University Council Constitution and By-laws

(Print Version)


BELIEVING that the fundamental goal of this land-grant university is to serve as a dynamic force in society by providing both a reservoir of knowledge and a stimulating academic atmosphere for the transmittal and application of that knowledge; and further believing that the establishment of these conditions encourages the discovery of new principles and truths and the development of an appreciation of human values; and
BELIEVING that the attainment of the objective requires mutual understanding and joint effort of the governing board, administration, faculty, staff, and students; and
BELIEVING that a university functions most effectively under orderly but flexible and adaptive processes of administration and government:
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University does hereby enact a Constitution and Bylaws for the University Council with the approval of the President of the University and the Board of Visitors, by whom authority is delegated.


With the passage of Morrill Act by Congress in July, 1862 and subsequent action of the Virginia Legislature in 1864, 1872, and 1944, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was created and has been developed as a university charged with the responsibility to serve the citizens of Virginia and the nation.

Recognizing the complexity of university governance and acknowledging the need for faculty, staff, and student participation in the conduct of university affairs, the University Council, University Commissions, University Advisory Councils, and University Standing Committees provide an organizational structure through which faculty, salaried staff, student, and administrative responsibilities are shared and fulfilled.

The University Council and the University Commissions constitute the main resident bodies for policy formulation. Their memberships include representation from Administration, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, College Faculty Associations, Administrative and Professional Faculty, Graduate Student Assembly, Student Government Association, and representatives from other interest groups where appropriate. The University Commissions formulate and recommend policies to the University Council, which in turn makes recommendations to the President of the University. Final authority rests with the President of the University and the Board of Visitors.

The Constitutions and Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Graduate Student Assembly, and Student Government Association are presented in separate publications. Persons concerned with the governance of the University are encouraged to consult the constitutions and bylaws of these organizations.

Constitution of the University Council

Bylaws of the University Council

About University Council

University Council is the apex of the university governance structure, and all university commissions report directly to it.

The council evolved from the Council of Administration, which was created in the 1920-21 session “to assist the president of the institution in administrative matters, chiefly concerning students.” As the scope of the council broadened to include academic matters, it became known as the Academic Council.

The council changed its name to University Council in fall 1966 and added two students—the president of the Student Government Association and a graduate student—to its voting membership for the first time in fall 1969. Two additional students— the vice president of the Student Government Association and a Graduate Assembly alternate—were added in a non-voting capacity in the fall 1971.

In 1973 the board of visitors approved proposed amendments to the constitution to add one classified employee, an additional voting student member to the two already seated, and three additional non-voting student members—junior class president, SGA vice president, and graduate student—to University Council.

In 1991, the council approved the report of the Task Force on Council, Commissions, and Committees, which increased the number of commissions reporting and sending representatives to the council to eight, among them a new Commission on Classified Staff Affairs, and added two chairs on the council to represent the African-American community, one elected by the Black Faculty and Staff Caucus and one by the Black Organizations Council.

Throughout the years since, membership has been updated periodically to reflect new officials or new governance organizations. For example, in 2002, a Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity was incorporated.

In 2005, the council’s constitution was amended so that membership would automatically reflect the addition or removal of ex officio members as the university’s organizational structure changes.