Chapter 2 – Government of the University

Chapter 2 contents

2-A Administration

  • 2-A (1) Board of Trustees
  • 2-A (2) The President and Other Officers of the Corporation
  • 2-A (3) Academic Organization

2-B Faculty

  • 2-B (1) The Faculty Assembly, Academic Senate and Faculty Councils
  • 2-B (2) The Academic Senate
  • 2-B (3) Faculty Councils
  • 2-B (4) University and Senate Committees
  • 2-B (5) The Faculty Handbook

2-A Administration

Policies and practices of the University derive from the total body of the University’s charter provisions, bylaws, Board of Trustees resolutions, and Presidential directives by which the corporate staff is guided, as well as by policies and regulations initiated or recommended by the Academic Senate, the Provost’s Council, the Staff Assembly, and the Student Senate, as approved by the President.

2-A (1) Board of Trustees

The University of Southern California is a private corporation governed by a self‑perpetuating Board of Trustees not to exceed fifty members.  The organization and operation of the Board of Trustees are described in the Bylaws of the University, a copy of which is available at the University policies website, http://policy.usc.edu.

2-A (2) The President and Other Officers of the Corporation

(a) The Board of Trustees elects annually the officers of the corporation including the Chairman of the Board; the President of the University; Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Senior Vice President, Administration; Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer; Senior Vice President, University Advancement; Senior Vice President, University Relations; Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, Keck Medicine of USC; and Senior Vice President and General Counsel.  The Bylaws of the University provide in Section 6.5 (b) that

The Senior Officers shall have such duties as are set forth in these Bylaws and as are from time to time prescribed by the President of the University.

(b) Under the administrative structure of the University, all units of the University report directly or indirectly to the President.  Among the President’s responsibilities enumerated in the Bylaws of the University are the nomination of officers of the corporation (other than the Chairman of the Board); the selection of academic staff; academic programs and fiscal programs; and the enforcement of all rules and regulations of the University.

The Bylaws provide:

6.4   President of the University

6.4 (a) General.  The President of the University shall be elected by the Board.  He/she shall be the chief executive officer of the corporation in charge of all its operations.  He/she shall be responsible for carrying out policies established by the Board; but he/she may delegate any of his/her functions.  All of the officers of the corporation, except the Chairman of the Board, all administrative executives, and all academic officers of the University shall be subject to the direction of the President of the University.

6.4 (b) Recommendation of Nominees for Officers.  The President of the University shall recommend nominees for officers of the corporation except the Chairman of the Board to the Board Personnel Committee.

6.4 (c) Selection of Academic Staff.  The President of the University shall appoint the dean or director of each college or school of the University together with such division chairmen, department heads, or other division heads or assistants throughout the University as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the work of the University.  The President of the University shall determine the term of office and the duties of each such member of the academic staff.

6.4 (d) Academic Program.  The President of the University shall have full power of appointment, direction, and supervision of the faculties and the organization thereof.  He/she shall be an ex‑officio member of the faculty of each college or school and may, at his/her election, act as the presiding officer of each faculty and of the University Faculty.  He/she shall have the right to cast the deciding vote in any such group in case of a tie.  He/she may appoint such committees of any faculty as he/she shall deem wise and proper and shall be a member ex‑officio of all such committees.

6.4 (e) Fiscal Program.  The President of the University, with the advice and assistance of the other officers of the corporation, shall prepare or cause to be prepared an annual operating budget for the University.  Such budget shall be considered by the Finance Committee before presentation to the Board.

6.4 (f) Enforcement of Rules.  The President of the University shall be responsible for the enforcement of all rules and regulations of the University.

2-A (3) Academic Organization

(a) The Bylaws of the University describe its academic organization as follows:

8.1 General.  The President of the University shall appoint the following academic officers, who shall not be officers of the corporation:

(a) Academic Deans and Directors

(b) Division and Department Chairmen

(c) Such other Academic Officers as may be designated by the Board

2-A (3)(a) Academic Deans and Directors

(1) Academic deans and directors are appointed for no longer than a stated expected term (normally five years), and may be reappointed following an appropriate review and evaluation, all subject to section 6.4 (c) of the Bylaws which is quoted above in Section 2-A (2) and subject to section 2-A (3)(d) below.

(2) Appointments and reappointments of deans and directors are to be done in consultation with the faculty.  Of academic deans and directors, the University Bylaws say the following:

8.2 Academic Deans and Directors.  The academic dean or director of each college, school, or other administrative unit of the University shall, subject to the provisions of Section 8.1, be the chief administrative officer thereof and shall be responsible for the proper preparation and conduct of its educational program.  He/she shall continuously study the academic program and needs of his/her unit and shall make an annual report to the President of the University through the Senior Officer to whose immediate direction he/she is subject.  He/she shall supervise the progress and look after the academic welfare of the students of his/her unit and shall furnish such information concerning his/her school as may be requested by the President of the University.

2-A (3)(b) Chairs of Divisions or Departments

The chair or director of an academic unit shall be a tenured faculty member unless the Provost authorizes otherwise.  If the chair or director is untenured, then the Dean will designate a tenured faculty member to deal with all tenure-related issues.  He or she is appointed for no longer than a stated expected term (up to five years), but without prejudice to reappointment by the procedures as described below, all subject to section 6.4 (c) of the Bylaws which is quoted above in Section 2-A (2), and subject to section 2-A (3)(d) below.

Chairs or directors of academic units are appointed by the dean, with authority delegated by the President through the Provost, following full consideration by all faculty eligible to vote in the unit.  The chair or director is appointed by the dean, following selection by (1) election by all faculty eligible to vote or (2) thorough consultation with the faculty of the department and of related departments.  Appointments will normally be in conformity with department members’ judgments.  If, in extraordinary circumstances, conformity is not reached after such consultation and consideration, the dean shall consult with the Provost, who shall have the full and separate reports and recommendations of the departmental faculty, prior to decision, and will provide the dean and faculty the rationale of the decision.  Of academic unit chairs or directors, the Bylaws of the University say the following:

8.3 Division Chairmen and Department Heads.  The chairman or head of each academic division or department of each college, school, or other administrative unit of the University under its dean or director shall, subject to the provisions of Section 8.1, be its chief administrative officer.  He/she shall be responsible for the organization and maintenance of the work of his/her department and shall make periodic reports to his/her dean or director to furnish such information as may be requested.

2-A (3)(c) School Academic Administrators

Other school academic administrators (such as institute directors, department vice chairs, and section chiefs) also are appointed for no longer than a stated expected term (up to five years), but without prejudice to reappointment following an appropriate review and evaluation, all subject to section 6.4 (c) of the Bylaws which is quoted above in Section 2-A (2), and subject to section 2-A (3)(d) below.

2-A (3)(d) In General

Deans, chairs, and other school academic administrators do not have tenure in office; they serve at will, and their appointments may be terminated by the President or his or her delegate with or without cause.  Tenure as a faculty member is a matter of separate right.

2-B Faculty

2-B (1) The Faculty Assembly, Academic Senate and Faculty Councils

The faculty at large constitute the Faculty Assembly.  When convened in a general meeting, or acting through referendum, the Faculty Assembly is the ultimate body for determining faculty positions on academic and University issues.  It usually acts through its representative bodies, the Academic Senate and the school Faculty Councils, to debate issues and express faculty opinion to the University administration.

The Constitution of the Academic Senate describes the goals of these faculty bodies as follows:

The primary purpose of the Faculty Assembly, the Academic Senate, and the school faculty councils, is to contribute to the intellectual vitality of the University, to faculty governance, and to the faculty environment.  They are forums for faculty decision-making, and are the voice of the faculty in the making of university policy and the consideration of academic issues.  They strive to safeguard academic freedom, full academic due process, and the tenure system.  They also determine positions on faculty status, responsibilities and welfare, other important institutional issues, and any and all issues pertaining to the wellbeing of the faculty and the University.

2-B (2) The Academic Senate

According to its Constitution, the Academic Senate “is the representative body of the faculty at large for university‑wide issues.”  The Senate is described in the University Bylaws as follows:

9.4 Academic Senate The Academic Senate, as from time to time elected or designated by the faculty, shall be a deliberative and consultative body, with power to make studies, reports, and recommendations to the President of the University in any and all matters pertinent to the well‑being of the faculty.

2-B (2)(a) Academic Senate Constitution and Bylaws

The complete text of the Constitution of the Academic Senate, which sets forth the purposes and organization of the Faculty Assembly, the Academic Senate, and the school Faculty Councils, is available at the Senate website, https://academicsenate.usc.edu/documents/constitution/.

The text of the Academic Senate Bylaws is also available at the Senate website, https://academicsenate.usc.edu/documents/bylaws/.

The Academic Senate Constitution describes the Academic Senate as a body that shall, among other responsibilities,

seek to enhance the University’s intellectual vitality…, be the voice of the faculty in making university policy…, carefully monitor University issues…, [and] strengthen faculty participation in governance.

The Senate especially concerns itself with the processes by which major University decisions about personnel and academic policy are made, with a view to obtaining and disseminating information about such decision‑making.

Faculty members who accept their election to the Senate declare their individual commitment to work through it for the realization of these goals.

2-B (2)(b) Officer and Executive Board

As is provided in the Senate Constitution, the University‑wide executive officers of the faculty are the President of the Faculty, the Academic Vice President, the Administrative Vice President, and the Secretary General.  The President of the Faculty presides as chief executive officer of the Faculty Assembly, the Academic Senate, and the Executive Board.  The Executive Board serves as the channel of communication between the Academic Senate and the administrative officers of the University and may act for the Senate between meetings, if there is urgency.

2-B (2)(c) Members

Voting members of the Academic Senate are the President of each Faculty Council, any additional delegates from the Councils as specified by the Senate Bylaws, the executive officers of the faculty, and members at large of the Executive Board.  Non‑voting members are the chairs of faculty committees and, if authorized by the Bylaws, representatives of other university organizations.

2-B (3) Faculty Councils

The faculty of each school have established an elected council to participate in the governance of the unit and the University.  The elected faculty President of each school’s Faculty Council represents it as a member of the Academic Senate, as do additional delegates as designated by the Senate Bylaws with regard to the size of the academic unit.

2-B (4) University and Senate Committees

Provision is made in the University Bylaws and in the University’s current practices for a variety of bodies whose powers and duties are delegated by the President and are subject to the Bylaws and to the powers of the Board of Trustees.

2-B (4)(a) University Committees

(1) A system of University Committees is defined in the University Bylaws:

9.2 (b) Committees. The University Faculty shall be organized into committees.  These committees shall be appointed by the President of the University or, if delegated by the President of the University, appointed by: (i) the Provost and Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs; (ii) the Academic Dean or Director; or (iii) such other officer, administrative executive, or body as authorized by the President of the University.  Each shall meet at regular intervals during the academic year. Each shall appoint a secretary who shall keep a record of its proceedings. Each may make such rules of procedure, and provide for such subcommittees, as may be deemed proper.  The President of the University may appoint to any such committee one or more persons not members of the Faculty.

9.2 (c) Powers And Duties Of Committees. Each such committee shall perform such duties as may be fixed by, and shall have such powers and exercise such authority as shall be delegated to it by the President of the University.  The powers and duties to be so divided among, and assigned to, the various committees may

include the following powers and duties, subject to the approval of, and a power of review in, the President of the University, and subject always to the policies and directives of the Board in effect from time to time:

          (1)     To prescribe requirements for admission, courses of study, conditions of graduation, the nature of degrees to be conferred in course, and rules and methods for the conduct of the educational work of the University;

         (2)     To recommend to the President of the University persons to receive the awards of fellowships, scholarship, prizes, and grants-in-aid;

         (3)     To recommend to the President of the University candidates for Honorary Degrees;

         (4)     To investigate all cases of misconduct of students, and violations of rules of the University by students, and through the proper officers, to administer such discipline as they determine appropriate under the circumstances;

         (5)     To prescribe rules for the regulation of student publications, athletics, intercollegiate games, social and professional activities, and other student affairs;

         (6)     To recommend to the President of the University appointments to senior faculty ranks, and the grant of tenure;

         (7)     To review, at the request of the President of the University, the academic work of departments and programs of the University, and to make recommendations thereon to the President of the University;

         (8)     To conduct hearings on faculty grievances and on dismissals for cause, as provided in policies promulgated by the University, and to make recommendations to the President of the University for the disposition of such matters;

         (9)     To recommend to the President of the University policies concerning the libraries and information services, research, safety in research, and protection of human subjects;

         (10)   To make recommendations to the President of the University concerning business affairs, employee benefits, financial exigency, galleries, public art, convocations, patents and technology transfer; and

         (11)   To make recommendations concerning other matters as authorized by the President of the University.

(2) University Committees advise the President and work closely with those administrative officers and units of the University most directly related to the responsibilities of the committee.  Where appropriate, reports of University Committees are reviewed by the Academic Senate.

(3) Members of University Committees are selected by the President upon nomination by the Academic Senate and others.  The Senate acts through the Executive Board.  Members of some committees are jointly selected by the University and the Academic Senate.

2-B (4)(b) Academic Senate Committees

Academic Senate Committees are established by the Senate, with members and chairs selected by the Executive Board from the membership of the Faculty Assembly or others.  Committees report semi‑annually to the Executive Board with reports forwarded to the Senate for action or publication.

The Executive Board works to coordinate University and Senate committee selection and membership.

2-B (5) Faculty Handbook

(1) The Faculty Handbook will be made available to the entire faculty at the University web site.  Printed copies will be supplied to the offices of the Provost and the Academic Senate.

(2) The Senate has authority, derived from the University Bylaws, to make recommendations to the President in any and all matters pertinent to the well-being of the faculty, and therefore may propose any Faculty Handbook amendment it decides to endorse.

(3) The rules in the Faculty Handbook are intended to be applied reasonably in light of their purposes.

(4) Any proposed Faculty Handbook amendment submitted for Academic Senate consideration will be reviewed by the Senate Handbook Committee and the Executive Board, which will work with the Provost’s representative in a process designed to lead to a joint formulation by faculty and administration.  As part of this process, the Handbook Committee should seek other views and information, and the Provost’s representative should seek views and information from relevant university offices.  The rationale and text of a proposed amendment that is recommended to the Senate by the Handbook Committee and the Executive Board will be circulated to Senate members in advance of a scheduled Senate meeting.  Senate members are requested to submit suggested revisions for the proposed amendment to the Handbook Committee and Executive Board so that these can be considered in advance of the scheduled Senate meeting.  Any proposals to revise an amendment which are endorsed by the Senate without prior joint formulation will be reviewed as provided in the first sentence of the paragraph.  Subject to the University Bylaws and policies established by the Board of Trustees and the Trustees’ delegation of authority to the President, a joint formulation endorsed by the Senate and adopted by the President of the University will be incorporated into the Faculty Handbook.

(5) The Board of Trustees has specifically affirmed its endorsement and support of a collegial process of consultation and review in the development of amendments to the Faculty Handbook.  The Trustees’ policy in this regard states:

The Board of Trustees endorses and supports a collegial process of consultation and review in the development of amendments to the Faculty Handbook.  This process must include, at a minimum, the Academic Senate and Provost’s Council, and may also include representatives of other university constituencies which might be affected by such amendments.  To be sure, any amendments that are endorsed by the Academic Senate and approved by the President will be incorporated into the Faculty Handbook.  However, the University Bylaws make it clear that the Academic Senate is strictly advisory with respect to the President.  Thus, in the context of a collegial process of consultation and review, the policy of the Board of Trustees has been and continues to be that the President bears the final authority and responsibility for amending the Faculty Handbook.