Department of Psychology Bylaws

Adopted: March 1999

Amended: April 2004; November 2007; March 2012; September 2013; March 2018; September 2019; November 2020; September 2023

Preamble: The purpose of the Department of Psychology bylaws is to provide a structure for departmental governance within the framework of the College of Arts and Sciences. The faculty of the Department of Psychology affirms its commitment to collegiality as the most effective basis upon which to manage the affairs of and maintain excellence within the department.



Membership: The Senate of the Department of Psychology shall consist of the faculty constituency of the Department, four representatives of the graduate constituency, four representatives of the undergraduate constituency, and the Assistant to the Chair. Student representatives shall be elected for one-year terms beginning in September by the respective student constituencies in an election conducted by the Department Senate.

Faculty: The faculty constituency of the Department of Psychology shall consist of all full-time Members of the academic staff of the university (ladder faculty, clinical/teaching faculty to include those employed under lecturer title, and senior research scientists) who hold Professorial rank in the Department of Psychology, and who contribute 50% or more.

Undergraduate Constituency: The undergraduate constituency of the Department of Psychology shall consist of all undergraduate students who are majors or minors in the Department.

Graduate Constituency: The graduate constituency of the Department of Psychology shall consist of all students who are formally enrolled in Department programs leading to graduate degrees in the Psychology Department. In cases where there is a question whether a student is formally enrolled in such a program, a determination by the Director of Graduate Studies shall be considered official.

Duties: The Department Senate shall consider, transact, or delegate such business as it sees within the scope of its responsibilities; shall formulate the educational aims and objectives of the Department; shall review and approve the requirements for all degree programs; and shall recommend to the appropriate Dean candidates for relevant degrees. The actions of all standing committees of the Department and of all ad hoc committees created by the Department Senate shall be subject to review and approval by the Department Senate.

Meetings: Voting rights shall be extended to all members of the Department Senate from the faculty constituency who are present at Senate meetings at the time of the vote. The Chair or the Chair's designee shall preside over Senate meetings; the Chair shall have no vote, except to break a tie in a vote.

Forty percent (40%) of the faculty constituency who are on full-time duty at the University shall constitute a quorum of the Senate. Faculty members who are on sabbatical leave or on leave of absence shall not be counted as members of the faculty constituency for purposes of determining a quorum, although they may attend meetings and vote if they so choose.

Regular Department Senate meetings shall be held once a semester. Additional special meetings may be called at the direction of the Chair or petition of 25% of the faculty constituency. Written notice of meetings, listing the agenda, shall ordinarily be distributed to all Senate members, five days in advance of the meeting date. Any member of the Senate may add to the agenda by submission of a written notice to the Chair at least three days prior to a regularly scheduled meeting.

A majority of those present and voting shall carry, unless the house decides otherwise in advance of the vote. Closed (secret) ballots shall be used for any election of personnel to committees and for votes on faculty appointments. Voting on other matters shall be conducted by a show of hands, unless a closed ballot is requested by three voting members. A mailed or secure electronic ballot may be used in voting on any issues if requested by a majority of the voting members.

These by-laws become effective upon approval of at least two-thirds of the Senate voting in a mailed or secure electronic ballot, and may be amended by a vote of two-thirds of Senate members, voting in a mailed or secure electronic ballot, provided the proposal to amend has been discussed at a meeting of the Department Senate.



The unit of organization within the Department shall be the "area." Areas may vary widely in their size and composition, depending on their needs and the desires of the participating faculty. Participation in any area shall be voluntary. Faculty members of the Department shall signify their desire to vote in an area by a letter of intent to the appropriate Area Head. Transfer to that Area, or participation in more than one area, shall be contingent upon consultation with and approval by the Area. If faculty members of the department are voting members of more than one area, then they must stipulate which one of their areas they will represent prior to their election to any Department committee that has representation by area. Formal designation of an area shall require approval by a majority of the Department Senate voting in a mail or secure electronic ballot, provided there has been prior publication and discussion at a Department Senate meeting of a motion to establish the area. Dissolution of an area shall require the same procedure.

Area responsibilities shall consist of recruitment of students, faculty, and other resources for the area that facilitate training; formulation and administration of graduate training programs; and representation on the Policy and Planning Committee and Graduate Studies Committee. Each area shall be administered by an Area Head, who shall be appointed to a renewable three-year term by the Chair after a consultative vote by the voting members of the area.



Chair: The Department Chair is appointed by the President upon recommendation by the Dean after consultation with voting members of the faculty senate. The Chair may be reappointed after consultation with the faculty of the department. The Department Chair shall guide the teaching, research, and service and conduct the administrative operations of the department, represent the department to the College and the University, report promptly to the Dean on matters affecting the welfare of the department, and report and recommend actions regarding the department's programs, activities, and faculty, including faculty appointments, promotions, and the terms and conditions of appointments. The Chair shall present business for action at meetings of the Department Senate; shall attend, or appoint a deputy to attend meetings of the Policy and Planning Committee; shall appoint ad hoc committees as he or she deems appropriate in consultation with the Policy and Planning Committee. The Chair shall publish an annual report to the Dean on the condition and progress of the Department.

Administrative Officers: The appointed administrative officers are the Associate Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of Undergraduate Studies. These officers may be appointed by the Chair for a term normally to be coextensive with the Chair's term. These administrative officers may be reappointed for additional terms following the same procedures as for their original appointment.

Committees: There shall be at least five standing committees of the Department: Policy and Planning Committee, Personnel Committee, Graduate Studies Committee, Undergraduate Studies Committee, and Grievance Committee.


Policy and Planning Committee:

Membership and Election: The Policy and Planning Committee shall be composed of six ladder faculty members and no more than one clinical/teaching faculty member or lecturer, elected at-large by the voting faculty, all with equal voting rights. All members shall be elected for 2-year terms beginning in September. Three terms will begin in even-numbered years, and three terms shall begin in odd-numbered years. All voting faculty except the department chair shall be eligible to serve. At least one ladder faculty member of each area must serve on the committee and up to one person with the title of clinical faculty, lecturer, or senior research scientist. No more than two representatives from one area may serve simultaneously. Individuals can serve as a member of Policy and Planning in a year where they have a one-semester sabbatical leave; they cannot serve in a year where they have a two-semester sabbatical leave.

Duties: The Policy and Planning Committee shall advise and counsel the Chair on all matters of policy and planning in the Department, including teaching, research, and service activities and recommendations of actions affecting programs and faculty, and shall advise the Chair in the appointment of ad hoc committees. The committee shall, at the beginning of each school year, elect a chair who will be responsible for maintaining and publishing an agenda, distributing minutes to all members, obtaining relevant testimony and conducting the meetings. The committee shall keep records of all of its actions and make them available to members of the Department Senate on request.


Personnel Committee:

Membership and Election: The Personnel Committee shall consist of five (5) elected representatives of the faculty (standing members): three (3) Full Professors and two (2) Associate Professors, elected for two-year staggered terms within ranks, i.e., with one Associate Professor and one or two Full Professors being elected each year by their peers from the faculty constituency. Standing members of the Personnel Committee will be from the ladder faculty. In addition, clinical/teaching faculty members of associate or higher rank may serve as advocates or advisors for those cases involving promotion/review of clinical/teaching faculty at a lower rank. A subset (n=3) of this committee will also constitute the Grievance Committee, and will address grievance cases when they come up. The clinical/teaching faculty member will serve as one of the three faculty representatives that constitute the Grievance Committee. No one shall participate in the contract renewal evaluation process for faculty members at their own rank. The Chair shall be ineligible for membership on the Personnel Committee. Individuals cannot serve as members of Personnel in a year where they have any sabbatical leave.

Duties: The duty of the Personnel Committee shall be to review and evaluate each year the credentials of all faculty members of the Department who are eligible contract renewals and to recommend appropriate actions to the Chair. If a candidate desires, this committee may also provide consultation regarding whether and when to go up for tenure. Committee evaluations and the evidential basis for any recommendations shall also be made available. This information shall include, but not be confined to, recommendations by the respective Area Heads, the Directors of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies, and evaluations by graduate students and by undergraduate students.

Student Recommendations Regarding Personnel Actions: For faculty members being considered that year, the department Chair shall solicit evaluations and/or recommendations from select current and former graduate and undergraduate students via mail or electronic notice. These evaluations/recommendations shall be based on teaching and such other criteria as writers deem relevant for consideration by the Personnel Committee. It shall be understood that the evaluations/recommendations shall be sent to the department Chair, who shall convey them at the appropriate time to the College of Arts and Sciences Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure Committee.


Graduate Studies Committee:

Membership: Membership of the Graduate Studies Committee shall consist of one ladder faculty representative elected by the faculty constituency of each of the areas of the Department, and one graduate student representative from each area elected by the corresponding subset of the graduate constituency; the Directors of Graduate Studies and Graduate Admissions shall sit as voting members of the committee. The Chair or the Chair's designee may sit as an ex officio member of the committee without vote. Election of all members shall be for one-year terms beginning in September.

Duties: The Graduate Studies Committee shall have the responsibility for the formulation and implementation of policies governing graduate training in the department, including graduate admissions requirements, graduate curricula and graduate degree requirements. The Committee shall keep records of all actions and make them available to members of the Department Senate. The Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Studies Committee also can oversee and participate in the coordination of graduate admissions.


Undergraduate Studies Committee:

Membership: Membership of the Undergraduate Studies Committee shall include three faculty representatives, including at least one ladder faculty member, elected by the faculty constituency of the Department for two-year staggered terms. The Chair or the Chair's designee, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and the Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies shall sit as voting, ex officio members of the Committee; the Assistant to the Chair may also sit as an ex officio member, but without vote. In addition, the committee shall include among its voting members (a) up to two graduate student representatives and (b) up to two undergraduate psychology students. Graduate and undergraduate representatives shall be appointed at the discretion of the Chair after consultation with respective graduate and undergraduate student organizations.  

Duties: The Undergraduate Studies Committee shall formulate and recommend to the Department Senate policies governing undergraduate training in the department, including the undergraduate curriculum, requirements for majors and minors in psychology, and standards for honors in psychology.


Grievance Committee:

Membership: The Grievance Committee shall be composed of three representatives: 2 ladder faculty who were elected by the faculty constituency to serve on the Personnel Committee, and 1 clinical/teaching faculty member appointed ad hoc by the Chair. This subset of individuals will serve as the committee when grievance cases arise. In addition, the committee shall include three graduate student representatives elected by the graduate student constituency, and three student representatives elected by the undergraduate constituency. Election of student representatives shall be for one-year terms beginning in September.

Duties: Any member of the faculty, graduate, or undergraduate constituencies who feels that they have not received fair treatment because of capricious, arbitrary, or discriminatory action on the part of any representative or agency of the department, or its constituent bodies, may ask the Grievance Committee to investigate. The committee shall undertake investigation of a case only upon submission of a written complaint to a member of the committee. Investigations shall be conducted in strict confidence and without publicity.


Faculty Mentoring

The Department of Psychology supports the mentoring policy of the University at Buffalo. The specific details of the Department's mentoring program will be developed by the Policy and Planning Committee in accord with University policy.

The Chair, in consultation with the Personnel Committee, will provide detailed feedback to junior faculty on their progress toward tenure after the third-year review.


Promotion of Clinical/Teaching Faculty

Along with ladder faculty of appropriate rank, clinical/teaching faculty shall vote on promotion cases of other clinical/teaching faculty in the same way that ladder faculty vote within their ranks (i.e., ladder Full Professors and Clinical Full Professors shall vote on promotion to Clinical Full Professor; ladder and Clinical Full Professors and ladder and Clinical Associate Professors shall vote on promotion to Clinical Associate Professor).


Parliamentary Authority

Meetings, elections, and ballots of the Department of Psychology and its committees shall be governed by Robert's rules of Order, latest edition, except as otherwise provided by these bylaws or the bylaws and standing orders of the College of Arts and Sciences.



Amendments to these Bylaws shall be adopted by a favorable two-thirds majority vote of the Department Faculty Senate in a mail or secure electronic ballot or combination thereof. The ballot shall be distributed with the proposed amendment not earlier than four weeks and not later than eight weeks after the proposed amendment is advanced by a majority of the Policy and Planning Committee or by a petition signed by at least three of the faculty of the Department. If a special faculty meeting discusses the proposed amendment, however, the ballot shall be distributed not later than two weeks after that meeting. Any proposed amendment advanced during the last four weeks of an academic year shall not be submitted to mail ballot earlier than the fourth week of the following academic year. Ballots shall be returned not later than two weeks after their distribution. University recesses shall be excluded from the determination of these time periods.

The Chair and Policy and Planning Committee shall formally review these bylaws every five years, beginning in 2005.


Separability and Compatibility

If any article, section, sentence, or clause of these bylaws is adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not invalidate the remainder of these bylaws.

These bylaws shall be compatible to and subordinate the College of Arts and Sciences Bylaws, to UB's Bylaws of the Voting Faculty, the laws of the United States of America and the State of New York, the authority and Policies of the Trustees of the State University of New York, and the authority and policies of the Council of the State University of New York at Buffalo.