When student enrollment recovered from the Civil War and began to grow, major changes started to occur. New fields of study focused on the applied aspects of mathematics, biology, agriculture, engineering, and chemistry. The humanities established a separate professorship of English language and literature, as well as professorships of modern languages, history, and economics. By 1901 the medical school had expanded by offering a four-year course of study and a training school for nurses; faculty in business administration and law had increased as well.
The system of faculty ranks that we have today began in 1899 when an associate professor was appointed to help with instruction in romance languages. When the number of students grew too large for the professor of romance languages to instruct both undergraduate and graduate students, the work was divided and a junior professor was appointed to assist. With experience, these junior professors (also referred to as adjuncts) could become associate professors and, finally, a professor. In this way the faculty ranks diversified as the number of students increased. The undergraduate program became known as the College, and the graduate program was identified as the University.
The term “General Faculty” came into use around the turn of the 20th century. The faculty as a whole still governed the University, but committees of professors had assumed independent oversight of students and curricula in the various specialized areas of study, especially in the professional schools. Soon the General Faculty formally recognized and delegated its powers over students and curricula to these school faculties. After 1903 the faculty as a whole was known formally, as it is today, as the General Faculty of the University. As the number of administrative and supporting staff with faculty status grew after 1970, the term “general faculty” was used to identify those who were elected to the General Faculty of the University but not to the tenured ranks of faculty of the schools. Today, “general faculty members” are those who hold salaried faculty appointments but are not eligible for tenure. The General Faculty of the University still convenes once each year to approve the conferral of degrees.
The Faculty Senate
The Faculty Senate represents all faculties of the University with respect to all academic functions such as the establishment and termination of degree programs, major modifications of requirements for existing degrees, and action affecting all faculties, or more than one faculty, of the University. Additionally, the Senate advises the president and the Board of Visitors concerning educational and related matters affecting the welfare of the University.
The Faculty Senate is a representative body consisting of approximately eighty members elected from the schools. Its presiding officer is the president of the University. The president, the executive vice president and provost, the vice presidents of the University, the deans of schools, and the University librarian serve as ex officio members of the Faculty Senate with voice but without vote (except in the case of a tie vote, in which case the president casts the deciding vote). The Faculty Senate has an elected chair and an executive council. The chair has the power to call meetings of the Faculty Senate on behalf of the executive council.
The Constitution and By-laws of The Faculty Senate can be found online.
Faculty members whose primary responsibilities are teaching and research are elected to one of the following school faculties: architecture, arts and sciences, commerce, continuing and professional studies, education, engineering and applied science, business, law, leadership and public policy, medicine, and nursing. They hold tenured or tenure-eligible positions in their respective schools and are also members of the General Faculty of the University.
The faculty organization of each school consists of the president of the University, the dean of the school, and all professors, associate professors, assistant professors, and instructors in the school. The executive vice president and provost is an ex officio member of each school’s faculty but votes only in that school in which he or she holds tenure. Instructors, lecturers, visiting professors, individuals holding tenure-ineligible positions, and those appointed to research or clinical positions are voting members of the school faculties only if their school faculty grants them voting rights. A school faculty may nominate a faculty member of another school to its membership.
The College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences administers graduate degree programs in the basic medical sciences, the Ph.D. in Architectural History, the Ph.D. in Nursing, and all graduate programs of the departments in arts and sciences. Other graduate degrees are awarded by the respective schools.
Each of the school faculties formulates its own policies governing admission of its students, approves all courses, establishes all degree requirements, enacts and enforces rules governing academic work, approves candidates for degrees, and exercises jurisdiction over all other educational matters pertaining to that school, subject to the authority of the General Faculty of the University and the Faculty Senate in matters affecting general policy.
2.2 Faculty Role in University Governance
Authority for the governance of the University is vested by statute in the Board of Visitors by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The board’s responsibilities, specified by state statute, include but are not restricted to the appointment of the University president; appointment, promotion, and granting of tenure; removal of members of the faculty; the prescription of faculty responsibilities; the setting of faculty salaries; the determination of student tuition, fees, and other charges; and the government and discipline of students. The board prescribes the duties of the president, and the president has supreme administrative direction of the University, subject to the authority of the board. The board has delegated certain authority and responsibilities to the president and the chief academic officer, who have delegated certain of these responsibilities to the faculty.
University faculty members have played an important role in assisting the board in fulfilling its responsibility from the University’s founding to the present day. Through the work of the Faculty Senate, a representative body consisting of members elected from each of the schools, faculty recommend approval of the establishment of new degree programs and major modifications to existing degree programs. Faculties also approve the conferral of all degrees and oversee the development of curricula in their respective schools and departments. Each spring, the Board of Visitors appoints a non-voting advisory faculty representative to serve on the Board. In addition, Faculty members serve as non-voting consulting members on committees of the Board of Visitors, as well as on standing administrative committees of the University, including the University Policy Review Committee, which reviews administrative policies. The Faculty Senate also provides the executive vice president and provost with advice and counsel on other academic matters. Through all of these mechanisms, faculty members share their expertise and insights on academic matters with the provost, the president, and members of the Board of Visitors.