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Bylaws, Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science


To define the rules and regulate the affairs of the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science

Applies to: 

Faculty and Staff within the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science

Table of Contents: 
Policy Statement: 

I. Decision-making and Voting rights
The decision-making body of the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science is the tenure-track and tenured faculty sitting as a Committee of the Whole.  According to the University Senate Code, student representation to the Committee of the Whole shall be no less than 20 percent of the faculty sitting as the Committee of the Whole.  For the election of the Departmental Chair, the right to vote is extended to the departmental office manager, the head of Cartographic and GIS Services, and the lead Computer Technician. Students are not permitted to vote on individual personnel decisions.

II. Standing Committees
The Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science has eight standing committees that serve in an advisory capacity to the Committee of the Whole and to the Departmental Chair.  The eight committees are the Faculty Affairs, Graduate Affairs, Undergraduate Affairs, Curriculum, Outreach, Colloquium, Diversity, and Executive, made up of the Chairs of all the other committees.  Committee chairs and members for each committee are appointed annually by the Chair in consultation with the Associate Chair and Executive Committee. To the extent possible, the composition of the Faculty Affairs Committee consists of a representative from each professorial rank and each department subdiscipline. Standing committees include one graduate student representative, except the Faculty, Graduate Affairs, and Executive committees, which have no graduate student representatives and the Diversity committee which has two graduate students and one representative from the staff. The following standing committees include two undergraduate representatives (one from geography and one from atmospheric science): Undergraduate Affairs, Curriculum, and Outreach. Faculty members normally serve no more than three years as chair of a committee.

A. Graduate Affairs Committee duties include:

  • Evaluate applications for graduate work
  • Evaluate applications for Honors or Self Fellowships
  • Evaluate new students for GTA positions
  • Revise materials sent to prospective students
  • Prepare recruitment strategies
  • Evaluate in-house students for GTA positions
  • Evaluate in-house students for dissertation or summer fellowships
  • Evaluate program sheets of all in-house students
  • Evaluate graduate students for relevant scholarships
  • Update graduate booklets
  • Evaluate all graduate student petitions
  • Assist with the placement of graduate students
  • Coordinate graduate assessment
  • Update graduate catalog copy

The chair of the Graduate Affairs Committee is the Graduate Director, who has the following duties:

  • Approves MA and PhD examinations
  • Reviews and approves graduate student petitions
  • Makes GTA course assignments in consultation with faculty involved

B. Faculty Affairs Committee duties include:

  • Evaluate and rank faculty proposals for sabbatical leave
  • Evaluate and rank faculty proposals for General Research Fund grants
  •     (Alternatively, the Chair may form a subcommittee for this purpose)
  • Evaluate faculty for professional progress and merit salary increases
  • Evaluate faculty for Post-tenure Review
  • Recommend committee makeup for individual faculty promotion, progress toward tenure, and tenure reviews
  • Maintain reduced load documentation on faculty
  • Recommend nominees for awards and prepare nomination files

C. Undergraduate Affairs Committee duties include:

  • Evaluate petitions by undergraduate students
  • Process graduation checks for undergraduate students
  • Coordinate undergraduate assessment and senior exit survey
  • Coordinate departmental Honors Program
  • Coordinate undergraduate advising
  • Evaluate undergraduate students for relevant scholarships
  • Update undergraduate booklet
  • Coordinates internships
  •     (Alternatively, the Chair may assign this task to some faculty member)
  • Coordinate Study Abroad
  • Update undergraduate catalog copy

D. Curriculum Committee duties include:

  • Entertain recommendations for course changes and new courses
  • Evaluate current degree programs (graduate and undergraduate)
  • Review forthcoming course schedules
  • Schedule classes
  • Update undergraduate brochure
  • Update graduate brochure

E. Outreach Committee duties include:

  • Coordinate Open House
  • Coordinate the annual graduation ceremony
  • Coordinate Geography and atmospheric science Awareness Week and GIS Day
  • Coordinate UCGIS relations
  • Update hallway displays
  • Responsible for news items, local and national
  • Coordinate development and maintenance of the departmental Web page
  • Provide advice to the Chair regarding the Advisory Board

F. Colloquium Committee duties include:

  • Schedule talks for the departmental colloquium series (normally held every other week during the fall and spring semesters)
  • Schedule brown-bag sessions during the lunch hour

G. Diversity Committee duties include:

  • Developing an environment for improved diversity
  • Assist in addressing diversity issues in the hiring process
  • Assist in addressing diversity issues in the student admissions process
  • Represent the department in addressing diversity issues to national organizations (e.g. the AAG ALIGNED project)
  • Identify and nominate potential minority scholarship candidates
  • Identify and address needs for mentorship and other support programs for faculty and students

H. Executive Committee duties include:

  • Act as an advisory committee to the Chair
  • Assist the Chair in executing any new programs or University initiatives

I. Selection of Alumni Board

  • The Alumni Board serves to assist the Department in:
  • Identifying education needs in the private sector
  • Assistance with tracking and outreach to Alumni
  • Interactions with current students to help them identify career paths
  • Fundraising
  • Membership selection are specified in the Board bylaws (Appendix 1)

III. Chair
The unit chairperson is typically appointed initially for a five year term under the provisions of the relevant Faculty Senate Rules and Regulations and CLAS Procedures for Selection and Appointment of Chairpersons/Directors within the College.  The chair is appointed by the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and serves at the pleasure of Dean. 

Duties of the chair include the following:

  1. Provides oversight and leadership for all unit activities, including outreach, and communicates useful information to faculty, staff, and students.
  2. Reviews and modifies the long-range planning for the unit as it concerns the unit’s curriculum, faculty support, outreach, and fund raising.
  3. Oversees all internal budgetary, administrative, and personnel matters and reports to necessary administrative units (CLAS, International Programs, KUCR, etc.).
  4. Seeks enhancement of all unit resources by actively seeking external funding.
  5. Administers the undergraduate and graduate academic programs of the unit and ensures that faculty are teaching the number of courses specified in their workload agreement. Handles academic misconduct cases.
  6. Supervises and reviews the unit’s faculty and professional, academic, and University support staff, and assigns merit salary increases.
  7. Develops and enhances research and educational relationships between the unit and other units within the University, as well as with agencies outside the University, governmental, public, or private.
  8. Executes University policy in the unit effectively.
  9. Represents the unit to CLAS and other University entities.
  10. Requests letters from external referees for promotion and tenure.
  11. Responsible for assigning faculty and staff to office space.        

IV. Associate Chair
The Associate Chair is selected by the chair in consultation with the executive committee. The Associate Chair serves a three-year term at the pleasure of the chair with a review conducted as part of the individual’s annual faculty evaluation.  In consultation with the Departmental Chair, the responsibilities of the Associate Chair include but are not be limited to:

  1. serves as Chair in the absence of the Chair or as a representative of the Chair when so asked.
  2. monitors courses for 6/12 compliance.
  3. serves in place of the Chair as ex-officio member of all departmental committees;  oversees departmental committees to see that they meet and provide timely reports to the Chair and the faculty.

V. Departmental Meetings
Departmental meetings generally are held at least once a month during the academic year and more frequently, if the occasion demands it. The meetings should be announced at least one week in advance, except in emergency situations. The departmental meeting is a primary means of exchange of information between faculty and the Chair. Additional information is also distributed by the Chair via e-mail. Faculty are required to attend faculty meetings. Faculty who cannot attend a faculty meeting should let the Chair know in advance.

VI. Budgetary Matters
Budgetary matters are primarily the responsibility of the departmental Chair, but the Chair is responsible to the Committee of the Whole.

VII. Hiring
The hiring of unclassified professional and university support staff is the responsibility of the Chair in consultation with the appropriate search committee.

Faculty hiring follows university and EO guidelines. When permission to hire a new faculty member is received from the College Office, a search committee is appointed by the Departmental Chair in consultation with the faculty. The search committee normally is composed of at least three faculty members from Geography and Atmospheric Science, and one faculty member from outside the unit. If the hire is a joint one (Geography and Atmospheric Science another academic unit), both departments select members for the search committee.  During a departmental meeting, the search committee presents a list of potential candidates to be interviewed; this list must be approved by the faculty before the names are submitted to the Dean and EO. Only faculty are permitted to vote on a faculty hiring decision.

VIII. Promotion and Tenure
Each new, tenure-track faculty member is mentored and monitored for progress annually.  It is the Department’s practice to identify a mutually agreed upon tenured faculty member to act as mentor to all new and untenured faculty.  The mentor monitors progress in teaching and research as well as grantsmanship.  A progress toward tenure review is normally conducted after a faculty member has been at KU for three years (two years if one year of prior service is given or one year if two years of prior service are given).  When a faculty member is ready to go forward for promotion and tenure, they put together their materials in conjunction with a senior faculty mentor.  As part of preparing the case, a list of suggested external referees is provided by the candidate and additional names are suggested by the department, in accordance with College guidelines, letters will then be solicited jointly by the Chair and the chair of the review committee.  The Chair and Associate Chair in consultation with the candidate and based on a recommendation from the Faculty Affairs Committee will appoint a three person tenured committee to review the materials for accuracy and completeness, and to prepare an evaluation to present to the full faculty (minus the candidate);  this is then voted upon by all tenured faculty in Geography and Atmospheric Science. In the case of promotion to full professor, at least one full professor should be on the committee. The votes are tallied according to guidelines provided by the University and College Committees on Promotion and Tenure and sent forward to the College. Mandatory post tenure reviews are processed by the Faculty Affairs Committee as part of the annual review process.  The Department articulates its standards and procedures for promotion and/or tenure in its Promotion and Tenure Procedures located in the policy library at: https://documents.ku.edu/policies/CLAS/PT_Procedures/GEOG.htm.

IX. Teaching Load
The standard teaching load for Geography and Atmospheric Science faculty is four courses per year (normally two per semester) unless special arrangements have been made with the Chair and approved by the Dean.

X. Advisor Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of each faculty advisor to be familiar with the academic requirements for majors and graduate students.  Copies of the undergraduate requirements (green book) and graduate requirements (red book) are available in the Geography office.  It is very important that advisors ensure that their graduate students have program sheets on file.  These program sheets should be updated every semester or at a minimum of once a year.  In addition, it is important to remember that the Graduate School requires three weeks’ notice for scheduling master’s exams, PhD orals, or PhD defenses.

XI. Sabbatical and Unpaid Leaves of Absence
The Faculty Affairs Committee does the initial review of all requests for sabbatical leave.  It may also be referred to for unpaid leave when this affects the curriculum.  Unpaid leaves of absence are normally requested of the Chair and approved by the Dean of the College.

XII. Adjunct/Courtesy Faculty (i.e., Affiliated Faculty)
An adjunct/courtesy professor’s term of appointment will be one and three years respectively.  An adjunct/courtesy professor has no vote in the department. There will be no more than two or three adjunct/courtesy positions from any one organization. An adjunct/courtesy professor’s appointment requires approval by the faculty and ultimately the Provost or the Vice Chancellor for Research.

XIII. Long-Range Plan
The department uses a long-range plan to guide its hiring priorities. This plan is periodically reviewed and updated and may be reviewed and updated at any time by a consensus of the Committee of the Whole.  A copy of the current long-range plan will be retained in the Department Office.

XIV. Faculty Evaluation Procedures
All tenure-line faculty and unclassified staff are evaluated once a year.  The Faculty evaluation procedures are described in the Faculty Evaluation Plan document, formally located in the policy library at: https://policy.ku.edu/CLAS-faculty-evaluation-plan-geography.

XV. Grievance Procedures
Pursuant to Article XIV of the University Senate Code and Articles V and VI of the University Senate Rules and Regulations of the University of Kansas, the Department has established procedures to deal with grievances arising within the Department.  These procedures are formally located in the policy library at: http://www.policy.ku.edu/CLAS/grievance-procedure-geography.

XVI. Post-Tenure Review Procedures
The Department articulates its post-tenure review procedures in its Post-Tenure Review Criteria and Procedures document formally located in the policy library at: http://www.policy.ku.edu/CLAS/post-tenure-review-geography.

XVII. New Courses and Curriculum
Changes in course offerings (new courses, course changes, or requests to delete courses) are brought before the Committee of the Whole for discussion and a vote.  These may be initiated by either an individual or a committee (normally Curriculum), but they must be voted upon to become effective. 

XVIII. Day-to-Day Operations
The daily operation and related paperwork of the Department is handled primarily by the departmental office manager and the Chair.  Issues that need to be dealt with by various committees or the Committee of the Whole are scheduled as agenda items for regular or special faculty meetings.  

XIV. Revisions to By-laws
Changes to these bylaws require a simple majority vote by the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science faculty for adoption and can be altered or discarded at any time by a majority vote of that body. Any proposed changes to the bylaws must be presented to all voting members either in written format (via email) or be proposed at a meeting previous to the vote.


Appendix I: KU Geography and Atmospheric Science Advisory Board – Charter & By Laws


The Geography Atmospheric and Science Advisory Board is focused on the needs of students. This includes connecting students to professionals, driving private sector involvement, and growing the Geography endowment to directly benefit students.


Board Members
The KU Geography and Atmospheric Science Advisory Board shall consist of at least 8 professional (non-KU faculty) members. At least two-thirds must be either graduate or undergraduate alumni of the University of Kansas. The remaining one-third can be any professional (non-student, non-faculty) with a strong commitment to supporting KU Geography and Atmospheric Science. The Chair of the Advisory Board must be an alumni professional member. In addition to the 8 professional members, the current Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science faculty Chair is always a member of the board. The Board can also appoint one or more current graduate and/or undergraduate student(s) as Student Liaison(s). All professional members plus the Department faculty Chair compose the voting body of the Board. The voting body must total an odd number. If the number is even, the newest Board member must abstain from voting. A voting quorum consists of one more than half the board members.

New board members will be selected as follows. Names of candidates will be submitted to the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science faculty Chair for review. The faculty Chair will then confer with the Board Chair and Board Vice-Chair. The faculty Chair will then approve or deny the candidate. KU faculty cannot be board members (other than the Chair of the Department), however the board can agree to invite one or more KU faculty as Faculty Liaison(s).

An alumni Board member can serve multiple (and consecutive) 2 year terms. The term starts as of the date of the face-to-face board meeting (usually April).  Renewal of each terms follows the same process for new board members (see above).

The Board Chair will serve a two-year term. The Board can, at any time, opt to replace the Board Chair. Two-thirds of the Board must be in favor of mid-term replacement. Selecting a new Board Chair requires majority vote. 

A Board Vice-Chair will be elected and serve a term concurrent with the Board Chair. The Board Vice-Chair function is to serve as substitute if Board Chair is not available to conduct business and as a voting member of the Executive Committee. The Board can, at any time, opt to replace the Board Vice-Chair. Two-thirds of the Board must be in favor of mid-term replacement. Selecting a new Board Vice-Chair requires majority vote.

Votes can be done using any means available: in-person, e-mail, phone, paper. Votes will be tabulated and documented in the Board records.

The Board must meet face-to-face once a year. In addition, the board can decide to setup additional meetings (by conference call or in person) as needed.

Executive Committee
The Executive Committee is authorized to conduct business in the name of the Advisory Board. The Executive Committee shall consist of the Board Chair, Board Vice-Chair, and Geography and Atmospheric Science Department faculty Chair.


Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science
University of Kansas
1475 Jayhawk Blvd
213 Lindley Hall

GEOG Chairperson

Approved by: 
Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science
Approved on: 
Friday, November 1, 2013
Effective on: 
Friday, November 1, 2013
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)


Bylaws, By-Laws, Standing Committees, Geography, GEOG, Program Review, ATMO, Atmospheric Science
Change History: 

04/16/2024: Formatting.
10/20/2015: Name changed throughout document from Geography to Geography and Atmospheric Science per Board of Regents approval of name change on October 10, 2015.
09/03/2014: Revised to include Post-tenure Review.
11/01/2013: Approved by the Geography Faculty.
05/03/2013: Updated.
04/25/2008: Updated. 
05/04/2007: Updated.
03/28/2007: Updated.
11/23/2004: Updated.
09/02/2004: Updated.
09/10/2003: Committee Duties updated.
01/29/2003: Approved in Departmental meeting.

School/College Policy Categories: 
Code of Conduct/By-Laws

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