The Catholic University of America

Archived June 2006

Editor's note: The prior layout of Part I of the Faculty Handbook was different. The prior table of contents is listed below for archival purposes. Clicking on the link will take you to the archived version of the document.

Charter Documents
1. Introduction
2. Canonical Erection
3. Certificate of Incorporation
4. Act of Congress
5. Election to Accept District of Columbia Non-Profit Corporation Act

Current Governing Documents
6. Bylaws
7. Special Statutes for Ecclesiastical Units
8. Constitution of the Academic Senate

Statement of Aims
9. The Pontifical Statutes of 1937
10. The Preface to the Bylaws
11. The Statement of Goals

The Organization of the University
12. Board of Trustees
13. Executive Officers
14. Academic Senate
15. Graduate Board
16. Faculties
17. Membership in Consortia

Changes below reflect updates to the June 2002 version of the Faculty Handbook. Additions to the 2002 version are shown in the blue text below. Deletions are shown in red. Click here for highlights of changes made to the new part B (Current Governing Documents) and here for highlights of changes made to the new section C (Historical Documents).

Faculty Handbook Part 1

A. ORGANIZATION OF THE UNIVERSITY (see below for changes to text)

1. Introduction
2. Board of Trustees
3. Executive Officers
4. Academic Senate
5. The Faculties
6. Membership in Consortia

1. Introduction. (click here for archived clean copy)

The Catholic University of America was founded under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States of America. From its inception, it has been supported by American Catholics who, through their Bishops, have made generous financial contributions to maintain a national center of academic excellence not only in the sacred sciences but in the arts and sciences generally and in selected professional fields.

The official history of the University dates from 1866 when the Bishops of the United States, meeting in the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore, expressed their earnest desire to have under Catholic auspices a university where "all the letters and sciences, both sacred and profane, could be taught." During the Third Plenary Council in 1884, the Bishops proposed to establish with a gift of $300,000 from Miss Mary Gwendoline Caldwell of Newport, Rhode Island, a school of higher studies in theology as "a kernel or bud from which, with the help of God's grace, there would blossom forth in its own time a complete university." Pope Leo XIII formally approved the project of a national university on April 10, 1887 (commemorated annually as Founder's Day). Civil incorporation was obtained immediately thereafter. Later in the same year, Pope Leo named John Joseph Keane, Bishop of Richmond, as Rector, and in 1889, in a letter to James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, and his brother Archbishops and Bishops, the Pope confirmed the original Constitutions which placed the University under the jurisdiction of the American Hierarchy, subject to the approval of the Holy See, with pontifical status.

Classes opened in Caldwell Hall on November 13, 1889, with Cardinal Gibbons as Chancellor, Bishop Keane as Rector, and a distinguished Faculty of eight professors. The University then had only the School of Sacred Sciences. In 1895 the Schools of Philosophy and Social Science were opened in McMahon Hall, which had been built from proceeds of a gift of land valued at $400,000 from the Right Reverend James McMahon of New York City. Like The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, and Clark University, founded in 1883, The Catholic University of America was conceived and established as a graduate school somewhat on the model of contemporary German universities. Today its academic complex includes eleven nine Faculties or Schools and a Metropolitian University College[1], which includes a Center for Continuing Education and Service. More than 70 per cent of the degrees awarded annually continue to be post‑baccalaureate, either graduate or professional.[2]

The Certificate of Incorporation given to the University by the District of Columbia in 1887 (Appendix n. 2) was amended by the Congress of the United States in 1928 (Appendix n. 4), to extend the services of the University to institutions which it might accept for affiliation and to expand in various particulars the authority of the Board of Trustees. In 1964, by action of the Board, the University filed a Statement of Election to accept the provisions of the District of Columbia Non‑profit Corporation Act. (Appendix n 5).These documents constitute the civil charter of the University.

The Constitutions approved by Pope Leo XIII were revised in 1926 and again in 1937, when they were designated as Statutes. Subsequent modifications were included in a new edition in 1964. In view of the University's pontifical status, explicit recognition was given to the Apostolic Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus of 1931, and to the Ordinationes of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities attached to it. These documents were replaced in 1979 by a new Apostolic Constitution, Sapientia Christiana, and accompanying Ordinationes of the (renamed) Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, intended to take into account the Declaration of Vatican Council II, Gravissium educationis, and other developments. The Apostolic Constitution and the Norms of Application govern the conduct of ecclesiastical studies having canonical effects.

With the approval of the Holy See, the former Statutes were superseded at the beginning of 1970 by the civil Bylaws that which are now the effective governing document of the University. By provision of these Bylaws, their full force and effect is extended to the Constitution of the Academic Senate and the Faculty Handbook when these documents are duly approved by the Board of Trustees. The Bylaws give recognition also to the Special Statutes for Pontifical Schools which provide that courses, programs and degrees having canonical effects shall be conducted according to norms and regulations promulgated by the Holy See.

The relationship of the University to the Holy See that began with its foundation was marked most notably by the visit on October 7, 1979, of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II at an academic convocation to which were invited the presidents of all Catholic colleges and universities in the United States and representatives of Catholic learned societies in addition to members of the Faculties.


[1] The University presently (2001) consists of ten schools and Metropolitan College.
[2] For histories of successive administrations of The Catholic University of America, see John Tracy Ellis, The Formative Years of The Catholic University of America(Washington: American Catholic Historical Association, 1946); Patrick H. Ahern, The Catholic University of America, 1887-1896. The Rectorship of John J. Keane(Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1949); Peter E. Rogan, S.S.J., The Catholic University of America, 1896‑1903. The Rectorship of Thomas J. Conaty(Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1949); Colman J. Barry, O.S.B., The Catholic University of America, 1903‑1909. The Rectorship of Denis J O'Connell (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1950); Blase Dixon, T.O.R., "The Catholic University of America, 1909‑1928. The Rectorship of Thomas Joseph Shahan" (unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Catholic University of America, 1972); and H. Warren Willis, "The Catholic University of America, 1928‑1935. The Rectorship of James Hugh Ryan" (unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Catholic University of America, 1972).

2. Board of Trustees. (click here for archived clean copy)

The civil charter and the Bylaws place in the Board of Trustees ultimate responsibility for governance and sole responsibility for fiscal affairs of the University. The Board's membership is limited to 50 persons of whom 25, but no more, must be clerics of the Roman Catholic Church. The Chancellor, who is the Archbishop of Washington, and the President are members ex officio. The Board holds scheduled meetings about four times each year. Its Executive Committee meets during intervals between Board meetings and on call by the Chairman and is empowered to act for the Board.

The officers of the Board ‑‑ Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary ‑‑ are elected annually from the membership for a term of three years. Members serve terms of four years, may not serve more than two additional terms in succession, and must retire at the end of the term during which they attain the age of 75 years. The Chairman, the Chancellor, the President, and the Chairschairmen of the standing committees on Academic Affairs, Audit, Development, Finance, Seminary, Student Affairs, and Trusteeship are members ex officio of the Executive Committee, to which other members are appointed by the Chairman. Non‑voting membership in these standing committees is extended to duly appointed members of the Administration, Faculties, and Staffs, to undergraduate and post‑baccalaureate students, and to externs.

The Bylaws provide for attendance at meetings of the Board of three representatives of the Faculties, who participate without vote, and for attendance at meetings of the Executive Committee of one of these repre­sentatives, again without vote. Each representative is elected for a three‑year term and may be re‑elected for only one consecutive term. By decision of the Academic Senate, the representatives are elected by and from each of three groups of Faculties, namely, the School of Arts and Sciences, the Ecclesiastical Schools (Canon Law, Philosophy, and Theology and Religious Studies), and the Professional Schools (Architecture and Planning, Engineering, Law, Library and Information Science, Music, Nursing, and Social Service). The Provost solicits nomina­tions from committees elected for the purpose by the respective Faculties and he conducts the elections by mail ballot. A majority of votes cast is required for election, but in the event that a third ballot is required, a simple majority suffices.

As authorized by the Bylaws, the Board of Trustees invites two stu­dents, representing undergraduate and post‑baccalaureate students respec­tively, to attend meetings of the Board and to participate without vote. It is the current practice of the Board to invite, through designation by the Chairman, one undergraduate and one graduatepost‑baccalaureate student to serve as a non‑voting member of each of tthe Board's standing committees mentioned above. The Graduate Student Association and Undergraduate Student Government nomi­nate candidates for these appointments. The President of The Catholic University of America Alumni Association is also invited to participate in meetings of the Board of Trustees as a non‑voting representative of the alumni.

3. Executive Officers. (click here for archived clean copy)

The Archbishop of Washington occupies the position of Chancellor ex officio. The Chancellor maintains liaison between the University and the Holy See and between the University and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. His rights and duties with respect to the Schools and Departments offering ecclesiastical studies and degrees are based upon the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana and the accompanying Norms of Application. He confers ecclesiastical degrees earned in course on the recommendations of the cognizant Faculties and the Academic Senate.

The President is the chief executive officer of the University. The PresidentHe is elected by the Board of Trustees after the report of a search committee that must include at least three members of the Faculties. The PresidentHe is a member of the Board, ex officio, and holds office at the pleasure of the Board, of which he is a member ex officio. The President's His appointments of the Provost and other Vice Presidents, all of whom report directly to him, are subject to approval by the Board. The President (a) appoints Deans and Chairs of Departments after consultations conducted according to procedures outlined by the Academic Senate, (b) . He appoints members of the Faculties upon the recommendation of the cognizant Dean in each case after completion of the required consultations, and, (c) with the consent of the cognizant Department and Faculty and the Academic Senate in each case, he recommends candidates for appointment with continuous tenure to the Board. The PresidentHe confers civil degrees earned in course on the recommendation of the cognizant Fac­ulties and the Academic Senate and honorary degrees either on the recommendation of the Academic Senate or his own recommendation when approved by the Board. The acts of the Academic Senate and of each Faculty require the President'shis approval for validity. The PresidentHe transmits to the Board of Trustees communications of the Academic Senate on such matters as it considers proper and reports to the Academic Senate the decisions of the Board on these matters. The PresidentHe appoints members of University Committees, as well as priest chaplains to serve in the Office of Campus Ministry, who report directly to the President.

The Provost is the chief academic officer and acts for the President in his absence. The Provost is responsible for liaison with the Committee on Academic Affairs of the Board of Trustees. The Provost He has continuing general responsibility for the coordination and development of all academic units and programs, including, but not limited to, the Library, the Office of Sponsored Programs, and the Center for Planning and Information Technology. On behalf of the President, the Provosthe receives recommendations for academic appointments and for sabbatical and other leaves of absence and, upon their approval, issues the official letters of appointment or leave. The ProvostHe exercises general supervision of procedures leading to recommendations for appointments with continuous tenure and receives appeals for reconsideration of recommendations against reappointment. The ProvostHe approves applications to external agencies for funding of instructional, research, and service programs.

The Vice President for Finance and Administration, who is also the Treasurer of the University, is responsible for liaison with the Committee on Finance of the Board of Trustees and administers policies involving financial transactions and development of financial resources. The Vice President also has oversight over the office of Human Resource, Buildings and Grounds, and Maintenance. In addition, the Vice President coordinates and supervises the daily activities of the Internal Auditor, who has direct access to the President, the Chairman of the Audit Committee, and the Chairman of the Board, as necessary. The Office of the Controller exercises responsibility for general accounts, grant and contract accounts, student accounts, payroll, and the cashier's office. The Budget Administrator provides assistance in the preparation of the operating budget of the University for approval by the President and the Board of Trustees and is responsible for its administration. The Director of Purchasing procures equipment and supplies in response to authorized requisitions and stocks appropriate items. Since the Treasurer is charged with the collection, receipt, custody, disbursement, expenditure or disposal of all assets of the University, including cash, equipment, supplies, buildings, and real estate, all transactions involving these assets must have the Vice President'shis advance approval.

The Vice President for Student Life supervises the operation of services to students and the conduct of student activities, including those in athletics and intercollegiate sports. The Vice President has oversight of the offices of Dean of Students, Athletics, Career Services, Counseling Center, Campus Programs, Health Services, Housing and Resident Life, Multicultural and Special Services, Public Safety, Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate Student Association.

The Vice President for Administration supervises the operation of the physical plant and has oversight over the offices of Public Safety, Human Resources, Building and Grounds, and Maintenance.The Vice President for University DevelopmentInstitutional Advancement has oversight of the offices of Development and Alumni Relations. The Vice President's His primary responsibility is to assist the President, the Deans, and the Faculties in external relations of the University and in obtaining resources for its support.

The Vice President for Enrollment Management has oversight over recruitment and, in collaboration with the Deans of the Schools, admission of students into undergraduate and graduate programs. The Vice President also supervises the Office of Financial Aid.

The Vice President and Chief of Staff serves as the Secretary to the Board of Trustees and has oversight of the Office of General Council and the Office of Public Affairs.

The President's Council includes the President, the Provost, and the other Vice Presidents, General Counsel, and Executive Director of Public Affairs..

and other administrators appointed by the President.

4. Academic Senate. (click here for archived clean copy)

The Academic Senate shares with the President "the immediate responsibility for academic governing of the university by establishing, maintaining, supervising, and in general being responsible for the academic policies of the University" (Bylaws II, 6). Its Constitution, as approved by the Board of Trustees, is "in full force and effect binding to the same extent" as the Bylaws. The Constitution and, which is given below in Part B, ("GGeneral Governing Documents"), . The Constitution determines the membership of officers of administration, deans, faculty delegates, students, and others.

Elections of delegates from the Faculties, in proportion to the number of regular faculty members, are held in the individual schools during the month of March for three‑year terms beginning the following September 1. Deans send notices of the election at least two weeks in advance. Elections are by secret ballot, absentee ballots are excluded, and a simple majority is required. In the event of a vacancy before the expiration of a regular term, a delegate is elected for the remainder of the term.

The Director of Libraries and one professional member of the Library Staff elected by the Staff are members of the Senate. Student delegates are elected annually under the auspices of the Graduate Student Association and the Undergraduate Student Government. Both representatives of the Libraries and student representatives have full voting rights, except in passing on the qualifications of faculty members proposed for rank or tenure. The Registrar is a non-voting member of the Senate.

The three faculty representatives elected as non‑voting members of the Board of Trustees also serve as members of the Academic Senate, without vote but with the right to propose and second motions. In addition, the Senate may annually, by two-­thirds vote, invite non‑voting participation by other persons.

a. Committees of the Academic Senate

Ordinarily, the Chair of each standing committee of the Academic Senate is appointed from the membership, but other members may be appointed from any part of the University. Members serve for one year and may be reappointed. The standing committees are listed here in alphabetical order.

The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure investigates and reports to the Academic Senate any policy that may affect academic freedom and/or tenure.

The Committee on Appointments and Promotions examines all applica­tions for appointment, promotion, and tenure on which the Academic Senate must pass and makes recommendations for their disposition.

The Committee on Budget and Planning participates in an advisory capacity in the preparation of the University's annual operating budget and in the formulation and interpretation of the Administration's budgetary policies.

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