Faculty Meetings

1. Attendance and Voting

The following members of the college have the right and responsibility to attend faculty meetings, with voice and vote: (1) the president, the provost and dean of the faculty, professors, associate professors, and assistant professors appointed to regular full-time or part-time tenured or tenure-track positions; (2) all individuals on non-tenure-track, renewable contracts, who teach regularly in the college curriculum and whose primary affiliation is with Amherst College; (3) all persons with visiting teaching appointments, for the duration of their appointment at Amherst College, provided that appointment is their primary professional responsibility at the time; and, (4) the following members of the administration: the dean of students, the class deans of students, the dean of admission and financial aid, the director of financial aid, the director of the library, the chief information officer, the director of the academic computer center, the director of health services, the director of the counseling center, the director of athletics, the registrar, and the director of the Mead Art Museum.

Questions before the faculty may be decided by unanimous consent, voice vote, or electronic ballot if requested by the chair or a faculty member.  Should an electronic ballot not be possible, a paper ballot may be used in its place (voted by the faculty, May 1990, amended April 16, 2019).

Faculty members on phased retirement retain the right to attend and vote in faculty meetings, though in their individual agreements with the provost and dean of the faculty they may determine not to do so.

2. Attendance Without Vote

a. Administration and Temporary Faculty. Interchange faculty members from other colleges in the valley or part-time appointees teaching on a per-course basis and retaining primary concurrent affiliation with another academic institution (including adjunct appointees and teaching assistants and associates) are welcome to attend meetings of the faculty with voice but without vote, as are contract coaches of the Department of Physical Education, and the associates and assistants of administrative officers named above, unless individually otherwise designated.

Other members of the administration are statutorily designated as guests at faculty meetings. They include: the chief financial and administrative officer; the chief advancement officer; the alumni secretary; the secretary and assistant or associate secretary for public affairs; the assistant or associate registrar; assistants to the president; the assistants to the deans, specifically the Wilson and Mayo-Smith interns in the admission office; and the Five College coordinator. Other guests may be invited to specific meetings of the faculty by the president with the concurrence of the Faculty Executive Committee. These persons, as guests, are not normally expected to participate in debate, although they may speak if questions are addressed to them.

b. Students. By vote of the faculty in October 1970, in order to provide improved communication of student sentiment concerning proposals originating in college committees whose membership includes students, student members of some faculty-student-administration committees and officers of the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) are invited to be present with the faculty during regular meetings of the faculty as participating, non-voting members of the meeting. Participation includes the right to speak and to make and second motions.

Student members of these committees and those officers of the Association of Amherst Students include: student members of the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP), the College Council, the Committee on Priorities and Resources, the Committee on Admission and Financial Aid, the Committee on Discipline, and the Library Committee, and the four executive officers of the student governing body. The editor-in-chief and the publisher of the Amherst Student are invited guests at faculty meetings for purposes of information.

3. Faculty Meetings

Normally, during the academic year, there are six regular faculty meetings that take place in October, November, December, February, March, and April on Fridays at 3:00 p.m. In addition, one meeting (known as the “convocation meeting”) is held before classes start at the beginning of the academic year, and another meeting (known as the “commencement meeting”) is held leading up to commencement. Faculty meeting dates for each academic year are set in the summer before the next academic year. Faculty meetings are usually held in Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall, though they may take place in other venues, as circumstances dictate. (Effective spring 2024, voted by the faculty May 2, 2023.)

4. Special Faculty Meetings

A special meeting of the faculty is held when in the opinion of the president or of the Faculty Executive Committee there is necessary business to be transacted. A special meeting may also be held at the request of eight or more members of the faculty.

5. Presiding Officers

The president of the college presides at meetings of the faculty. In the president's absence, the dean of the faculty presides. The dean of the faculty serves as secretary and may designate a recorder to keep the minutes of the meetings of the faculty. In the event that the provost and dean of the faculty is presiding at a faculty meeting, a member of the faculty will be asked to serve as secretary pro tem.

6. Quorum

The quorum for the transaction of business at a faculty meeting is met when the number of those required to attend, eligible to vote, and present at the meeting is greater than one-half of the number of tenure-line faculty, lecturers, and resident artists not on leave in a given semester.  Faculty on leave are not required to attend, but retain the privilege of attendance and vote; if faculty members attend a meeting of the faculty while they are on leave, they will be counted when constituting the quorum (voted by the faculty December 2017).

7. Agenda

An advance notice of the agenda of each meeting is normally sent to members of the faculty. Items not on the agenda may be discussed at any meeting and voted upon at any meeting of the faculty. Whenever possible, the minutes of the meetings of the Faculty Executive Committee held since the last faculty meeting and copies of all recommendations to be considered by the faculty will be sent to each member of the faculty with the agenda.

In October 1980, the faculty voted that: 
Except in a grave emergency, the Committee of Six (changed to Faculty Executive Committee as of July 1, 2022), in setting the agenda for a faculty meeting, shall not include any motion on a constitutional matter or a matter of policy unless it has assured that the motion, and the reasoning considered by the committee for and against it, will reach faculty members in time to allow reflection and informal discussion (normally by the Friday before the Friday of the meeting). This is known in local parlance as the Romer-Hawkins rule.

On the agenda and at meetings of the faculty, the usual order of business is:

a. Call to order 
b. Reading or review of the minutes of the preceding meeting of the faculty if they have not already been made available; approval of these minutes 
c. Reading or review of the minutes of the meetings of the Faculty Executive Committee held since the last faculty meeting if they have not already been made available 
d. Remarks by the President of the College 
e. Remarks by the Provost and Dean of the Faculty 
f. Election of committee members 
g. Consideration of recommendations made by the Faculty Executive Committee and/or the Committee on Educational Policy to the faculty
h. Consideration of recommendations from other committees 
i. Questions to the Administration 
j. Unfinished business 
k. New business 
l. Adjournment.


8. Rules of Order

The rules of parliamentary procedure as found in Robert's Rules of Order govern the meetings of the faculty in all cases to which they are applicable and when they are not inconsistent with the customs or regulations of Amherst College. A member of the faculty is designated as the faculty parliamentarian.

9. Voting

Those eligible to vote are defined in the section on faculty meetings above. Questions before the faculty may be decided by unanimous consent, voice vote, or electronic ballot if requested by the chair or a faculty member.  Should an electronic ballot not be possible, a paper ballot may be used in its place (voted by the faculty, May 1990, amended April 16, 2019). Abstentions are in order.

10. Concurrence of President

The concurrence of the president is necessary to all acts and resolutions of the faculty, unless, after non-concurrence, the act or resolution shall again be passed by a two-thirds vote of the faculty, a quorum being present, at the same or at the next succeeding meeting thereof. In all cases where there shall be a non-concurrence between the president and a majority of the faculty present at the time, the names of those voting on each side of the question shall be entered on the minutes, and each member shall be entitled to have entered on the minutes the reason for his or her vote.

11. Binding Nature of Decisions

All decisions of the faculty arrived at by vote in the meetings of the faculty shall be binding, and all members are expected to adhere to the spirit and intent of such decisions.

12. Confidential Nature of Meetings

Discussions at faculty meetings are confidential, and public announcements of decisions taken at faculty meetings should be made only by the president or the dean of the faculty. Students wishing to report on matters discussed by the faculty will consult with the dean of the faculty to ensure the degree of confidentiality deemed necessary by the faculty.

13. Minutes of Faculty Meetings

The minutes of faculty meetings are circulated to the faculty and staff of the college. As noted above, there is a general expectation of confidentiality regarding faculty meetings, which extends to the minutes. The minutes should not be shared with anyone who is not officially entitled to receive them (voted by the faculty May 2018).