Departmental Constitution - revised 22 Mar 2018

Departmental Constitution

A.      MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University is to stimulate and promote excellence in geographic scholarship through:

  • dedication to the conduct, publication and broader dissemination of leading-edge research that matters;
  • commitment to undergraduate students to provide a learning environment that fosters knowledge, skills and experiences that prepare them for life in an ever-changing world, and engages, inspires and challenges them to become informed global citizens;
  • commitment to provide a research-based, mentorship model of graduate education, and to graduate masters and doctoral students who meet the highest international standards, and are skillful communicators, and informed and responsible global citizens and leaders;
  • service to the community by disseminating geographic knowledge and by providing geographic insights on important societal issues.

Members of the Department of Geography will strive to fulfill this mission in the spirit of co-operation and good faith. They will demonstrate a willingness to participate in departmental activities, to listen to the views of others, to negotiate differences, to accept departmental decisions democratically reached and to respect the humanity of others.

B.   DEPARTMENTAL RULES OF PROCEDURE

The Department of Geography shall be bound by all official Simon Fraser University collective agreements, policies and procedures.  Where there is no applicable University policy, the department shall be bound by the following:

1.0   Departmental Governance

1.1   The Departmental Meeting shall be the chief decision-making body of the Department, and its chief officer shall be the Departmental Chair elected in accordance with University policy in force at the time of election (see article 51 of the SFU Faculty Association and Simon Fraser University collective agreement, henceforth known as the Agreement).  In the absence of the Department Chair for a period longer than four weeks, a ratification ballot will be held to approve an Acting Chair.

2.0   Departmental Meetings

2.1   Departmental meetings shall be convened at least three times a year, with meetings in at least two semesters per year, by the Department Chair, or on petition of ten or more faculty members.

2.2   Where procedural issues cannot be resolved, Roberts Rules of Order will be consulted.

2.3   Membership

2.3.1   Voting Members:

  • Department Chair, ex officio chair with the tie-breaking vote if needed
  • All continuing (non limited-term) faculty members of the Department.
  • Limited-term faculty members with continuing appointments of longer than one year (article 35 of the Agreement)
  • One graduate student representative
  •  One undergraduate student representatives who must be an Honors, Major or Minor student in the Department

2.3.2   Non-voting Members:

  • Limited-term faculty members with appointments of one year or less (article 35 of the agreement)
  • Visiting faculty (article 1.4 of the Agreement)
  • Post-doctoral fellows
  • Professors Emeritus
  • Adjunct Professors
  • Associate Members
  • Departmental Manager, Academic and Administrative Services
  • Departmental Manager, Logistics and Technical Operations
  • Recording Secretary

2.4   A quorum shall be a number equal to 50% of the number of continuing faculty members in the Department, excluding faculty on leave.

2.5   Terms of Reference

2.5.1   To consider and make decisions regarding all matters requiring departmental approval.

2.5.2   A simple majority of voting members present is required to pass motions.

2.5.3   The full departmental meeting may exercise an option to hold a department-wide secret referendum or electronic referendum on any issue of substantive policy or procedural change and shall allow five working days for the return of ballots to permit sufficient time for off-campus members of the Department to respond.

2.5.4   If requested and approved by the voting members of the department, a scrutineer will be appointed to serve during the counting of submitted ballots.

2.5.5   Proxy voting is not recognized in any departmental votes.

3.0   Election of Standing Departmental Committees

3.1   During the spring semester of each year elections by secret ballot will be held for faculty membership in the following departmental committees for the academic year beginning in the fall semester (summer semester for the Communications and Events Committee).

        (a)     Undergraduate Studies Committee

        (b)     Graduate Studies Committee

        (c)     Appointments Committee

        (d)     Communications and Events Committee

3.2   Elections will be held by and from all continuing faculty members.  If there is imbalance in the membership or in faculty service, or if it is deemed that certain required skills are missing from a committee, the Department Chair will ensure appropriate balance, representation and/or skills.

3.3   At the beginning of each semester, the Geography Graduate Association (GGA) and the Geography Student Union (GSU) shall provide the names of student members to serve on applicable committees.

3.4   The election of, and terms of reference for, a Tenure and Promotion Committee shall be in accordance with articles 28-34 of the Agreement.

3.5   The members of the Strategic Planning Committee will be appointed by the Department Chair, and approved by the Department.

4.0 Membership and Terms of Reference: Departmental Committees

4.1   Except for the Appointments and Strategic Planning committees, standing committee Chairs shall be nominated by the Department Chair and ratified by all continuing faculty members in the Department, prior to the election of standing committee members. Such Chairs will normally be elected for a period of three years, beginning in the fall semester (the Communications and Events Committee Chair’s term will begin in the summer semester). An acting Chair may be appointed in event of the absence of the committee Chair. An acting committee Chair serving for more than one semester shall be ratified by all continuing faculty members in the Department.

4.2   Committee Chairs shall be regular voting members of their committees and shall not be confined to the role of tie-breaking.

4.3   A quorum for each departmental committee shall be 50% of its voting members.

4.4   Department committees may hold open or closed sessions.  Open sessions may be attended by all committee members.  Closed sessions are restricted to continuing faculty members of the committee.  Normally all matters pertaining to academic programs and policies will be conducted in open sessions with the exception that decisions concerning student progress or applications for admission will be made in closed sessions.  Any other exceptions to the norm may be made at the discretion of the committee, as expressed in a recorded majority vote of its members.

4.6 Strategic Planning Committee

4.6.1 Membership

  • Three faculty members plus the Department Chair who shall be a member ex officio, all with normal voting rights.       
  • Departmental Manager, Academic and Administrative Services (non-voting member)
  • Departmental Manager, Logistics and Technical Operations (non-voting member for resource and space advice only)

4.6.2 Terms of ReferenceTo advise and consult with the Chair on longer term department wide strategic planning related to issues such as new faculty hires, Adjunct and Associate members, Research Chairs, departmental unity and vision, resources, space and broader programming initiatives.

4.7   Undergraduate Studies Committee

4.7.1   Membership

  • The committee Chair, plus three additional faculty members, and the Department Chair who shall be a member ex officio, all with normal voting rights.
  • One undergraduate student member with normal voting rights.
  • The Undergraduate Program Advisor shall be the non-voting secretary to the committee.

4.7.2   Terms of Reference

  • To be responsible to the Department for the undergraduate teaching programs of the Department, which includes continuing assessment of the effectiveness of the undergraduate programs and recommending appropriate changes in those programs for consideration by the Departmental Meeting.
  • To be responsible for marketing and retention in the undergraduate teaching programs.
  • To be responsible for the evaluation, ranking and recommendation of undergraduate students for awards.
  • To be responsible for assigning transfer credit to courses from other institutions, and assisting the Undergraduate Program Advisor in student advising, particularly with regard to academic content of courses and programs.
  • To ensure representation of the Department on the Faculty of Environment Curriculum Committee, and other relevant Faculty and University committees.
  • To ensure representation of the Department on the provincial Geography Articulation Committee. 

4.8   Graduate Studies Committee

4.8.1   Membership

  • The committee Chair, plus three additional faculty members, and the Department Chair who shall be a member ex officio, all with normal voting rights.
  • One graduate student member with normal voting rights.   
  • The Graduate Secretary shall be the non-voting secretary to the committee.

4.8.2   Terms of Reference

  • To be responsible to the Department for its graduate teaching programs, which includes continuing assessment of the effectiveness of the graduate programs and recommending appropriate changes in those programs for consideration by the Departmental Meeting.
  • To be responsible for recruitment, marketing and retention in the graduate teaching programs.
  • To be responsible for the admission of graduate students.
  • To be responsible for the approval of supervisory committees.
  • To be responsible for chairing defenses.
  • To be responsible for the evaluation of graduate student progress.
  • To be responsible for the evaluation, ranking and recommendation of graduate students for scholarships and awards. 
  • To ensure representation of the Department on the Faculty of Environment Graduate Studies Committee, the Senate Graduate Studies Committee and other relevant committees.

4.9   Appointments Committee

4.9.1 Membership

  • Two faculty members, appointed by secret ballot, plus the Department Chair who shall be a member ex officio, all with normal voting rights.    
  • Up to three additional appropriate faculty members that are nominated by the Department Chair for each position, and approved by the Department.
  • One undergraduate student (non-voting).   
  • One graduate student (non-voting).
  • Secretary to the Chair as non-voting recording secretary, when requested.
  • In accordance with article 23 of the Agreement, both genders shall be represented on the committee.
  • The Department Chair shall chair the committee unless the Dean approves an alternative arrangement (article 23 of the Agreement).
  • In the case of a cross or joint appointments, the chair will nominate Geography's appointment committee members for ratification by the Department, the number of members proportionally reflecting the Department’s stake in the position.

4.9.2 Terms of Reference

  • To draft job descriptions
  • To examine and shortlist candidates for departmental consideration, and to arrange candidate interview schedules.
  • To present the name of a recommended candidate or a ranked list of candidates for departmental approval.

4.10   Communications and Events Committee

4.10.1 Membership

  • The committee Chair, plus two faculty members, and the Department Chair who shall be a member ex officio, all with normal voting rights.  One faculty member will be nominated by committee as the Alumni Contact.
  • Two graduate students with normal voting rights.
  • This committee to begin its work in the summer semester each year to establish the annual calendar of events by the start of the Fall semester.

4.10.2 Terms of Reference

  • To be responsible for mounting and advertising an annual calendar of events, including distinguished and guest speakers, travelogues and social events. To solicit speaker suggestions from members of the department. To schedule and organize events. When appropriate, to organize details of travel, accommodation, honoraria, etc. for guest speakers.
  • To develop strategies for the better communication of the Department’s mission and accomplishments to the Department, University, alumni and wider community and to implement them with the assistance of staff.
  • To be responsible for development of the content of the annual alumni newsletter and the alumni web pages for approval by the Department Chair.

5.0   Establishment of Subcommittees and Ad Hoc Committees

5.1   The Department Chair may from time to time establish ad hoc departmental committees as necessary.

5.2   All such committees are intended to be temporary and shall perform functions or conduct enquiries not normally in the purview of standing committees.

5.3   Membership in such committees may be of whatever composition and number are needed to fulfill the charge given them.

5.4   Standing Departmental Committees may from time to time establish such subcommittees or ad hoc subcommittees as they deem necessary.

6.0   Amendment of Departmental Rules of Procedure

6.1   Amendments to these rules of procedure may be proposed by any member of the Department. Approval requires a two-thirds majority of the number of continuing faculty members in the Department.

7.0   Periodic Review

7.1   The Department shall review these rules of procedure at least once every five years, and shall either ratify or amend and ratify them for a further five-year period.