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Current By-Laws (PDF)



Overall Organization

  • Within the Department, the ultimate authority resides in its voting members except in those instances when the College or University has vested authority in the Chair. Voting members of the Department are those who are budgeted to the Department and includes all full-time faculty members [Lecturers, Research Professors, Adjunct faculty with full-time load (4+ courses per year) and Tenure-Track faculty]. Operation of the department is conducted by the Chair, Graduate and Undergraduate Coordinators, and Standing and Ad hoc Committees.
  • The Chair is the chief administrative officer of the department. S/he oversees the professional office staff and all aspects of the academic program, such as: teaching assignments, recruitment, space, promotion, tenure, and annual evaluation of faculty. The Chair appoints and supervises the Graduate and Undergraduate Coordinators and selects and supervises the members of all committees. On a routine basis, the Chair supervises the day-to-day activities of the Department and in conjunction with the coordinators and committees assures that all policies and procedures are carried out. In
    addition, the Chair acts as a liaison between the Department and the College
  • The Chair is also the chief financial officer of the Department. S/he is responsible for the final recommendations for salaries and leaves. The Chair supervises all receipts and expenditures and prepares the annual academic program review and budget proposal to the Dean. All budget documents shall be available to any voting member of the Department on request. In addition, the Chair acts as a liaison to the College development officers who aid in outside fund raising for the Department.
  • Standing Committees include the Steering Committee, the Graduate Admissions Committee, the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the Merit Committee, the Student Awards Committee, the Social Media Committee, the University of Florida Online (UFO) Committee, the Alumni Development Committee, and the By-Laws Committee.
  • The Steering Committee is set-up by the Department Chair and consists of the Department Chair, Graduate and Undergraduate Coordinators and other more senior faculty to represent department focus areas.
  • The Graduate Admissions Committee is responsible for the admission of graduate students and for reviewing conduct related to the successful performance of graduate student requirements. This committee consists of three members appointed from the chair including the Graduate Coordinator who chairs the committee. Members serve two-year terms that may be renewed at the discretion of the Chair.
  • The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee is responsible for the undergraduate curriculum. This committee consists of two members plus the Undergraduate Coordinator as chair. Members serve two-year terms that may be renewed at the discretion of the Chair.
  • The Student Awards Committee is responsible for voting on Department of Geography nominations and student applications for any awards that target either undergraduate or graduate students in the Department of Geography. The committee consists of three faculty members one of whom serves as Chair. Meets as required throughout the academic year. Members serve two-year terms that may be renewed at the discretion of the Chair.
  • The Social Media Committee oversees strategy and planning for the Department’s web design and content and the Department’s use of social media for outreach (e.g., Twitter and Facebook). Members of the Committee will include the Department Chair, Graduate and Undergraduate Coordinators, Alumni Coordinator, Social Media Coordinator, and graduate student representative, one of whom serves as Chair of Committee. Meets as
    required throughout the academic year. Members serve two-year terms that may be renewed at the discretion of the Chair.
  • The UFO (Online) Committee addresses issues and concerns of the Department’s online program and offers pathways for future growth. Members of the Committee include faculty members teaching in the Department’s online courses, one of whom serves as Chair of Committee. Meets as required throughout the academic year. Members serve two-year terms that may be renewed at the discretion of the Chair.
  • The Alumni Development Committee addresses policies and initiatives designed to elicit support and participation from the Department’s alumni and coordinate all Department’s alumni relationships. Members of the Committee include the Department Chair, Alumni Development Chair, and two others. The Alumni Coordinator serves as Chair. Meets as required throughout the academic year. Members serve two-year terms that may be renewed at the discretion of the Chair.
  • A Departmental By-Laws Committee appointed by the Chair of no fewer than three budgeted, tenure track departmental faculty will meet to review and revise existing bylaws as needed. This same committee can also draft new by-laws as warranted by changes to college or university policy, or departmental needs. Revisions will be voted on by the full faculty and any changes require a quorum and a majority vote for approval.
  • Ad hoc Committees, such as Faculty Search Committees, are appointed by the
    Chair and from time to time for a fixed duration to meet departmental needs.
  • Faculty Search Committees, review the applicants and suggest the pool to bring to campus for interview. All faculty members also have access to review the potential applicants and bring up for discussion and review any candidate they feel has been overlooked by the committee. The Search Committee, Department Chair and all voting Faculty members ultimately discuss and decide upon the final on-campus interview candidates. At the end of the interview process, the committee reports back to the larger faculty with summary information on each candidate and any feedback from the faculty, prior to a vote occurring.
  • The Graduate Coordinator is a faculty member appointed by the Chair for a three-year term and is given an annual course reduction. S/he is responsible for the administration of the graduate program: including correspondence with prospective students, coordination of admissions, teaching fellowships, and, in consultation with relevant faculty, the regular evaluation of graduate students. The appointment may be renewed for up to an additional three-year term at the discretion of the Chair.
  • The Undergraduate Coordinator is a faculty member appointed by the Chair for a three-year term and is given an annual course reduction. S/he is responsible for undergraduate advising and in consultation with the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee oversees the undergraduate curriculum. The appointment may be renewed for up to an additional three-year term at the discretion of the Chair.
  • Faculty meetings are called by the Chair as needed. The Chair presides at these meetings and determines the agenda, in consultation with the faculty. Fifty percent or more of the number of voting members of the Department excluding those on leave constitute a quorum.
  • Faculty meetings can be called by full-time faculty members if at least one-third of them initiate the request.
  • Faculty on leave or absent from a meeting are permitted to vote on any specific motion or matter provided they are fully informed of the issues under discussion.
  • The secret ballot will routinely be employed in making personnel decisions. On all other matters, the secret ballot will be employed upon a motion and second to that effect.
  • The Department Chair is responsible for sending periodic email bulletins to the faculty (and others, as appropriate) about events and developments that affect the Department.
  • The Department preference is for a rotating Chair that shall pass among a diverse range of faculty. Accordingly, chairs will normally serve a four-year term. Should the faculty choose, a Chair’s term may be extended for a second term. Former chairs may serve again following a full term out of office.
  • The Chair will be evaluated in a review organized by the Department’s senior faculty.
  • Visiting faculty are welcome to attend general departmental faculty meetings, and may be recognized by the Chair in general discussion. However, Visiting faculty do not have a vote on departmental business.
  •  The Chair may appoint Visiting faculty to serve on department committees (including field committees) what is a field committee as part of their service assignment, and they may vote in those committees.
  •  Faculty who are recruited by a search and who are appointed to Visiting Faculty lines for administrative reasons in anticipation of an imminent appointment to a tenure-track or tenured faculty position have full participation and voting rights on all department matters (subject to limitations in College and University rules). For example, a foreign national
    who is appointed as Visiting Assistant Professor while awaiting the completion of Immigration procedures will generally be considered as an Assistant Professor for purposes of department governance.
  •  Lecturers attend and participate fully in general departmental faculty meetings, and, as a rule, they have a vote on all matters EXCEPT those that assess or address research.

Release Time

  • Reduction of the usual 2-2 teaching responsibilities; Course reductions, release time and research leaves are possible within the Department. Such actions are taken with clearly understood criteria, and ultimately at the discretion of the Chair.
  • Current Department policy allows two instances of release time:
  • Junior faculty may be given a semester of research leave within their first three years with the expectation of increased research productivity. Here research leave is understood as release from all teaching and service requirements.
  • The Graduate Coordinator, Undergraduate Coordinator, and Associate
    Chair are granted a one course annual reduction in exchange for their service.
    Here course reduction means teaching one less course in a year while continuing to participate in the normal life of the Department including assigned committee work.
  • The expectation of increased productivity or reward for service or some
    combination of the two should guide the granting of release time. In evaluating a request for release time, the Chair will consider such factors as: how recently and how often the individual faculty member has received time off, results of past leaves or course reductions, whether or not an effort has been made to secure outside funding, what service is being rewarded or being offered in return, class coverage and responsibility to graduate students, and the overall fairness and practicality of the request in the context of the competing needs and desires of other faculty members.
  • Types of release time include:
    • release from all teaching and service requirements (research leave) and
    •  course reduction of one or two courses without administrative release course reduction).
  • Requests for release time need to be in the Chair’s hands in sufficient time for the Chair to make a decision before the class offerings are submitted for the semester in question.

Additional Teaching Responsibilities

  • Increases in the usual 2-2 teaching responsibilities are also possible within the
    Department. Such actions are taken with clearly understood criteria and ultimately at the discretion of the Chair in his/her responsibilities for the allocation of teaching assignments.
  • Current College policy permits the accommodation of a load of up to 3-3 at the wish of the faculty member or when expectations of undergraduate and graduate teaching, research activity and service, as defined under Merit Pay Criteria are not met. In evaluating the possibility of additional class loads, the Chair will consider such factors as: patterns of undergraduate and graduate class enrollments in the preceding years, patterns of graduate student supervision and graduate committee membership, whether or not an effort has been made to secure outside funding, scholarly productivity as
    defined in the section dealing with Merit Pay Criteria, and levels of service activities.
  • Additional courses should be restricted to subject materials within the faculty member’s broad sub-disciplinary specialty, and should be assigned at a level appropriate to maintaining a mix of introductory and more advanced offerings.
  • Such increased productivity in teaching are included in the Merit Pay Criteria and will be considered by the Merit Pay Committee.

Affiliate Faculty

  • Candidates for Affiliate Faculty status may be nominated by any member of the budgeted faculty or upon request of a potential affiliate faculty member. The faculty members will examine the candidate’s curriculum vitae, discuss the case, and conduct a vote during a regularly scheduled faculty meeting. A simple majority vote of the present faculty will allow the candidate to be appointed as an Affiliate Faculty member of the department.
  • Following a majority vote for Affiliate Faculty status, the department chair will draft a letter of appointment stating conditions appropriate to the position, as stated in these bylaws. The letter must be submitted to, and approved by, the College.
  • Affiliate Faculty holding Graduate Faculty Status may serve as either a co-chair or regular committee member representing the Geography Department on Geography graduate student committees. Affiliate Faculty may not serve as the sole chair of a Geography graduate student committee. The Geography Department requires that the committee chair, or co-chair, be a tenure-track, budgeted faculty member of Geography with full graduate faculty status. According to Graduate School policy, Affiliate Faculty members may not serve as the external committee member or the minor representative in the affiliate department.
  • Affiliate Faculty will have the right to participate in departmental listserv correspondence and attend faculty meetings. They shall not be permitted to vote during faculty meeting, nor participate in review processes for either the department chair or other faculty members.
  • Affiliate Faculty members shall not serve on departmental standing committees but may serve on ad hoc committees. The Department will review status annually in the spring semester and extend Affiliate Faculty status on a case-by-case basis.
  •  Affiliate Faculty may serve as an advisor or second reader of an honors thesis for undergraduate students.

Faculty Development

Merit Pay Criteria

  • Meritorious achievement is recognized for those who contribute to the realization of the Department’s goals in pursuing excellence, and to the intellectual life of the Department and that of the larger academic community.
  • The Department Chair shall determine which faculty members will be awarded merit pay increases when such money is available. There shall be a departmental Merit Committee with responsibility for recommending to the Chair those individuals who should be eligible for such awards. The committee shall classify each faculty member’s contribution and performance as highly meritorious, meritorious, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. The Chair, in consultation with the Merit Committee, shall determine merit awards between and within these categories. Each member of the Merit Committee will be excluded from the discussion of her or his own assessment. The
    assessments of each member of the Merit Committee will be made by the remaining members of the committee. The committee’s assessments will be based on the Annual Activities Reports, which include each faculty member’s yearly report and the accompanying letter from the Chair.
  • The Merit Committee shall consist of three tenured faculty chosen from among those budgeted in the Department. The Merit Committee member with the greatest length of service on the committee will serve as Chair.
  • Determinations of merit shall be based on consideration of faculty’s research, teaching and service record in the past year. The faculty member’s Departmental work assignments are taken into consideration when making merit assessments. Specifically, this review will be based on their assigned effort, or distribution across the three categories of teaching, research and service. Expectations for productivity in each category are a function of effort assigned.
  • It is assumed that the service duties of junior faculty will be lighter than those of their senior colleagues.
  • For purposes of evaluation, the category of research shall include (but not be entirely related to:
    • articles in professional refereed journals
    • scholarly books or monographs
    • textbooks
    • edited books
    • chapters in books
    • convention papers
    • fellowships, grants and other financial awards
    • research proposal development
    • fundraising
    • invited papers and addresses
    • book reviews, commentaries, research notes and research reports
      • When evaluating research productivity, consideration will be given to quality and quantity. Distinctions will be made between publications in leading journals and others in the field and its subfields and among publishing houses.
  • For purposes of evaluation, the category of teaching shall include undergraduate and graduate instruction, thesis and dissertation supervision (both within and outside the Department of Geography), intern supervision, course and curriculum development, the cultivation of new graduate students, and other related activities.
  • For purposes of evaluation, the category of service shall include:
    • Attendance at faculty meetings, work on standing and ad hoc departmental committees
    • Undergraduate advising, and attendance at recruitment colloquia
    • Exceptional performance of normal departmental responsibilities
    • Service as departmental graduate coordinator, undergraduate coordinator, data lab and consortium management, and related activities
    • Service on College or University committees, participation in or supervision of special programs and initiatives, and other significant contributions to the College or University
    • Serving on editorial boards, as an officer in a professional association, a Chair or section leader for a major professional conference or other professional program participation, a reviewer for professional journals and other publications, a reviewer for professional research funding agencies, and a contributor to projects associated with professional work or other activities enhancing the reputation and visibility of the Department, College or University
    • Serving as a journal or academic series editor
    • Membership on government boards or commissions, leadership in community organizations, and election to public office or other activity enhancing the reputation and visibility of the Department, College or University
    • Service to primary or secondary schools


  • The Chair will facilitate the appointment of a mentor for each untenured member as early as possible in their first semester. The choice of mentor need not be based on similarities of academic work. The emphasis should be on finding someone the untenured member can talk with freely about all matters concerning the tenure process.
  • The Chair will seek to assign a modest amount of administrative duties to tenure-track faculty while bearing in mind the need to balance the administrative load among all faculty.
  • Untenured members will be encouraged to share their work with their mentor. They will be especially encouraged to discuss with their mentor decisions regarding their course preparations, paper presentations, research, and publishing activities with the mentor helping to evaluate these decisions in the light of the best possible tenure and promotion portfolio.
  • The mentor will encourage and guide the untenured member in seeking funding for research projects or release time.
  • Prior to the end of each academic year before tenure, the Chair will consult with the mentor and meet with the untenured member before writing the end of the year evaluation letter.

Peer Teaching Evaluations

  • Each academic year the Chair will request teaching evaluations from a tenured
    geography faculty member of every untenured faculty member. The faculty member may be selected by the untenured faculty member, if approved by the Chair. Each academic year the Chair will request teaching evaluations from a tenured geography faculty member of every untenured faculty member. The faculty member may be selected by the untenured faculty member, if approved by the Chair.
  • Evaluations will be based on classroom visits and examination of syllabi, hand-outs, paper and exam assignments, web-related materials, and any other information the faculty consider relevant to judging his/her teaching.
  • These evaluations will be particularly concerned with techniques, style, and
    effectiveness of teaching as well as the content or substance of instruction, which reflect an individual’s command of and fluency in one’s field of expertise.

Tenure-Accruing Faculty: Policy on Third-Year Review

  • The midterm review process provides structured and constructive information to assist candidates to meet college and university requirements for tenure and promotion. The review is normally done in the third year. It should be designed to provide the faculty member with constructive comments to strengthen the eventual tenure packet and provide the faculty member with a true assessment of how her/his efforts are perceived
    by peers within her/his own discipline. It also will assist that faculty member, in that peers, other than her/his own Chair, will provide an evaluation of the faculty member’s efforts.
  • The fact that the review process takes place at the end of the third year of service should allow for proper review of the faculty members teaching, research and service efforts and will allow enough time for the faculty member to make any modifications necessary for the successful award of tenure in the future, if any deficiencies are noted in the review. Likewise, it could also be used to assist the faculty member in the choice as to when she/he would most likely be successful in applying for tenure.
  • The review should begin early in the third year of appointment. The dossier will include:
    • An abridged tenure and promotion packet
    • A research/scholarship portfolio including all of the candidate’s research publications, papers submitted for publication, grant proposals, and similar information
    • Annual letters of evaluation from the Chair
  • The dossier will be made available to the tenured faculty of the Associate and Full Professor rank. A committee appointed by the Chair and the mentor of the candidate will review the dossier and assess the candidate’s performance. The assessment will address the issues normally considered in tenure and promotion deliberations and will determine if the candidate is making satisfactory progress toward promotion and tenure. The committee will prepare a report for a meeting of tenured faculty in the Department
    which will discuss the candidate’s progress toward tenure and promotion and advise the Department Chair on what might be included in his/her letter of review to the candidate. The Department’s faculty would typically address the following questions:

    • Is the candidate’s teaching at or above department norms and expectations or making steady progress in that direction?
    • Has the candidate presented papers in appropriate venues and are the number and quality of those papers acceptable?
    • Has the candidate published at an acceptable rate and in appropriate journals?
    • Is the candidate beginning to establish a regional and national reputation in her/his field?
    • Is the candidate preparing her/himself to attract external funding to support her/his scholarly work?
    • Has the candidate gained Graduate Faculty Status and served on Master’s and doctoral committees?
    • Does the candidate’s record suggest a teaching and research trajectory that is likely to lead to the rank of Associate (and later Full) Professor?
    • Is the candidate appropriately involved in professional service activities at the local, state, national, or international level?
  • The Department Chair will draft a letter of review based on the candidate’s dossier, the committee report as well as the discussion and other information from the Department faculty.
  • The letter should consider the candidate’s annual work assignments and any support the Department may have provided the candidate. It should identify areas of strengths and weaknesses in the candidate’s record and make clear recommendations, if any, on how the candidate may improve her/his dossier and performance. The goal is to give thoughtful and constructive assessments and suggestions that will help the candidate meet college and university requirements for tenure and promotion. The letter will be explicit in stating that the letter itself is not a decision for tenure and promotion but is
    rather a mid-course evaluation.
  • Before April 30, the Department Chair will meet with the candidate to provide a copy and discuss the letter of review. The candidate and Department Chair should discuss strengths and weaknesses in the candidate’s dossier; what the candidate might do, if anything, to strengthen her/his papers in the future; and what assistance might be available in the department, college, and/or university to address candidate needs and improve performance, if needed. In making these recommendations the Chair and tenured faculty members are not entering into a contractual relationship with the candidate such that if these recommendations are fulfilled the candidate is assured of tenure. Rather they are recognizing and acting upon their responsibility to support the
    candidate in her/his final years before tenure. A copy of the letter of review will be placed in the candidate’s personnel file. The faculty member has the right to submit a written response to the report if so desired, and the response will be placed in the faculty member’s personnel file for future reference. The Chair’s letter will not become part of the tenure and promotion packet.
  • The Department Chair’s letter of review will be forwarded to the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs by the end of the Spring semester.

Tenure and Promotion Criteria

  • Candidates for tenure and/or promotion will be evaluated with respect to their
    accomplishments in teaching, research and service. The department requires that candidates demonstrate significant achievements in all three areas. Especially notable achievements must be evident in research and in at least one other area. Criteria employed in these considerations will be the same as those detailed extensively in the preceding section governing Merit Pay.
    Tenure and/or Promotion to Associate Professor
  • Research: Candidates must have established a program of original research or writing that has gained recognition in refereed journals and/or published books. The expectation is that the candidate will have published a book and/or a significant number of refereed articles, that are either first-authored or for which the candidate is the major author/researcher. Also considered important will be textbooks, scholarly monographs, edited books, chapters in books, book reviews, commentaries, research notes and research reports. The reputation and quality of the journals and publishers will bear on the assessment of publications. Generally, some publications will be derived from the individual’s doctoral dissertation. Some publications or ongoing scholarship (likely to result in new publications) should clearly extend beyond such dissertation research and demonstrate new research initiatives. The seeking and/or successful attainment of fellowships, grants and awards, and fundraising will enhance the candidate’s standing. Candidates are also expected to have given paper presentations at conventions or other
    scholarly meetings.
  • Service: Candidates must have demonstrated commitment to enhancing the life of the Department, College and University. The service contributions of untenured assistant professors are kept relatively light to facilitate excellence in teaching and research. Nonetheless, some student advising and committee work is expected. Scholarly service to the discipline (e.g. reviewing submissions to journals and panel participation at professional meetings, editorial activities in profession) is also expected. Service contributions to the community, state, or nation are considered important.
  • Teaching: Teaching effectiveness will be evaluated in a number of ways, including peer evaluations of classroom performance, instructional materials (e.g. syllabi, exams), student evaluations, intern supervision, course and curriculum development, teaching awards and participation in thesis and dissertation committees. Candidates must demonstrate a sustained commitment to excellence in teaching.

Promotion to Full Professor

  • Teaching: Teaching effectiveness will be evaluated in a number of ways, including peer evaluations of classroom performance, instructional materials (e.g. syllabi, exams), student evaluations, intern supervision, course and curriculum development, and participation in thesis and dissertation committees. Teaching performance must be exemplary to merit promotion to full professor. Normally this will include supervision of Master’s theses or Ph.D. dissertations. Innovative curriculum development is expected.
  • Research: Candidates must have established a national and/or international reputation for excellence in scholarship, as made evident by the number of publications and the quality of their journals and presses, by book reviews, by citations of work, and by assessments of recognized authorities. There must be evidence of substantial publications since the candidate was last promoted, indicating a sustained research program. Significant success in winning grants, fellowships, and/or awards is expected.
  • Service: Candidates must have established a notable record of service to the
    Department, College and University, as well as to the profession. This service should include the assumption of academic, professional, and administrative leadership roles (e.g. chairing committees, administering programs, organizing and convening sections for annual meetings, membership on editorial boards). Contributions to the community, state, and/or nation are also expected.

Promotion to Distinguished Professor

  • Full professors (with the exception of endowed chairs and graduate research professors) may be nominated by the department Chair for promotion to the rank of Distinguished Professor in recognition of well-established national and/or international reputations in their fields of endeavor and exceptional records of achievement (beyond that expected of full professors) in the areas of teaching, research and professional and public service.

Lecturer Promotion Criteria

  • Candidates for promotion to senior/master lecturer will be evaluated primarily with respect to their accomplishments in teaching and, secondarily, their service record (if service responsibilities were assigned). Other scholarly activities and/or membership in graduate student committees are not expected but will be considered. The department requires that candidates demonstrate significant achievements in teaching.


Admission and Funding

  • All graduate student candidates are first ranked by the Graduate Admissions
    Committee on whether they will be accepted or not and second ranked on funding merit.
  • The Department’s goal is to provide funding to assist new M.A./M.S. students for two years and new Ph.D. students for three years.
  • New funding allocation decisions give priorities first to Ph.D. and then to M.A. applicants.

Graduate Student Admissions

  • Although exceptions can be made, the Department seeks to accept only those graduate students who meet the following minimum criteria:
    • GRE’s greater than 1,000 (foreign student scores will also be evaluated for
      competence in English language skills)
    • Overall GPAs greater than 3.0. Last two years of undergraduate work may be
      considered more heavily.
    • Letters of evaluation by others both inside and outside University of Florida.
    • Other requirements, once the above are met, will consider student Department fit in regards to topic area, methodological focus, and both the short-term and long-term availability of an appropriate faculty member.
  • Completed files are evaluated by Graduate Admissions Committee, appointed by the
  • Acceptable files are transmitted to potential advisor(s) to confirm willingness to Chair their committees.
  • Only candidates meeting minimum academic criteria, who can be linked to particular faculty advisors, and admission is approved by advisors are accepted.
  • Candidates will be ranked according to merit:
    • High priority
    • Medium priority
    • Low priority
    • No funding recommended
  •  Letters of acceptance are sent out immediately after committee decisions.