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Elected Committee members and continuity of service

Bruce Carter

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The bylaws of my college were recently amended to try to ensure continuity on the standing committees whose members were elected by their respective academic departments or by the college faculty as a whole. The change was done to address the problem of continuity on the committees as people were leaving committees midterm (either resigning, failing to serve, or being granted sabbatical leaves). The Faculty Council (the Executive Committee of our Assembly) had adopted the practice of electing replacement members to serve full terms (rather than serving the remainder of a term) which resulted in entire committees standing for election rather than having some members continue. The assembly adopted the following amendment to address this issue:

3.11.e. In the event that a committee member is unable or unwilling to complete a term of office, the Faculty Council or the appropriate unit shall hold an election for a person to serve the remainder of the committee member’s term.

3.11.f. Every effort shall be made to provide for continuity on all committees. This is usually accomplished by staggering the terms of committee members so that not all members are replaced in a single election.

I find the language clear (anyone who can't, won't or chooses not to serve is replaced, for the remainder of the original term) by the unit that elected the member). The chair of our Faculty Council is, however, convinced that this "rule" does not apply if the person is taking a sabbatical or research leave as such persons could still return to "their office" to complete "their term."

The suggestion is that under such cases an election would be held to temporarily replace the absent member and that continuity would be served by having the original elected member return to the position automatically at the end of the absence, displacing the temporarily elected member. I would assert that this does not serve continuity as there are effectively two changes rather than one in terms that generally range from 2 to 3 years.

I would assert that the office belongs to the electing constituency (not the person elected to serve) and that failure to serve (for whatever reason) meets the spirit of the bylaws.

Ideas? I welcome feedback to help clarify this issue (which I don't see addressed in Robert's very clearly).




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Well of course you won't see this issue addressed in RONR. It's generated solely by your own bylaw provisions and questions as to how to handle such things as sabbaticals and research leaves.

In any event, when a determination has to be made in response to a properly raised point of order, the chair can rule on it, an appeal can be taken from that ruling, and the assembly will decide.


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