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 appointments of longer than one year (article 35 of the Agreement).
  • One graduate student representative.
  • Two undergraduate student representatives who must be Honors, Majors or Minors 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 (SFU policy A12.04).
  • 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.

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.

         (a)     Undergraduate Studies Committee

         (b)     Graduate Studies Committee

         (c)     Resources Committee

         (d)     Library Committee

         (e)     Appointments Committee (in a year where a search for one or more faculty positions is expected)

         (f)      External Relations Committee

         (g)     Speakers Committee

 

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

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

 

4.0 Membership and Terms of Reference: Departmental Committees

4.1    Except for the Undergraduate Studies and Graduate Studies Committees, each of the departmental standing committees shall be responsible for electing its Chair from among its membership. An acting Chair may be appointed by a departmental standing committee in event of the absence of the Chair.

4.2    In the case of the Undergraduate Studies and Graduate Studies Committees, committee Chairs shall be ratified by all continuing faculty members in the Department, prior to the election of committee members. A committee Chair will normally be elected for a period of three years, beginning in the fall semester. Incumbent Chairs may stand for re-election. An acting Chair may be appointed by the Undergraduate Studies and Graduate Studies Committees in event of the absence of the Chair. An acting Chair serving for more than one semester shall be ratified by all continuing faculty members in the Department.

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

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

4.5    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    Undergraduate Studies Committee

4.6.1    Membership

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

4.6.2   Terms of Reference

  • To be responsible to the Department for the undergraduate teaching program of the Department, which includes continuing assessment of the effectiveness of the undergraduate program and recommending appropriate changes in that program for consideration by the Departmental Meeting.
  • 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.
  • The committee Chair will be responsible for assigning transfer credit to courses from other institutions, and will assist the Undergraduate Program Advisor in student advising, particularly with regard to academic content of courses and programs.

 

4.7    Graduate Studies Committee

4.7.1   Membership

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

4.7.2   Terms of Reference

•   To be responsible to the Department for its graduate teaching program, which includes continuing assessment of the effectiveness of the graduate program and recommending appropriate changes in that program for consideration by the Departmental Meeting.

  • To be responsible for the admission of graduate students.
  • To be responsible for the approval of supervisory committees.
  • 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.

 

4.8    Resources Committee

4.8.1   Membership

  • Three faculty members plus the Departmental Chair who shall be a member ex officio with normal voting rights.
  • One undergraduate and one graduate student.
  • SIS Lab Administrator, Manager Logistics and Technical Operations, Manager Academic and Administrative Services, non-voting.

4.8.2   Terms of Reference

  • Recommend space and equipment priorities to the Department Chair.
  • Recommend use of present space and project future needs in office, lab and teaching space to the Department Chair.
  • Make recommendations to the Department Chair regarding equipment, supply, repair, and alteration needs of the Department.

 

4.9    Library Committee

4.9.1   Membership

  • Two faculty.

4.9.2   Terms of Reference

  • The Chair of the Committee shall liaise with Library personnel.
  • To determine the Department's current and future library needs.
  • To be responsible for library orders, for receiving and acting upon suggestions for acquisitions, and for issues concerning access to information.

 

4.10 Appointments Committee[1]

4.10.1 Membership

  • Two faculty members, appointed by secret ballot, plus the Departmental Chair who shall be a member ex officio with normal voting rights.                  
  • Up to three additional appropriate faculty members that are nominated by the Departmental Chair, and approved by the Department.
  • One undergraduate student.  
  • One graduate student.
  • 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 Chair of the Department shall chair the committee unless the Dean approves an alternative arrangement (article 23 of the Agreement).

4.10.2 Terms of Reference

  • 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.
  • The Department Chair shall consult with the Appointments Committee on recommendations for the appointment of limited-term faculty.
  • The Department Chair shall consult with the Appointments Committee on recommendations for the appointment of Adjunct Professors and Associate Members and will bring such recommendations to the Departmental meeting for approval.

 

4.11    Speakers Committee

4.11.1 Membership

  • Three faculty members plus the Departmental Chair who shall be a member ex officio with normal voting rights.
  • Two graduate students

4.11.2 Terms of Reference

  • To solicit guest speaker suggestions from members of the department.
  • To schedule and advertise guest speakers.
  • When appropriate, to organize details of travel, accommodation, honoraria, etc. for guest speakers.

 

4.12 Strategic Planning Committee

4.12.1 Membership

  • Three faculty members plus the Departmental Chair who shall be a member ex officio with normal voting rights.                     

4.12.2 Terms of Reference

  • To advise and consult with the Chair on longer term department wide strategic planning related to issues such as new faculty hires, Research Chairs, departmental unity and vision, and broader programming initiatives.

 

4.13 External Relations Committee

4.13.1 Membership

  • Three faculty members plus the Departmental Chair who shall be a member ex officio with normal voting rights.                     
  • One undergraduate student.  
  • One graduate student.

4.13.2 Terms of Reference

  • To develop strategies for the better communication of the Department’s mission and accomplishments to the Department, University and wider community through improved external communication strategies, including the development of enhanced relations with alumni and adjunct and associate professors.

 

5.0    Establishment of Subcommittees and Ad Hoc Committees.

5.1    The Departmental 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 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.

[1] This committee will not be established unless a faculty search appears imminent. Should a search be required in a year when the committee has not be established, an ad hoc appointments committee will be formed at the recommendation of the Chair, to be approved by the Department.