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Departmental Bylaws

Bylaws of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry

University of Houston

Approved by vote of the Faculty, November 28, 2018

 

Section I. The Faculty

A. Membership

1. Full-time faculty shall consist of all Tenured and Tenure-track faculty, Instructional/Clinical Faculty with three years of continuous service, and Research Faculty with three years of continuous service, who are full-time University employees and devote at least 50 percent of their time to duties within the Department. Full-time faculty shall have full voting privileges.

2. Instructional and Clinical faculty are full-time non-tenure track University employees who primarily have instructional duties within the Department. They shall typically have a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and may be assigned ranks of instructional assistant professor, instructional associate professor, or instructional professor. They are generally paid from state funds. Instructional and Clinical faculty may apply for research and/or instructional grants if they obtain the approval of their department, college, and division of research.

3. Research faculty are full-time non-tenure track University employees who primarily have research duties within the Department. They shall typically have a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and may be assigned ranks of research assistant professor, research associate professor, or research professor. They are generally paid from research grants or other external funds and usually do not have formal teaching responsibilities. Research faculty may serve as Principal Investigator for external or internal research grants and serve as co-advisors on thesis and dissertation committees.

4. Research scientists and senior research scientists are non-promotion eligible positions that are generally paid from research grants or other external funds, and normally do not have teaching responsibilities.

5. Associate faculty consist of Jointly appointed and Visiting faculty, and other non-promotion eligible titles. They shall have a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and may consist of University or non-University employees who contribute to and participate in Departmental activities. Associate faculty generally do not have a voting right, although jointly appointed faculty may be accorded voting privileges by consent of the existing Full-time faculty and Department Chair.Within this group, only jointly appointed faculty are allowed to chair thesis and dissertation committees.

6. Adjunct faculty shall have a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and will typically be non-University employees who contribute to and participate in Departmental activities. Adjunct faculty will not have voting privileges. They may serve on thesis or dissertation committees but may not chair such committees.

7. Lecturers and instructors shall typically have a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree. They will have exclusively instructional duties and may be part-time. They will typically report to either a regular faculty member or an instructional faculty member. Lecturers and instructors will not have voting privileges.

8. Appointment of a Professor to Emeritus status shall be approved by the Chair and by the voting faculty of the Department. Nominations for Emeritus status may come from either the Chair or the faculty. Professors Emeriti will continue to be members of the Department but will not have voting privileges. Emeritus faculty may serve as Principal Investigator on external or internal research grants and serve as members and/or co-advisors on thesis and dissertation committees. They may also serve on Departmental committees but not the Promotion and Tenure Committee or the Policy Committee.

B. The Full-time and Associate faculty comprise the research and teaching staff of the Department. The Full-time and Associate faculty may participate in the supervision of the research training of graduate and undergraduate students and may serve on student thesis and dissertation committees. Only Tenured, Tenure-track, and jointly-appointed faculty may chair a thesis or dissertation committee.

C. New faculty searches shall be conducted according to the guidelines established by the University of Houston. A Search Committee appropriate to the open position will be appointed by the Chair to conduct each authorized faculty search. The committee will consist of Full-time faculty of any rank and may, if appropriate, include members of other University Departments. The Committee, in conjunction with the Chair, will coordinate advertising, review applications, select candidates for interviews, and conduct the interview process for candidates. All Search Committee members will vote on the candidates.

D . A favorable recommendation for a Full-time faculty appointment shall require a majority vote of the Search Committee and concurrence by the Chair.

E. Adjunct and Joint appointments shall have the consent of the faculty as a whole or the faculty in a Division. Research Faculty, Instructional faculty, Clinical faculty, lecturers and instructors will be appointed on an annual basis or, if qualified on a multi-year contract through a continuing employment agreement, by the Chair according to rules of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the University.

 

Section II. Officers and Administration

A. Department Chair

1. The Chair shall be appointed according to the Bylaws of the College of Natural Science and Mathematics. Full-time faculty shall be polled for their choice of Chair as provided by the College Bylaws.

2. The Chair shall provide academic and administrative leadership for the Department, preside over Departmental Meetings, perform such duties as assigned by the University or the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, supervise the operation of the Department, represent the Department in College and University affairs, and inform the faculty of events affecting the Department or welfare of the faculty.

B. The Vice-Chair shall be appointed by the Chair, and shall carry out such duties as assigned by the Chair. The Vice-Chair will serve as Acting Chair of the Department at any time the Chair is out of town, unavailable, or incapacitated and unable to administer the affairs of the Department.

C. The Chair shall appoint Associate Chairs for Graduate and Undergraduate Affairs who shall supervise Departmental efforts in those areas and perform those duties assigned by the Chair. The Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs shall serve as the administrative head of the Department if both the Chair and Vice-chair are absent.

 

Section III. Divisions

A. The Department shall be divided into Divisions which include faculty of similar research areas and interests. This will initially include the Divisions of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, and Ecology and Evolution. Faculty may belong to more than one Division, although they shall have a primary Division for administrative purposes.

B. Each Division shall be administered by a Division leader elected for a 2-year term by the faculty of that Division from nominations made by the Chair or the Division faculty. The Division leader shall serve as liaison between the Division and the Chair and shall oversee administration of matters specific to that Division.

C. The Division is responsible for developing the graduate curriculum for students in that discipline.

D. Faculty teaching responsibilities shall be assigned by the Chair in conjunction with the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs and the Division Leaders.

E. Each Tenured and Tenure-track faculty member shall select a primary Division. Appointment of new Tenured and Tenure-track faculty to a Division requires the consent of the Division. Faculty may also request membership in a second Division with the consent of the membership of that Division.

F. Instructional/Clinical and Research faculty may have appointments in one of the Divisions with the consent of the membership of that Division. They may also self-organize within their own tracks.

G. The creation of a new Division shall be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Full-time faculty.

 

Section IV. Committees

A. Standing Committees

1. The Policy Committee shall be chaired by the Chair and consists of the Vice and Associate Chairs, all Division leaders, one Instructional/Clinical or Research faculty member elected by this constituency for a two year term, and an At-Large member, elected by the Full-time faculty for a two year term. The At-Large member can come from any segment of the Full-time faculty. The Policy Committee will assist and advise the Chair in the administration of the Department, including the review of an annual budget prepared by the Chair. The Committee shall advise on matters of Departmental policy, overall planning and development of the Department, areas for new faculty hiring, faculty salary increments, and other Departmental business.

The Policy Committee will annually conduct reviews of all Tenure-Track faculty, and will appoint subcommittees with additional ad-hoc members to conduct annual reviews of Non-Tenure Track Faculty. The subcommittee for Instructional/Clinical faculty will be chaired by the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs and will include in addition at least two Instructional/Clinical Faculty members and one other faculty member, either Tenure-track or Non-Tenure Track, for a minimum of four members. The subcommittee for Research Faculty will be chaired by a member of the Policy Committee appointed by the Chair, and will include at least two Tenure-Track Faculty and at least two Research Faculty members, for a minimum of four members. Research Faculty members can be appointed from other departments in the College if suitable candidates don’t exist within the Department. Reviews will be done in accordance with Departmental policy. In the event of a faculty grievance or a merit increment appeal, the Chair will appoint a committee to adjudicate the matter in accordance with College and University policy. In the event of a disputed election or an unbreakable tie, the Policy Committee will select a special committee to adjudicate the matter.

The Policy Committee may also make recommendations to the Chair about space allocations and faculty and staff work schedules. This Committee will serve to assist and advise the Chair in all matters not specifically assigned to other Committees.

2. The Promotions and Tenure Committee shall be chaired by the Vice-Chair of the Department or a Tenure-Track faculty member appointed by the Chair of the Department, and shall consist of two tenured faculty members from each division, with the committee chair representing one of these, two Instructional/Clinical faculty members and one Research faculty member. If suitable Instructional/Clinical faculty members or Research faculty members do not exist within the Department, they may come from other departments within the College. All committee members will serve two-year terms. The Promotions and Tenure Committee shall recommend faculty promotions and tenure based on the evaluative material specified by the College and University. The committee may determine additional performance criteria for promotions subject to the approval of the Chair and the Full-time faculty. In order to apply to a specific individual, the criteria must have been in place and a description provided to each faculty member eligible for promotion at least three years before the anticipated effective date of the promotion. The committee shall also conduct mandatory progress reviews of non-tenured faculty. Tenure and promotion decisions are voted on by members of the Committee who are senior in rank to the candidate, although all members may participate in the discussions. Tenured Faculty members can vote on all decisions; Instructional/Clinical Faculty members shall only vote on Instructional/Clinical Faculty members; Research Faculty members shall only vote on Research Faculty members.

3. The Curriculum Committee, chaired by the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs, will be responsible for degree plans, development of long-range curriculum plans, designing new curriculum, creation of new courses, and supervision of Departmental core courses. The Committee will be composed of at least two Full-time faculty members from each Division. Matters regarding Graduate or advanced Undergraduate curriculum will typically be initiated at the Division level, but changes must be approved by the Curriculum Committee.

4. The Graduate Committee, chaired by the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs, will be responsible for graduate recruitment, recommend action on graduate applications and appointments, recommend awarding of assistantships, supervise the graduate program and administer departmental graduate exams if any. The Committee will be composed of at least two Full-time faculty members from each Division. Graduate program requirements will be proposed by the Graduate Committee and subject to consent of the faculty.

B. Other Committees shall be appointed as deemed necessary by the Chair.

C. Nominations for membership on each committee may be made by the Full-time faculty of each division or the Chair. An election by the faculty shall be held when there is more than one nominee for a seat on a committee. Instructional/Clinical and Research Faculty members may serve on any committee that falls within their areas of professional responsibility. Associate faculty may serve on any of the above committees except the Promotion and Tenure Committee. Membership on committees shall be for a 2-year term. Faculty may serve unlimited subsequent terms.

D. In order to provide for faculty leadership development the Chair will encourage and as appropriate nominate each Full-time faculty member who has been at the University at least three years to participate in and/or chair Departmental, College and University committees.

E. Open Departmental positions on the Faculty Senate and College Committees will be selected by a vote of the entire full-time (tenured and tenure-track) faculty.

 

Section V. Meetings

A. A departmental faculty meeting should be held as necessary, but no less than once per semester. Meetings may be called by the Chair or by at least four Full-time Faculty upon written request to the Department Chair. A quorum (simple majority of voting faculty in residence) must be present in order to conduct business.

B. Full-time faculty members unable to attend a meeting may vote in advance on a matter under consideration by submission of a written vote to the Chair.

C. Secret ballots shall be used if requested by any faculty member present.

D. Consent of the faculty shall mean approval by a simple majority of a quorum of the full-time faculty at a departmental faculty meeting or by a simple majority of votes cast in a written or electronic ballot, with at least one-third of the full-time faculty voting.

 

Section VI. Research

A. Each faculty member shall have complete freedom in choosing research objectives relevant to basic, applied, and institutional research within the ethics of their profession, and in accord with AAUP principles.

B. Full-time faculty shall be assigned office space and research space as appropriate within the Department. The extent and location of this space is at the discretion of the Chair.

 

Section VII. Promotions, Tenure, Dismissal

A. Eligibility for promotion and/or tenure will be determined according to the current Faculty Handbook and the Manual of the Board of Regents. Evaluation and review shall follow the written policies of the Department and the College.

B. Provision for termination or dismissal of any faculty member shall be in accordance with University guidelines as outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

 

Section VIII. Relationship to Other Governing Rules and Regulations

Nothing in these bylaws should be construed to supersede provisions of the Statutes of the University of Houston as described in the Faculty Handbook and other materials provided by the Office of the Provost or the bylaws of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

 

Section IX. Amending the Bylaws

Amendments to these Bylaws shall be submitted in writing to either the Policy Committee or the Chair and shall be approved by two-thirds majority vote at a faculty meeting at which a quorum of voting faculty are present or by a mail or electronic ballot, with proposed changes distributed at least two weeks in advance of the vote with approval by two-thirds majority vote with at least one-third of the full-time faculty voting.