The Department has academic responsibilities that include undergraduate and graduate instruction, research, and educational outreach programs. The Department has primary control of faculty assignments and recruiting. Non-academic functions include acquisition and maintenance of facilities and equipment, university and public service, public relations, and alumni contact.
The Department consists of three Divisions: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB); Cellular, Developmental and Integrative Biology (CDIB); and Systematics, Ecology and Evolution (SEE). The functions of these Divisions are to provide: 1) leadership in the development of research and scholarly activities of its members; 2) input on faculty hiring plans; and 3) opportunities for discussion relating to departmental issues that may require detailed analysis at divisional levels. Final decisions on graduate admissions, undergraduate and graduate curricula, and hiring plans are not included in the purview of the Divisions.
Tenured and tenure-track faculty members with the rank of assistant, associate or full professor and holding a primary appointment in Biological Sciences have full voting privileges in faculty meetings and in divisional meetings. Each faculty member described above declares membership in at least one Division. Tenured and tenure-track members with the rank of assistant, associate or full professor and holding a non-primary appointment in Biological Sciences may attend faculty meetings and participate, but without vote. Exceptions will be granted for faculty holding administrative posts outside of the Department, where the majority of salary is derived from non-departmental sources. Full-time instructors have voting privileges on matters of courses and curriculum. Research professors, adjunct professors and emeritus professors may attend faculty meetings and participate, but without vote. Faculty meetings are presided over by the Chair of the Department, or in the case of illness or absence, by an alternate approved by the Chair, typically one of the Associate Chairs.
Chair of the Department
The Department is administered by the Chair, who is appointed by the Dean of the College of Science. The length of the appointment is negotiated between the Chair and the Dean. Prior to the appointment, input from the tenured and tenure-track faculty members of the Department may be provided in the form of a straw vote. The Chair may be reappointed for additional terms, with support from the Department. The performance of the Chair is evaluated annually by the faculty through written evaluations submitted to the College.
The Chair is charged with providing leadership to the Department, representing the Department in all interchanges with the College and University Administration and external agencies, for coordinating the activities of the faculty and the non-academic staff, and pursuing the public relations needs of the Department. The Chair may appoint committee chairs, associate chairs, or other designates to aid with selected duties.
On the initiative of the Chair, or by request of the Executive Committee, or by request by 1/4 of the faculty members, the Chair shall call meetings of the faculty of the Department for discussion of matters of interest to the Department as a whole. There shall be at least one faculty meeting per semester during the regular academic year. While presiding, the Chair may vote only to break a tie.
The Chair functions as the presiding officer of the Executive Committee and as an ex officio member of all other committees of the Department. The Chair appoints all committees of the Department.
Consistent with Permanent Memoranda and Policy Statements of the University, the Chair is charged with initiating the consideration of all appointments, reappointments, promotions, and nominations for tenure by the faculty, and with transmitting the departmental recommendations to the Dean of the College. Final recommendations of salary adjustments are the sole responsibility of the Chair, although input may be obtained from the Executive Committee.
The Chair is responsible for administering the departmental budget. The Chair also reviews building space and equipment needs of the Department, coordinates those needs, integrates construction design, and makes presentation of those needs to the appropriate university officials. Standing or ad hoc committees may aid in carrying out these responsibilities of the Chair.
Upon receiving input and ranked priorities from the Divisions, the Chair is responsible for formulating and prioritizing a plan for faculty hiring and transmitting that plan to the Dean of the College. These plans should be consistent with the Strategic Plan of the Department.
The Associate Chairs of the Department
The Chair shall appoint the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies and the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies after soliciting nominations and considering input from the faculty at large on the selection of the appointee. The term of service is negotiable, but not less than three years.
In consultation with the Chair, and in cases of curriculum, the Courses and Curriculum Committee, the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies administers the undergraduate teaching program including curriculum development and implementation, assessment programs, student advising, and coordination of the hiring of temporary and permanent instructors. A committee with representatives from each of the departmental divisions will function as in the hiring of tenure track positions. The Associate Chair serves as chair of the Departmental Courses and Curriculum Committee, and the Program Assessment Committee.
In consultation with the Chair, and the Graduate Admissions Committee, the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies administers the graduate program including recruitment and admission of graduate students, awarding teaching assistantships and fellowships, coordinating and documenting compliance with degree requirements, and assignment of teaching assistants to specific courses. He/she is also responsible for an annual application to the Board of Regents for Graduate Fellowships. The Associate Chair for Graduate Studies serves as chair of the Graduate Admissions Committee and Graduate Recruiting Committee.
The Coordinator of the Freshman Biology Program is recognized as the Associate Chair for Introductory Biology. As coordinator he/she is charged with organizing lecture and laboratory schedules, coordinating freshman advising, coordinating instructors of freshman courses. He/she also chairs the departmental Introductory Biology Committee and is responsible for the General Education and Freshman Biology assessment programs. The Associate Chair for Freshman Biology works closely with the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies on matters that are common to the two offices.
Each Division elects two co-Representatives for a term of at least two years. Maximum term limits are set by the Divisions. The terms of the representatives should be staggered in order to provide continuity in experience and leadership. The Divisional Representatives schedule and preside over divisional meetings, which are held to reach consensus on hiring priorities, rank job candidates for recommendation to the faculty at large, recommend candidates for adjunct professor appointments, and other academic issues relevant to the research and teaching responsibilities of the Division.
The Executive Committee of the Department
The Executive Committee shall consist of the Chair, the three Associate Chairs (as non-voting members), two Representatives from each of the three Divisions and the Director of the Museum of Natural Science (as a non-voting member). The Executive Committee shall serve as advisor to the Chair on questions of policy and implementation and other departmental issues that the Chair may bring before it. Members of the Committee may also suggest agenda items for discussion. At the request of the Chair, the Committee may provide input on merit evaluation of faculty members for the purpose of pay raises. The Committee may bring forward motions to the faculty at large for approval and ratification. The Executive Committee is also charged with making recommendations to the Graduate School with respect to Graduate Faculty status.
Ad hoc and standing committees shall be appointed by the Chair. To the extent possible, appointments to committees should reflect the various areas of interest and competence (namely the Divisions) in the Department. There shall be rotation of committee assignments in a manner that maintains continuity yet provides for fresh input.
Standing committees in the Department include at least one member from each Division, and these are: the Executive Committee; Graduate Admissions Committee; Graduate Recruitment Committee; Courses and Curriculum Committee; Computer Committee; Aquatics Facilities Committee; Space Committee (includes faculty members representing all building areas and is limited to tenured faculty); Student Awards Committee; Faculty Awards Committee (restricted to full professors); Program Assessment Committee (the Associate Chairs serve as co-chairs of the committee); Endowment Funds Committee; and Safety Committee (includes faculty members from all building locations). Appointments to the College Policy Committee (two faculty members) and the College Professors Promotion and Tenure Committee (one full professor) require departmental elections. The structure of Seminar Committees is at the discretion of the divisions. Committee membership will be posted on line, with the exception of that for ad hoc hiring committees. While membership on these committees will be made available to all members of the Department, it will not be available by internet access.
Provision for Revision
These By-Laws and the associated Departmental Policy Statements may be revised in the following manner. The proposed revision shall be made and presented by the Executive Committee for faculty approval and ratification. At a faculty meeting, any proposed revision must be presented in written form, and the proposal shall be open for discussion concerning its meaning and implications. The action on such proposed revisions shall be delayed until a subsequent faculty meeting at least one week following the notice of motion.
A proposed revision shall be considered enacted if approved by a two-thirds majority of the tenured and tenure-track faculty in the Department. The vote may be by email or mail ballot if approved by a majority of those eligible to vote on the revision.
These departmental By-Laws and associated Departmental Policy Statements are subject to the current university permanent memoranda and university policy statements, and should be interpreted and applied in a manner consistent with these regulations. In the event of a conflict, university regulations have precedence.
University policy with respect to search committee selection will be followed. According to the HRM guidelines: “An individual who accepts appointment to a search committee may not become a candidate for the position. Additionally, a search committee member shall recuse himself/herself if someone to whom he/she is related to by kinship or personal relationship, or with whom he/she is engaged in business ventures becomes a candidate for the position. It is incumbent upon a search committee member to disclose when such a conflict arises. Upon having knowledge of any potential conflict of interest, the committee chairperson should discuss the matter with the appropriate administrator."
Departmental Policy Statement on Adjunct Faculty, Research Professors (non-tenure-track) and Visiting Faculty
The Department of Biological Sciences recognizes the need for associations with faculty members and other professionals outside the Department as an enhancement to our programs. Ordinarily, before appointment there would be evidence of recent interaction and collaboration with departmental faculty as demonstrated by funded grants, published manuscripts or instruction in upper-division courses. Adjunct faculty from other Departments who already hold Graduate Faculty appointments will be limited to those whose contribution to the academic programs of Biological Sciences is compelling.
Individuals to be considered for appointment as Adjunct Faculty shall be nominated by a tenured or tenure-track faculty member from a Division of the Department that is appropriate relative to the nominee’s scholarly focus. A CV, along with a letter of nomination from the nominator, shall be submitted to the Department. The credentials will first be reviewed by faculty of the appropriate Division, and if the nomination is approved by that Division, the nominee will present a seminar to the Department. The tenured and tenure-track members of the Department will vote on the acceptability of the candidate. If approved, the term of the appointment will be for three years. The appointment may be renewed after consideration of a supporting letter from at least one faculty member in the appropriate Division, an updated CV by the appropriate Division, a positive recommendation by the Division, and a vote by faculty of the Department for approval of the reappointment. A seminar is not required for reappointment.
All adjunct faculty approved by the Department for adjunct status will be nominated as Associate or Full Members of the Graduate Faculty of LSU. However, given the limited resources of the Department, students who are advised by adjunct professors are expected to receive their support from extra-departmental sources. Departmental funding of such students will be limited and at the discretion of the graduate committee and Department. Any graduate student who has an adjunct member as their major advisor shall have at least two faculty members Associate or Full Graduate Faculty members from Biological Sciences on the examining committee.
The University criteria for the appointment of Research Professors (non-tenure-track; all ranks) are specified in PM-23, which includes the provisions that such an appointment is normally supported by grant or contract funding and typically requires at least five years of postdoctoral experience. Candidates should formally apply to the Department of Biological Sciences for a Research Professorship at the level appropriate to their qualifications and experience. The application should include a statement of purpose, and letters of reference from within and/or outside the Department of Biological Sciences should be provided as appropriate. The Executive Committee of the Department of Biological Sciences will review the applications for Research Professor positions and make recommendations on appointment to the Chair and the Faculty. A departmental research seminar is required prior to approval of the appointment by the Faculty.
Research Professors generally will be housed within the laboratory space of established faculty members with primary appointments in the Department of Biological Sciences. Exceptions can be granted (e.g., in cases in which the person to be appointed had full funding and an established research program). The laboratory hosting the Research Professor must be active and funded at an appropriate level to merit the association with a Research Professor. The candidate must obtain a written agreement with the host to use space within his/her laboratory. Agreements will include a fixed time limit as agreed upon by the faculty host and the Research Professor. Such an agreement must be in place before the appointment of the Research Professor is approved by the Department of Biological Sciences. The PI of the laboratory in which the Research Professor will reside may provide funding for materials and supplies to facilitate collaborative research. In such cases, the source of funding must be established and also documented in the written agreement before the appointment. The Research Professor will use the office space, computing/telecommunications facilities and office supplies associated with the research laboratory with which he/she is affiliated. Office space outside of the host laboratory may be allocated by the Chair as outlined in the By-Laws of the Department of Biological Sciences. Once the Research Professor is funded he/she may be granted a departmental allocation of at most $600 per year, depending on availability of funds. Persons holding a Research Professor appointment in the Department of Biological Sciences route all grant proposals through that Department.
Because Research Professors have a 100% commitment to research they will not be required to teach classes within the regular education program of the Department of Biological Sciences. Research Professors may teach a maximum of one course per year, provided this does not conflict with time commitments to granting agencies. Teaching by Research Professors may be on a gratis basis. Research Professors may also be contracted to teach a course in demand, given the availability of funding. Research Professors may serve on graduate student committees (PhD and MS) and supervise undergraduate students (BIOL 3999), but may not serve as the major advisor for graduate students. Research Professors will not be assigned service within the Department, because their salaries normally will be funded by granting agencies to which they will have a 100% commitment when fully supported.
Research Professors will be reviewed as directed by the University guidelines (PS-36). They will be reviewed annually by the Chair and at the three-year stage by the Department of Biological Sciences. Research Professors can be promoted to the next level (rank) in accordance with the University guidelines. Research Professors must compete successfully in a national search before they are eligible for selection and appointment to tenured or tenure-track positions within the Department of Biological Sciences.
Criteria for the appointment of Visiting Faculty (gratis) are also specified in PM-23. These individuals are typically on leave from another university, but may also be appointed as Visiting Faculty without affiliation with another institution, so long as the appointment is for a fixed period and all other criteria are met (cf., PM-23). Visiting Faculty members are appointed by the Chair based upon the recommendation of the appropriate Division and approval by the faculty at large. A departmental seminar is optional for Visiting Faculty appointments.
Departmental Policy Statement on Hiring of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty
Once a faculty position has been approved by the Dean of the College of Science, the Chair shall appoint a search committee for the job opening. The five-member search committee shall include three faculty members from the Division with which the new hire is most likely to have primary affiliation, and one faculty member from each of the other two Divisions. One member of the search committee shall be designated by the Chair as the diversity advocate, whose charge is to ensure that all applicants from under-represented groups are given full and equal consideration at all steps of the departmental selection process. When hiring a curator the search committee will include two curators. In addition to the five faculty members, a graduate student may be appointed as a non-voting member of the search committee at the discretion of the Chair. To the degree possible, committees for interdisciplinary departmental searches should have compositions that reflect the academic focus of the job description.
The Search committee is charged with drafting the job advertisement for approval by the Chair. For curator hires the job advertisement will clearly state that the position involves curatorial duties. Each member of the search committee is responsible for independently evaluating all applicant files. Each committee member should evaluate all applicants fairly and spend sufficient time fully reviewing each application to enable equity. The search committee is charged with working together to formulate a prioritized list of finalists to be recommended for interviews. In the case of a non-interdisciplinary search, the search committee shall present its rankings to the relevant Division for discussion, input and approval. If the Division does not agree with the selection or the ranking, of finalists, the search committee shall reconvene and reevaluate their ranking in light of the divisional input. When an agreement is reached, a single slate of ranked candidates, approved as acceptable by both the search committee and Division, shall be presented for consideration at a faculty meeting. No divisional approval of the committee ranking of finalists is required for interdisciplinary searches.
After discussion by the faculty at large, a vote by written ballot will be taken to accept or reject the slate of ranked candidates for interview. If approved, a vote or votes will be taken as to the acceptability of each candidate for interview. If the slate of ranked candidates is not approved, the search committee and Division (when appropriate) will reconvene, make revisions to the slate of candidates, and bring a revised list to the faculty for consideration. Normally, the files of the top three acceptable candidates shall be forwarded to the Dean for approval to interview. Under exceptional circumstances, the faculty may vote to recommend a fourth candidate for interview. In this case the Chair shall request a waiver from the Dean to allow four interviews; the final decision rests with the Dean of the College.
After interviews are completed, the search committee will reconvene (if for a non-interdisciplinary hire, jointly with the relevant Division) and votes shall be conducted to rank the candidates and determine acceptability for hiring. The single ranking is then presented to the faculty at a faculty meeting. After faculty discussion and consideration of the input from the search committee (and Division where appropriate), a vote or votes will be taken on the acceptability of each ranked candidate for hiring. Unacceptable or inappropriate candidates are eliminated from further consideration. Then each faculty member shall vote for his/her top candidate by written ballot. The top candidate is identified by this vote, and the remaining candidates are ranked by repeating the same voting process. The list shall be presented by the Chair to the Dean for approval. Upon approval, the Chair shall initiate negotiations with the top candidate as soon as possible and proceed down the list of acceptable candidates until the position is filled. Close communication with the Dean shall be maintained by the Chair at all stages of the negotiation process.
Departmental Policy Statement on Space Assignments
Final assignments of space for research laboratories and offices are the responsibility of the Chair. The Departmental Space Committee may evaluate space requests from faculty members and provides recommendations on these requests and other space-related issues to the Chair. Because of the limited space typically available within the Department, assignment of space is dependent on the type of appointment held by the individual requesting space, as prioritized below. Assignments are also influenced strongly by the justification and quality of the work to be performed, and the potential value of the work in furthering the Department’s academic missions and Strategic Plan. Space assignments in the Department shall not be considered permanent, but rather the assignments must be flexible to insure the ability to optimize the use of space by the Department. Over multi-years periods, assignment of research space may require re-evaluation as research programs expand or shrink with resulting changes in the need for space.
Professorial Faculty (tenured or tenure-track). This group of faculty has highest priority for private office space. The priority for research lab space is strongly influenced by the scholarly productivity, size of the research group, and the specific space requirements of a given research program. Access to a minimum lab space of 500-600 sq. ft. will be provided so long as an acceptable level of research activity is demonstrated by the faculty member.
Research Professors (non-tenure track). As with tenured and tenure-track faculty, priority for research lab space is strongly influenced by the scholarly productivity and the specific space requirements of a given research program.
Instructors (full-time). These faculty members will be assigned offices, but the offices may have to be shared if private space is not available.
Emeritus Faculty. Adequate space for emeritus faculty will be provided when possible.
Instructors (part-time). The preferred space assignment is the office of a faculty member whose teaching is being replaced. This option is particularly useful when the availability of office space is limited and the faculty member is off-campus on leave. If the part-time instructor is not temporarily replacing a faculty member on leave, then the instructor will be assigned either a shared or private office if available.
Postdoctoral Research Associates. The preferred office assignment is within the faculty mentor’s research lab. Shared office space outside of the research laboratory may be assigned on a space-available basis. Research laboratory space will be provided by the faculty member.
Graduate students. Graduate students are expected to be housed in the laboratories of their advisors. Requests for common-use office space outside of the advisor’s lab are considered on a case-by-case basis and only when space is filled in the mentor’s laboratory. Graduate students who are accommodated in research labs and who currently are appointed as teaching assistants in the Department may be assigned common TA space in order to hold office hours outside of the research laboratory.
Undergraduate research students. Undergraduates also are expected to be housed in the laboratories of their advisors.
Visiting faculty. Typically these faculty are on sabbatical leave from another institution and do not have a teaching responsibility in Biological Sciences. Visiting faculty will be assigned an office if vacant space exists.
Adjunct Faculty. These individuals are typically not assigned office or research space, but an assignment could be considered on a space-available basis.
Departmental Policy Statement on Pre-tenure Mentoring Committees, Reappointment, and Promotion and Tenure
The criteria for evaluating academic performance in the context of reappointment and promotion and tenure are described in PS-36. Procedures and policies that govern these personnel actions are also described in the same university policy statement. Departmental-specific practices to be followed are summarized below.
Pre-tenure Mentoring Committees
A Pre-tenure Mentoring Committee shall be formed for each tenure-track assistant professor early in the first semester of residence. The Chair of the department should meet with the untenured professor and discuss possible members of the committee. Both should agree on the composition of the three-member committee prior to appointment. Any changes in committee membership require prior approval by the Chair. From the outset, it should be clear that the new untenured professor is solely responsible for successful promotion and tenure. The Pre-tenure Mentoring Committee shall not be held accountable for a failed attempt at promotion or tenure. The committee is dissolved once the tenure and promotion processes are completed.
The Pre-tenure Mentoring Committee has several responsibilities: (1) to assure that the untenured professor is aware of PS-36 and has a clear understanding of departmental standards and expectations for successful promotion with tenure; (2) to monitor the untenured professor’s progress toward these goals by means of regular (at least annual) meetings followed by written reports to the untenured professor and Chair; (3) to advise the untenured professor on ways to minimize or eliminate obstacles to achievement of these goals, and advise the professor on an appropriate timetable for successful promotion (i.e., when to stand for promotion); (4) to assist in gathering multiple measures of teaching performance (e.g., attend selected lectures, canvas former students) so that student evaluation forms are not the sole measure of quality; (5) to advise the untenured professor during preparation of both his/her reappointment dossier and promotion dossier, and to recommend to the Chair a list of external reviewers in accordance with PS-36 guidelines for the promotion packet; (6) to assist the Chair in preparing the final promotion packet, including the promotion dossier, outside letters, and any attachments required by PS-36; (7) to summarize in an impartial and unbiased manner the materials assembled in the reappointment or promotion packets (no recommendation provided); at a faculty meeting; and (8) to prepare the case for promotion decisions of the faculty majority opinion (and minority opinion, if necessary) following the vote by the faculty, and submit these documents to the Chair. Faculty input should be actively solicited during preparation of both majority and minority opinions.
Reappointment of tenure-track assistant professors is considered by the tenured faculty during the sixth semester of the initial appointment. The dossier is made available for viewing by the tenured faculty at least one week prior to the faculty meeting at which the reappointment vote is to be taken.
Promotion and Tenure
Normally, decisions on promotion with tenure of an assistant professor are made during the sixth year of service to the University. The department always has a right to move for an early promotion and tenure decision, provided that the record warrants such consideration, but a delay in the process is permissible only for the reasons specified in PS-36. The promotion packet is made available for viewing by the voting faculty at least two weeks prior to the faculty meeting at which the reappointment vote is to be taken.
Promotion from associate professor with tenure to full professor is considered a non-mandatory review. If an associate professor elects to be considered for such a promotion, the Chair should be notified according to the review schedule in PS-36. The Chair shall appoint a 3-member Promotion Committee charged with: (1) advising the candidate during preparation of his/her promotion dossier; (2) recommending to the Chair a list of external reviewers in accordance with PS-36 guidelines for the promotion packet; (3) assisting the Chair in preparing the final promotion packet, including the promotion dossier, outside letters, and any attachments required by PS-36; (4) at a faculty meeting, summarizing in an impartial and unbiased manner the materials assembled in the promotion packet (no recommendation provided); and (5) following the vote by the faculty, preparing the faculty majority opinion (and minority opinion, if necessary) and submitting these documents to the Chair. Faculty input should be actively solicited during preparation of both majority and minority opinions.
Departmental Policy Statement on Teaching Assignments
Teaching assignments are ultimately the responsibility of the Chair. However, routine assignments may be delegated to the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies, provided the Chair is briefed regularly. Changes in assignments, especially those involving questions of whether a new assignment constitutes a full load for that faculty member, must be evaluated by the Chair.
A full teaching load for a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who holds a 50% teaching and 50% research appointment is the equivalent of six lecture credit hours per academic year. Special considerations may be granted in exceptional cases. Increases in the percent teaching effort are permissible and the course load must reflect this change. Reductions in teaching load during the academic year (e.g., buy-out with extramural funds procured by the faculty member) are permissible, providing the Department can meet its teaching demands in the semester in which the buyout is requested. Otherwise the buy-out shall be delayed.
Shared teaching of courses must be approved by the Chair. In general, teaching one half of a 3 cr. hr. course does not constitute a full load for a given semester, and such a load may require an additional assignment at the Chair’s discretion.
Assistant Professors will be granted two semesters of teaching relief. One in the first three years of service, and the second after the three-year contract renewal.
The full load for full-time instructors is three courses (or lecture sections) per semester. In the event the assignment does not exclusively involve lecturing (e.g., laboratory coordination, media preparation, etc.), a full load is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Departmental Policy Statement on Faculty Responsibilities
It is recognized that while faculty appointments are defined as 50% research and 50% teaching, (or 50% research, 25% teaching, and 25% curation for curators), there is an expectation for service by members of the Department. The extent of service activities requested of junior faculty members will be minimal.
Mentoring of graduate students by faculty is an important part of both the research and teaching components of our appointments. Mentoring of students should conform to the rules and timetables listed in the Graduate Handbook.
Conflict of Interest
Conflicts of interest in addition to those specified by HRM (kinship or business relationship) include personal relationships, monetary association, and co-authorship and grant collaboration in the last 48 months. Such conflicts are to be avoided in committee appointments and other situations when deemed inappropriate by the chair. Faculty members are encouraged to recuse themselves when a conflict of interest is perceived. In addition, a member of the faculty may submit a conflict-of-interest concern to the Departmental Executive Committee, to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Acknowledgments: Format and selected content in these By-laws and Policy Statements were patterned after university policy statements and by-laws of other former and current Departments. The documents benefitted considerably from thoughtful input from the Executive Committee and the faculty at large of Biological Sciences.