Graduate School By-Laws

Contents

Preamble

These By-Laws are enacted by the voting faculty of the State University of New York at Binghamton to establish powers, organization, and procedures for the performance of its responsibilities for the conduct of graduate education as determined by the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York. The By-Laws of the Graduate School are derivative of the Faculty By-Laws of this University, the voting faculty of the University having delegated to the graduate faculty the authority necessary for its governance.

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Article I: Functions

Title A. General

The Graduate School of the State University of New York at Binghamton encompasses all graduate instructional programs offered in the constituent schools of Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Management, Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, College of Community and Public Affairs, and the Graduate School. The province and function of the Graduate School are the preparation of students for scholarly or creative study, advanced research, teaching, and professional leadership. The mission of the Graduate School is service to the community, region, state, and nation through the advancement of knowledge and its applications, and through the development of human resources.

Title B. Specific

  1. Through the graduate faculty and its legislative body, the Graduate Council, the Graduate School establishes policies and procedures for the conduct of graduate education offered by the State University of New York at Binghamton.
  2. The Graduate School constitutes an academic subdivision within the meaning and intent of Article II, Title C, and in fulfillment of Article VI, Title D, of the Faculty By-Laws of this University.
  3. The graduate faculty is responsible, individually and collectively, for the maintenance of high academic standards in all advanced degree programs offered within the Graduate School. Acting either collectively or through its legislative body, the Graduate Council, the graduate faculty is responsible for making recommendations to the Faculty Senate and the Administration for achieving the objectives of graduate education at this University.

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Article II: Membership

The graduate faculty shall consist of two categories:

  1. An ex-officio staff of members of the Administration who hold status as voting faculty under the Faculty By-Laws and whose duties and responsibilities bear significantly on the conduct of graduate education at this University Center. The ex-officio staff shall include the President of the University, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Research, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School (as presiding officer), the Associate Dean of the Graduate School, the Deans and Associate Deans of the several constituent schools of the University, and the Dean of Libraries.
  2. An academic staff consisting of those faculty members holding the ranks of Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor. 
  3. Members of the academic staff holding the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor may serve as members of graduate student thesis or dissertation committees. With the advice of the Academic Standards Committee, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School may approve exceptions to these restrictions in specific cases. Upon such approval, these individuals may serve as members, but not as chairs, of graduate student thesis or dissertation committees.
  4. Only faculty holding the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor may serve as instructors of graduate-level courses. Upon recommendation by the chair of the department and approval by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, other individuals may, in particular situations, serve as instructors of graduate-level courses.

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Article III: Organization and Procedures

Title A. Meetings of the Graduate Faculty

  1. Special Meetings: Meetings of the graduate faculty shall be called by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School if petitioned to do so in writing by at least 25 percent of the membership in residence.
  2. Agenda: Agenda for each special meeting of the graduate faculty must be announced and proposals for action must be distributed to the membership at least two working days before the meeting.
  3. Quorum: A quorum for regular or special meetings shall consist of two-fifths of the membership in residence.
  4. Minutes: Minutes of each regular or special meeting shall be prepared and distributed to the membership by the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School. In addition, permanent files will be kept by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School and posted on the Graduate School's website.
  5. Procedures: Procedure of the meetings of the graduate faculty shall conform to the most recent edition of Robert's Rules of Order and may be amended by the membership. The Parliamentarian of the Graduate Council shall serve also as Parliamentarian at meetings of the Faculty of the Graduate School.

Title B. The Graduate Council

1. There shall be a Graduate Council empowered to act for and to represent the graduate faculty.

2. The Graduate Council shall consist of 25 members (exclusive of ex officio members). This includes 10 members of the graduate faculty who are serving as directors of graduate programs at the time of their selection. These members shall be selected by a caucus of graduate directors of their college or school, or in the case of Harpur College of Arts & Sciences, the subdivision of the college. Program directors of interdisciplinary graduate programs shall also caucus and select a representative. These seats shall be distributed as follows:

  • Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Division of Fine Arts and Humanities: 1
  • Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Division of Science and Mathematics: 1
  • Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Division of Social Sciences: 1
  • School of Management: 0
  • Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences: 1
  • Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science: 2
  • College of Community and Public Affairs: 2
  • School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: 1
  • Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs: 1

Eleven additional members shall be elected from members of the faculty holding the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor and distributed as follows:

  • Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Division of Fine Arts and Humanities: 1
  • Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Division of Science and Mathematics: 1
  • Harpur College of Arts and Sciences Division of Social Sciences: 1
  • School of Management: 2
  • Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences: 1
  • Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science: 3
  • College of Community and Public Affairs: 1
  • School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: 1

The terms of faculty shall be two years with the terms staggered. This distribution should be reviewed periodically to assure fair distribution of representation.

The Graduate Student Organization shall annually appoint four graduate student representatives to the Graduate Council, including the President of the Graduate Student Organization and three others chosen such that the four representatives are enrolled in programs in four different colleges or schools. These graduate student representatives shall have full voting rights and privileges on all matters before the Council.

3. Membership and Voting Privileges

  1. All elected members of the Graduate Council shall have voting privileges.
  2. The following individuals will be the ex officio members with voting privileges: the President of the University, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Research, and the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.
  3. The following individuals shall be ex officio members with no voting privileges: the Dean of Libraries, the Associate and Assistant Deans of the Graduate School, the Associate Deans for Graduate Education of the several colleges and schools, the Associate Vice President for Research, and the University’s Chief Information Officer.

No person shall serve simultaneously as elected member and ex officio member.

4. Officers and Committees of the Graduate Council: A constitutive meeting of newly elected Council members with the existing Council will be held before May 15 each year.

  1. Presiding Officer: The Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School shall preside at the meetings of the Graduate Council as Chairperson of the Council. The Associate Dean of the Graduate School shall preside at Graduate Council meetings in the absence of the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School. 
  2. Committee Appointments: At its constitutive meeting, the members of Graduate Council shall indicate their preference for assignment to the committees. Using the preferences, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School will fill the committees and when necessary solicit additional committee members from faculty holding the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor; if necessary, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School will consult with members if some assignments are needed to achieve a better balance among schools. The Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School will then present to the Graduate Council a slate of committee assignments for final approval at the first meeting of the new academic year. 
  3. Parliamentarian: The Associate Dean of the Graduate School will serve as parliamentarian, who shall advise on matters of parliamentary procedure at meetings of the Graduate Council.

5. Standing Committees of the Graduate Council: The following committees shall have the responsibility to review on behalf of the Council all policy matters within their mandates and to recommend actions to the Council on those matters. The committees may also advise the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School on issues within their mandates, with the responsibility to report to the Council on the advice given.

  1. Graduate Budget Advisory Committee: Advises the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School on the allocation of student support resources; recommends policies with respect to graduate student support levels and duration of support; and advises the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School on other budgetary matters relating to the operation of the Graduate School. 
  2. Academic Standards Committee: Reviews and recommends to the Vice Provost and the Graduate Council criteria for graduate student admissions, academic standards for determining satisfactory progress, and policies and procedures for dismissal from the Graduate School; advises the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School regarding service of non-members of the graduate faculty as instructors in graduate-level courses or on student advisory committees; advises the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School on general academic policy matters within the Graduate School; and recommends to the Graduate Council all major revisions of general academic policy. Reviews By-Laws periodically and recommends revisions as needed. 
  3. Grievance Committee: Develops procedures and advises the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School on student and/or faculty grievances which properly involve the jurisdiction of the Graduate School and which are referred to the Vice Provost or the Graduate Council.
  4. Strategic Planning Committee: Reviews periodically the programs and curricula of the Graduate School and makes appropriate recommendations to the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School and to the Graduate Council regarding long-range and strategic plans for future graduate program development as well as operation of the degree approval process.
  5. Graduate Student Professional Development Committee: Reviews support for professional development for graduate students offered by the Graduate School and by graduate programs; identifies best practices in graduate education and makes recommendations to the Graduate Council for its consideration; evaluates nominations for Graduate Student Excellence Awards and makes recommendations to the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School.
  6. Diversity Committee: Reviews nominations for Clark Fellowships and makes recommendations for awards to the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School; makes recommendations to the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School and the Graduate Council on strategies to improve recruitment and success of first generation, economically disadvantaged, and underrepresented students at Binghamton University.

6. Membership on Standing Committees: The membership of standing committees shall be drawn from among the Graduate Council and faculty holding the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. Appointments of graduate students to committee membership shall be made by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School following consultation with the President of the Graduate Student Organization. The members of the Grievance Committee elect their chair. The Associate Dean, or designee of the Graduate School, serves as chair of the Academic Standards Committee, the Grievance Committee, and the Diversity Committee, unless the committees choose to elect a chair. The Dean, or designee of the Graduate School, serves as the chair of the Budget Advisory Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, and the Graduate Student Professional Development Committee, unless the committees choose to elect chairs.

7. Election to the Graduate Council: Election to the Graduate Council shall be in accordance with the following procedures:

  1. No later than February 15 each year, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School shall notify the college and school deans to request graduate directors in their colleges or schools to caucus to select a member from their college, school, or division to serve on Graduate Council. College and school deans shall communicate those selected to the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School no later than March 8.
  2. No later than March 1 of each year, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School shall request nominations for election of faculty to Graduate Council from deans, department chairs, graduate directors, and graduate faculty.
  3. No later than March 15 of each year, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School shall propose to the Graduate Council a slate of nominees from the faculty at large for election to the Council with terms of office beginning the first day of the next academic year. Names of other academic staff members shall be added to the slate of candidates, provided that each nomination is received by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School no later than April 1 of each year and is supported by a petition bearing the signatures of no fewer than 5 percent of the graduate faculty in residence. Council nominations shall be chosen from among the members of the academic staff so as to be broadly representative of the Graduate School's major academic sub-divisions. In preparing its nominations, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School should be cognizant of the distribution of continuing members of the Graduate Council among the various subdivisions. The total number of nominees appearing on the slate shall not be fewer than twice the number of academic staff vacancies identified on the Council for the ensuing academic year.
  4. No later than April 15 of each year, the slate of at large faculty nominees approved by the Council will be distributed by ballot to the full membership of the graduate faculty. All members are eligible to vote in electing members of the Graduate Council.
  5. Those elected shall include the individuals from each of the divisions of Arts and Sciences, and each of the professional schools, whenever these particular academic subdivisions do not have the stipulated numbers of continuing representatives on the Graduate Council, who receives the greatest number of votes. The remainder of the persons to be elected each year shall be those not elected by the above procedure that receive the greatest number of votes.

8. Interim Vacancy: Because of faculty sabbatical leaves, resignations, or other exigencies, it is to be expected that interim vacancies will occur on the Graduate Council. It shall be the responsibility of the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School to maintain the Council at full voting strength during each academic semester, acting in accordance with the following procedures: 

  1. An interim vacancy is defined as occurring when an academic staff member of the Graduate Council will be on sabbatical or other leave during an academic year or semester of his or her term, or when such member's resignation, retirement, or death occurs too late in the year for the vacancy to be filled through normal election procedure. The Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School shall be responsible for declaring the existence of interim vacancies.
  2. In all cases of interim vacancies of at least one semester's duration among faculty members elected at large, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School shall appoint an interim member of the Graduate Council for the specific period involved. The interim member will be selected from the most recent election ballot. In no case shall an interim member serve beyond the next regular election. If the interim vacancy leaves any of the academic subdivisions unrepresented on the Council, the interim member shall be selected from that subdivision and from the most recent slate of candidates if possible. Otherwise, interim members shall be selected from those persons listed on the most recent slate of candidates for formal election to the Graduate Council; whenever possible, they shall be selected from the same academic subdivision as the person whose departure created the vacancy. In the case of a vacancy among members selected from the ranks of graduate directors, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School shall request the graduate directors from the college, school, or division to name an individual to fill the vacancy. Interim members shall have full voting rights and privileges during their terms.

9. Powers and Responsibilities: Although it is desirable that the membership of the Graduate Council be broadly distributed among the major constituent academic subdivisions of the Graduate School, these By-Laws do not intend that members should act as unit representatives in the work of the Council. In keeping with the principle that the graduate faculty is a corporate association of individuals having equal rights and privileges within the Graduate School, rather than a federation of schools or departments, members of the Graduate Council shall be expected to exercise their individual judgment on behalf of the entire body of graduate faculty. The principal responsibilities of the Graduate Council shall be as follows: 

  1. To establish and review general academic policy for the Graduate School.
  2. To establish general standards for the admission of graduate students and for the satisfactory completion of advanced degrees.
  3. To review best practices in graduate education nationally and recommend practices and policies that ensure the quality of graduate education at Binghamton University.
  4. To review the graduate program development process and recommend changes to ensure its effectiveness.
  5. To review and make recommendations on financial support for graduate student travel and research awarded by the Graduate School.
  6. To review best practices and make recommendations on policies and practices that will enhance recruitment and success of first generation, economically disadvantaged, and underrepresented graduate students at Binghamton University.
  7. To review and make recommendations to enhance support for graduate student professional development and to improve graduate student life at Binghamton University.
  8. To recommend areas in which Binghamton University should explore development of new graduate programs.
  9. In support of graduate education on this campus, to undertake such other functions and responsibilities as it may deem appropriate when formally requested to do so by the graduate faculty, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, or program graduate committees.

10. Meetings: The Graduate Council shall hold its regular session once each month during the academic year. Meetings may be in person or virtual as announced in the agenda. Special meetings of the Graduate Council may be called by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, or by formal petition of at least 25 percent of the Council membership. Written notices of Council meetings or sessions shall be distributed to Council members and to the administrative offices of constituent schools and departments at least two working days in advance of such meetings or sessions. If 48-hours’ notice has not been given, a waiver of this requirement may be moved and passed by a two-thirds vote at the special meeting or session. 

  1. Members of the faculty holding the rank of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor shall have the right to attend all meetings of the Graduate Council as observers. Upon recognition by the presiding officer, any member of the graduate faculty may address the Council.
  2. When circumstances preclude their attendance at meetings, council members may designate any member of the graduate faculty (or graduate student representative, as appropriate) to attend Council meetings in non-voting observer status.
  3. Quorum: A quorum shall consist of one-half of the voting members, including all the duly elected, appointed, and ex-officio members.
  4. Electronic Voting: In unusual or time-sensitive circumstances, the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School may authorize a vote on motions be conducted electronically.
  5. Minutes: Under the direction of the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, minutes of each Graduate Council meeting shall be prepared and distributed to Council members. In addition, permanent files will be kept by the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School and posted on the Graduate School website. The Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School shall assign, from the personnel within the Graduate School, appropriate staff to keep minutes of Council meetings and perform other support functions needed by the Council. 
  6. Procedure: Procedures shall conform to the most recent edition of Robert's Rules of Order, and may be amended by the Council.

11. Power of the Graduate Faculty to Rescind, Repeal, or Amend an Action of the Graduate Council: Any action of the Graduate Council may be rescinded, repealed, or amended by the graduate faculty provided:

  1. A motion to consider an action of the Council carries by a majority vote of the members present at any meeting of the faculty of the Graduate School.
  2. Thereafter, a substantive proposal concerning the action being considered is discussed and approved, after which mail ballots and copies of the proposal are distributed to the entire body of the faculty of the Graduate School.
  3. A majority of those voting by mail ballot support the proposal, provided that at least two-thirds of the members of the graduate faculty in residence vote.
  4. Nothing in this section abrogates the power of the Graduate Council to rescind, repeal, or amend its own actions.

Title C. Program Graduate Committees

  1. Each academic unit responsible for administering master's and/or doctoral programs shall establish a program Graduate Committee. Program Graduate Committees are normally appointed by the unit chairperson or dean, unless unit by-laws specify an election procedure. At the discretion of each program unit, its matriculated graduates may be invited to select an appropriate number of graduate student representatives to serve as voting members of the program Graduate Committee. The voting privileges of graduate student members may extend to all general academic policy and curricular matters acted upon by program Graduate Committees; other specific roles and functions of graduate student members are to be formally determined by program faculty.
  2. Program Graduate Committees are organized to oversee special responsibilities within each academic unit. These include, as examples, the processing of applications for admission within general policies established by the Graduate Council; establishing regulations for programs of graduate study to ensure proper depth and breadth and the maintenance of high academic standards; and recommending to the Graduate Council changes in program curricula and degree requirements.
  3. Program Graduate Committees are subject to the authority of unit faculty by-laws within the general scope of the By-Laws of the Graduate School.
  4. Each college or school shall create a college or school-wide body to review and approve graduate courses, changes in curricula or degree requirements, or new graduate programs.

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Article IV: Adoption of and Amendments to the By-Laws of the Graduate School

Title A: Enabling Procedures

The initial adoption of these By-Laws shall require the approval of the voting faculty of the State University of New York at Binghamton, in accordance with the procedures set forth in Article VIII of the Faculty By-Laws of this University.

Title B: Amendments

After the adoption of these By-Laws, amendments thereto shall be recommended by the Graduate Council and/or by a special meeting of the graduate faculty and approved by a majority of the Faculty voting by ballot.
Final Approved Draft: April 17, 1980 Revised: June 5, 1981 Revised: January 26, 1988 Revised: December 13, 1988 Revised: February 21, 1990 Revised: December 9, 1991 Revised: September 12, 1994 Revised: April 11, 2001 Revised: May 10, 2004 Revised: February 7, 2007 Revised: March 25, 2021

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