Faculty Shared Governance Guidelines


The governance of Eastern Mennonite University is the responsibility of EMU’s Board of Trustees, administration, and faculty. Governance policy and procedure creates a framework for the various entities of the university community to participate in pursuing the mission and goals of the university. The Shared Governance Guidelines of the Faculty define the mission and responsibilities of the faculty regarding Faculty Meetings and Academic Council as participants in the governance of the university, and establish the policies and procedures of their operation in this capacity. These policies and procedures are intended to foster broad participation in curricular decision-making and academic policies and accountability among administration, faculty, and stakeholders in a spirit of mutual trust and respect. The faculty acknowledges that the Board of Trustees has the ultimate decision-making responsibility and authority. 

Note: The Philosophy of Decision Making and The Academic Division description in the University Governance section of the Employee Handbook clearly state the expectation for reporting decisions (with rationale) at all levels of decision making. Therefore, with these decision making guidelines, it is understood that decisions made at the level of Provost’s Council, President’s Cabinet and Board of Trustees are to be communicated back to faculty via the Academic Council. The model is to be one that fosters open communication at all levels

Article I: Vision, Mission, Values

The Faculty serves a university whose mission has been defined in the EMU Handbook as follows:

What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6:8


EMU prepares students to serve and lead in a global context.

Our community of learning integrates Christian faith, academic rigor, artistic creation, and reflective practice informed by the liberal arts, interdisciplinary engagement, and cross-cultural encounter.


We will open new pathways of access and achievement for all students who aspire to grow as unifying leaders equipped with intercultural competence, oriented toward peace and justice, and rooted in an active faith modeled on the life and teachings of Jesus. 


EMU’s mission and vision are grounded in the enduring biblical values of Christian discipleship, community, service, and peace.

These values are embodied throughout the university in our distinctive commitment to peacebuilding, social justice, cross-cultural engagement, and sustainability. Rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, we follow Jesus’ call to bear witness to truth, serve with compassion, and walk boldly in the way of nonviolence and peace.


Mission and values approved by EMU Board of Trustees, June 23, 2017.
Vision approved by EMU Board of Trustees, November 9, 2019.

Section 1. Faculty Meeting

The purpose of a Faculty Meeting is to create a forum for faculty to give voice to and to process curricular matters and academic policies, provide for faculty input to the decision-making process of the academic units, and give faculty opportunities to offer expertise and wisdom in the educational and spiritual development of students. A Faculty Meeting is comprised of all tenure track, annual contract, special faculty title contract, and dual contract faculty members at EMU. The Co-Chairs of Academic Council or a designee will prepare agenda and preside.

The Faculty Meeting is empowered to:

A. Meet and discuss any issue pertaining to the well-being of the academic unit.

B. Override a decision of Academic Council in the following way:

  1. Within two weeks of the decision, deliver a petition to the faculty co-chair of Academic Council calling for a meeting, signed by seven eligible faculty members who are not members of Academic Council.

  2. Within two weeks of the delivery of that petition, hold the meeting of faculty, with a quorum of 50% of faculty present. At that meeting, discuss and distribute (including electronically to all faculty) their proposal to override the Academic Council decision.

  3. Within three business days of the called faculty meeting, circulate an electronic ballot, with rationale, calling to rescind the Academic Council decision.

  4. A two-thirds majority vote of all eligible faculty is required to override the decision. The vote should be completed within 3 business days of the meeting. [e.g., if a referendum meeting occurs on a Monday, then electronic voting would be available until 5:00 pm on Thursday.]

Note: The exact number of faculty included in this group varies by year. The number to be used in determining a simple majority will be the number established by the provost’s office at the beginning of the school year. Adjunct faculty are welcome to regularly attend faculty meetings and participate in discussions; however, they do not have a vote.

Article II: Jurisdiction, Responsibility, and Membership of the Academic Council

The Academic Council will be the academic legislative body of the faculty and will act on behalf of the faculty in making decisions or approving recommendations that pertain to the curriculum or academic policies.

Section 1. The faculty are an integral component of the university structure and, along with the Board of Trustees and executive administration, are responsible for the well-being of the university community. The faculty are directly responsible for providing the quality of education provided at EMU, for supporting holistic personal development in students, and for conducting academic inquiry.

Section 2. The Academic Council exercises the delegated authority of the faculty. In representing the faculty and seeking the well-being of the academic units, the Academic Council is authorized to:

A. Approve academic policies

B. Approve curricular proposals arising from any school, center, or instructional site at EMU

  1. Approve Core curriculum proposals as recommended by the Core Curriculum Committee
  2. Approve Intercultural programs & proposals as recommended by the Intercultural Committee

C. Give counsel to Academic Deans as requested

D. Empower faculty representatives from each school to function as a liaison between this group and the faculty in the school

E. Convene a special Faculty Meeting as needed to present issues, invite broader discussion, or secure broad-based support.

Section 3. Membership. Academic Council will consist of:

  • Academic Deans 

  • 3 Program Director representatives from each school- to reflect the mix of programs in the school

  • Assistant Provost for Student Success

  • EMU Core Curriculum Director

  • Writing Program Director

  • Director of Intercultural Programs

  • CODI representative with faculty status

Academic Council will be co-chaired by one Academic Dean (chosen by the currently serving academic deans)  and a faculty member (selected by the other members of the Academic Council).

ex officio and non-voting members: Registrar, Library, Career Services, SGA president, Director of Academic Success Center

Faculty Senate representative (ex officio)if no member of Academic Council is also a senator.

Section 4. Appointment of Members. The Academic Deans, Assistant Provost for Student Success, EMU Core Curriculum Director, Writing Program Director, and Director of Intercultural Programs are members of the Committee based upon their positions.

The Program Director Representatives are elected by faculty (as defined above) in their school. The Academic Dean prepares the ballot, and elections are conducted at the final School meeting of each year. All Program Directors are listed on the ballot unless an individual requests to be omitted based on unusual circumstances. Program Director Representatives elected to the Academic Committee shall serve two-year terms and will represent the interests of their respective schools by attending Academic Council meetings and communicating the opinions and perspectives of the faculty in their schools. Program Director Representatives will report to the members of their respective schools on the work and actions of the Academic Council. See Academic Council Election Procedure.

Section 5. Meetings. The Academic Council will meet at least once a month during each semester of the regular academic year. All Academic Council meetings will be open unless an executive session is designated. Executive sessions will include only voting Members of the council.

The three finger vote (3-fully support, 2- can live with & support, 1-do not consent) has been adopted for use by Academic Council, to be reviewed every three years. Passage of motions and recommendations requires an affirmation of at least 80% of those voting members in attendance. The Dean’s offices will provide notice of formal actions of the Academic Council to all members of the Faculty by the end of the work week in which the action is taken.

A. Special Meetings. The Academic Council must schedule a special meeting at the written request of the University President or Provost, at the request of any five Academic Council members, or at the request of at least seven faculty members.

Article III: Faculty By-Laws and Amendments

Section 1. Amending these Guidelines may occur by the following process:

A. An initial review for congruence of the proposed amendment by Academic Council.

B. Recommendation of the Academic Council to a Faculty Meeting.

C. Approval by a simple majority of eligible faculty at a duly called meeting or by electronic ballot within three business days of the meeting.

D. Subsequent approval by the Provost’s Council, President’s Cabinet, and the EMU Board of Trustees.

Approved by the Undergraduate Faculty April 30, 2009
Guidelines approved by Undergraduate Faculty April 20, 2012; amendments approved by Undergraduate Faculty September 27, 2012.
Revised guidelines approved by Undergraduate Faculty September 28, 2015
Revised guidelines approved by Undergraduate Faculty, January 28, 2019
Revised guidelines vetted by Graduate Council March 30, 2020 and UGC April 1, 2020, and approved at Faculty Assembly April 13, 2020

Policy Review

This policy is to be reviewed by the faculty every three years.


Faculty/Staff Handbook