply involved with accreditation for the department's teacher certification programs.

Charge: The Assessment Committee collaborates with the Department Chair to facilitate assessment and strategic planning efforts, including the preparation of required assessment and accreditation reports.

3.3  Curriculum Committee

Membership: Three tenure-track faculty members, elected to three-year staggered terms, along with one department member who is appointed by the Department Chair to a one-year term. (If no one who has significant interest and experience in math education has been elected to this committee, the Chair will appoint a person who fits this description.)

Charge: The Curriculum Committee provides leadership in the area of curriculum and oversees formal curriculum proposals that require a change in the university catalog. (See Procedures below.) In consultation with the Department Chair, the committee is authorized to make minor catalog changes that do not require approval of the College Curriculum Committee. The committee is also charged with processing transfer equivalencies.

Procedures for Curriculum Proposals:  Any faculty member(s) may initiate a curriculum proposal. The initiator(s) of a formal proposal will first bring a summary of the proposal to the Curriculum Committee. The Curriculum Committee will review the proposal and make a recommendation to the department.  If the department approves the proposal, the Curriculum Committee is charged to work with the initiator(s) to prepare the formal documents for submission to the College Curriculum Committee. Included in the charge will be whether or not the formal proposal needs to return to the department for approval before being sent to the College Curriculum Committee.

3.4  Foundations Committee

Membership: At least three tenure-track faculty members, appointed by the Department Chair to staggered three-year terms. Membership includes the MTH 110 Coordinator(s). If one or more affiliate faculty members are appointed as MTH 110 Coordinator, then these faculty will serve on the Foundations Committee in addition to the three tenure-track faculty appointed by the Department Chair.

Charge: The Foundations Committee coordinates the teaching of the department’s foundation courses (including MTH 097, MTH 110, MTH 122, MTH 123, and MTH 125), including selection of textbooks for foundations courses as specified in the Instructional Materials Selection Policy. The committee also conducts classroom observations of part-time and visiting faculty teaching these courses, as well as affiliate faculty who are under review for contract renewal (see section 1.2.b). The committee shares information on teaching and learning in foundation courses with the Department Chair.

3.5  Graduate Programs Committee

Membership: One or two tenure-track faculty members, appointed by the Department Chair to one-year terms.

Charge: The Graduate Programs Committee advises all students who are matriculated or interested in graduate programs related to mathematics. The committee coordinates development of current and future graduate programs.

3.6  Personnel Committee

Membership: Five tenured department members: three who are elected to three-year staggered terms, one who is elected to a one-year term, and one of the Assistant Chairs (ex officio). If needed, the Department Chair will appoint additional members in order to ensure that the committee includes both an Inclusion Advocate and someone with significant interest and experience in mathematics education. When the PC deems it necessary to have additional members in order to complete its obligations for a semester or year, it will notify the Advisory Committee by the end of the second week of fall semester.  If the Advisory Committee agrees with the need, there will be an election following the procedures outlined in section 5

Charge: The Personnel Committee facilitates the procedures for contract renewal, promotion, and tenure decisions as described in the Procedure for the Evaluation of Tenure-Track Faculty.

3.7  Search Committee

Membership: At least four tenure-track faculty members, including at least one Inclusion Advocate, appointed by the Department Chair, along with one of the Assistant Chairs (ex officio).  

Charge: The Search Committee handles all administrative details of searches for new, tenure-track faculty members, including making recommendations to the department. Before searches are initiated, the department decides what positions are to be filled. The department also makes the final recommendations to the Dean. 

Once an offer has been approved, the Department Chair communicates with the candidate and assists with any subsequent negotiations.

3.8  Student Affairs Committee

Membership: Three tenure-track faculty members, elected to 3-year staggered terms.

Charge: The Student Affairs Committee provides leadership in the areas of student advising and extra-curricular activities. The committee determines student scholarships and awards after seeking advice from the department. In addition, the committee works with departmental staff to plan and coordinate the student awards ceremony.

3.9  Diversity Advisory Committee

Membership: Open to all faculty who are interested.

Charge: The Diversity Advisory Committee advises the Department Chair on issues related to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

4. Course Coordinators and Other Positions

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For information on compensation, see Compensation for Course Coordinators and Other Positions.

4.1  Course Coordinators

The Department Chair will appoint course coordinators, on one-year terms, for MTH 110, 122, 123, 221, 222, and other multiple-section courses as deemed appropriate. Course coordinators will typically be tenure-track faculty members assigned to teach at least one section of the course they are coordinating. Affiliate faculty members are eligible to serve as course coordinators but are not expected to do so.

The primary role of a course coordinator is to maintain quality and consistency of instruction in multiple-section courses. Course coordinators schedule regular meetings with faculty and provide resources to support teaching and learning in the courses they coordinate.

The Course Coordinator Responsibilities document provides additional details pertaining to the coordination of specific courses.

4.2  Mathematics Tutoring Center Director

One tenure-track or affiliate faculty member appointed by the Student Academic Success Center in consultation with the Department Chair.

Charge: Direct the Mathematics Tutoring Center, including hiring, training, and scheduling tutors.

4.3  Math-in-Action Conference Director(s)

One or more tenure-track faculty members, appointed by the Department Chair to terms of negotiable length.

The Director(s) will chair the Math-in-Action Conference, with the assistance of other departmental faculty and staff, along with faculty and staff from other colleges and universities.

4.4  Instructional Resources Coordinator

One or more tenure-track faculty members appointed by the Department Chair to provide leadership and support to faculty in their use of instructional resources such as library books, periodicals, and technology. The Coordinator will assist faculty and the Department Chair in finding and making decisions on the purchase of computing and other technological resources.

4.5  Mentors

The Department Chair will appoint mentors for new tenure-track, affiliate, and visiting faculty, and to other faculty as needed. The Department Chair will oversee the mentoring process, including maintaining a mentoring plan.

4.6  Other positions

The Department Chair will regularly appoint other faculty members to assist with essential departmental needs, such as maintaining the department’s web site, coordinating seminars and colloquia, facilitating accreditation of teacher education programs, and advising student clubs and activities.

The Department Chair may, as needed, appoint individual faculty to other ad hoc positions for one or more years, with reasonable compensation.

5. Election Procedures

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5.1  Voting Eligibility and Beginning of Terms

Only tenure-track members of the department may vote in elections. Terms for elected positions begin on July 1. The beginnings of terms for appointed positions are at the discretion of the Department Chair.

5.2  Nomination Process

The Advisory Committee is charged to seek nominations to elected positions in a way that promotes broad faculty involvement in department governance and solicits the contributions of faculty members with diverse professional interests and experiences. Individuals may nominate themselves for committees or elected positions, and no one can be denied a position on a ballot, except in cases where tenure is required.

5.3  Election Committee

Each winter semester, the Advisory Committee will designate an ad hoc Election Committee of two department members to conduct the elections. Advisory Committee members may be on the Election Committee. The Department Chair is ex officio.

5.4  Election Procedures for Chair and Assistant Chairs

Each academic year, there will be an election for one of these three positions. The election for Chair must be completed by the first Friday in December, while an election for Assistant Chair must be completed by the first Friday in February.

For the position of Department Chair, there will be a meeting of the tenure-track faculty to ask questions of candidates and to discuss the future of the department. Before this meeting, each candidate is required to distribute to the department a statement addressing their interests and qualifications for the position. The details of the selection procedures will be drafted by the Advisory Committee, approved by the department, and filed with the Dean. Any changes to the selection procedures must be approved by April 1 of the second year of the incumbent unit head’s three year term.

For the Assistant Chair positions, statements will be required but there does not need to be a department meeting.

Election will be by secret ballot over a time period of at least one week. Ballots submitted after the announced deadline will not be counted.

If a candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, then that candidate will be declared the winner. If not, then the candidate receiving the least number of votes will be eliminated and another round of voting will occur.  (In the case where there are more than two candidates, and two or more candidates each receive the least number of votes, one candidate will be eliminated through a random event such as a flip of a coin.) This process will continue until one candidate receives a majority. For elections with more than two candidates, ranked ballots may be used to streamline the implementation of the process described above. In the case where each candidate receives the same number of votes, this result will be reported to the Dean without prejudice to any of the candidates. If a candidate runs unopposed, the candidate must receive approval of the majority who vote to be considered recommended by the Department.

The election results for Department Chair are advisory to the Dean. The Dean will make the final appointment, after receiving the election results from the department. The Dean has the authority to appoint the Department Chair or to direct the department to follow other processes not covered in these Bylaws. Further information about the selection of the Department Chair may be found in the Faculty Handbook, the CLAS Guidelines for Unit Head Evaluation and Selection, and the department’s Unit Head Evaluation and Selection Procedures.

5.5  Elected Committees

For membership on elected committees (see section 3), balloting will occur after the election for Department Chair or Assistant Chair and before the end of the winter semester.  The Election Committee, in a manner to be decided by the Advisory Committee, will conduct these elections. For elections with more than two candidates, approval voting will typically be used to determine the outcome.

5.6  Special Elections

From time to time, it will be necessary to hold a special election to complete the term of an office that was vacated or to fill a newly created position. The Election Committee, in a manner to be decided by the Advisory Committee, will conduct these elections.

5.7  Evaluation of the Department Chair

In the winter semester of the second year of a Department Chair’s term, the Department will conduct an evaluation of the Department Chair. As part of this process, a faculty member or administrator outside the department will facilitate a department meeting and prepare a final report for the department and Dean by the end of the semester.

Separate from the unit head evaluation, the department will have a discussion of departmental plans and goals for the next 3-4 years and the kind of leadership best suited to accomplishing these goals. If the Department wishes to request to search for an external candidate for the next Department Chair, this request must be approved by the Provost based on compelling strategic objectives that can only be addressed by an external search. All such requests must be made by the end of the winter semester of the evaluation year.

The details of the evaluation procedures will be drafted by the Advisory Committee, approved by the department, and filed with the Dean. Any changes to the evaluation procedures must be approved by February 1 of the second year of the incumbent unit head’s three year term.

5.8  Sabbatical Eligibility for Chairs and Assistant Chairs

The Department Chair and Assistant Chairs maintain their eligibility for sabbaticals as indicated in the Faculty Handbook. However, faculty in these roles will collaborate with each other and the Dean to schedule sabbaticals in a way that minimizes disruption due to discontinuity in leadership. While the Department Chair is on sabbatical, the Dean will appoint an interim Chair. For Assistant Chairs, there will be a special election for an interim Assistant Chair.

6. Process to Amend These Bylaws

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These bylaws were written with the idea that they would be rarely amended. For that reason, procedures for specific committees, which may change from year to year, have not been included. In the case where amendment is needed to sections 1 through 6, the following process will be observed.

Any tenure-track member of the department may propose to amend the bylaws. To begin the process, a specific proposal must be drafted and presented to the Advisory Committee, along with the signatures of one-fourth of the tenure-track members of the department. Proposals must be submitted by April 15, and then must be considered, with a vote, in a department meeting before the end of the following fall semester. A vote of two-thirds of the members present at the meeting is necessary to approve the proposal.

For situations not anticipated by these Bylaws, the Department Chair in consultations with the Advisory Committee will make any necessary decisions.

Page last modified August 28, 2017