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The Times-Delphic’s guide to Drake’s government

Graphic by Veronica Meiss | Web Editor

1. Drake Bylaws & Academic Charter

The bylaws and Academic Charter act as the founding document and foundation of Drake University that everything else is built off of. It lists the mission statement and goals for the University and all basic procedures of how to operate specific areas. 

Similar to the U.S. Constitution, these are like the Drake Constitution. Together they establish the governing bodies of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Faculty Senate, Student Senate, president and provost as well as their roles and duties.

The bylaws and charter also lay out the rules and procedures for things like tenure, academic freedom, promotions and organization of faculty and staff. The bylaws can only be amended by a three-quarters majority approval of the BoT. The bylaws were last amended in January of 2022.

Any amendments to the charter, however, must first be enacted by either Faculty Senate, the president or BoT, then must be approved by a two-thirds vote from both Faculty Senate and the BoT.

The exception to this rule is any proposed change that would affect Student Senate. In that case, according to the charter, Student Senate must first initiate the change or it must be approved unanimously by the BoT.

The charter was last amended in April of 2021.

2. Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees acts as the board of directors for Drake. Their primary function is policy making and resource management for the University. They have complete executive power over the election of the president and can remove them from office for any “just cause” with a simple majority vote.

The Board has the power to establish or discontinue any colleges, schools or degree programs at Drake. They can also establish policies (not already stated in the bylaws) regarding appointment, compensation, tenure and dismissal of faculty members.

The Board establishes and controls the overall University budget as well as any fee, tuition, room or board costs. The Board also has complete ownership and control over the name “Drake University” or “Drake.” They also control all Drake property and get final say in the purchase, selling, renting or renovation of any land or buildings owned by the University.

According to the bylaws, the board cannot have any fewer than 21 members and no more than 44 members. The current board has 42 members. 

New members of the board are voted on by a simple majority of the current board members. With the exception of the University president (who automatically holds a board position), no other members of the board are allowed to receive any salary or compensation from Drake.

3. Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate acts as the chief legislative body within the University. They have the power to establish educational policy affecting the University as a whole, including Area of Inquiry, First Year Seminar and credit requirements. 

The University president and provost are non-voting members of the senate and recommend actions to or from the Board of Trustees. 

The senate is made up of three standing committees: Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, the Intercollegiate Athletics Council and the Executive Committee.

The senate is made up of at least one senator from each department, with some having two depending on the size of the department. The senate bylaws state there should be one senator for every 15 faculty members in any specific department. There are also four other At-Large senators voted on in a general election by the faculty.

4. Student Senate

Student Senate serves as the representative organization of the student body to the faculty and BoT.

Senate can establish and pass any policy concerning student life consistent with the rules of the University as a whole. They have control of the activities budget as well as approval and funding of all registered student organizations on campus. They can also approve motions and bylaws to be brought before the Faculty Senate and/or BoT for final approval. 

Student Senate controls the activities fee. Any change to the fee must first be initiated by them and then approved by both Student and Faculty Senates before being signed by the BoT.

The Student Senate is made up of an Executive Council containing the student body president, vice president of student life, vice president of student organizations, vice president of student activities and the student body treasurer; and a general council of six senators At-Large, two equity and inclusion senators and one senator from each school or college on campus, minus the Law School.

5. President and President’s Council

The president (currently Marty Martin) is the chief executive of the University and the official advisor to the BoT. The president acts as the educational and administrative head of Drake and is responsible for keeping the BoT up-to-date on campus matters. 

The president appoints chief officers, including the provost and treasurer of the University. They also oversee the President’s Council.

The President’s Council consists of eight members including the president. Other members of the council include but are not limited to: the chief student affairs officer, athletic director, provost and chief administration officer. 

Each member of the council oversees a different area of University operations. For example, Chief Administration Officer Venessa Macro oversees areas like facilities, HR and Public Safety. To put it simply, DPS Director Scott Law reports to Macro, who then reports to President Marty Martin.

6. Board of Student Communications 

The Board of Student Communications (BSC) is a joint subcommittee of the Student and Faculty Senate. 

The BSC’s main purpose is to fund and oversee Drake’s six student-run publications. The publications derive their funding from the media fee, a percentage of the activities fee. Any change to the fee must first be initiated by the BSC and then can only be approved by majority vote in at least two of the three bodies consisting of the BSC, Student Senate and Faculty Senate. Once approved, it goes to the BoT for final approval.

The BSC is an independent body that gets final say in the publications and their budgets. They have the power to add or remove any publication for any reason they deem necessary.

Voting members of the BSC include the co-chairs (the SJMC senator, and a faculty senator decided by Faculty Senate), the vice president of student organizations, one other student senator chosen by the Student Senate, three other faculty senators chosen by the Faculty Senate and an editorial representative chosen by the heads of each publication.

The heads of each publication, which are decided by the BSC, also sit on the BSC but do not get a vote. The only other non-voting member of the board is a business manager who’s in charge of monitoring the funds. The business manager is selected by the rest of the BSC from a pool of candidates provided by the Student Senate.

7. Provost

The provost (currently Sue Mattison) is selected by the president and approved by the BoT. They serve as the chief academic officer of the University.

They oversee academic policymaking, planning, budgeting and the evaluation of promotions and tenures. They also oversee the quality and vitality of all instruction, research and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate programs.

The provost assists the president in coordinating ongoing administrative operations of the university and, in the absence of the president for any reason, will serve as the chief executive officer and interim president of the University.

They hold a position on the President’s Council and serve as a non-voting member of the Faculty Senate. The provost oversees the academic leadership of the University.

8. Academic Leadership

Academic leadership of the University consists of all the deans of each college and school, including the Admission Office, Cowles Library and the Registrar. 

The deans report directly to the provost. The deans of each school are not to be mistaken for the dean of students, who falls under the oversight of the Chief Student Affairs Officer (currently Jerry Parker) on the President’s Council.

9. Registered Student Organizations

Registered student organizations, commonly known as RSOs, consist of all officially registered student-run clubs and organizations on campus. 

RSOs become registered via approval of Student Senate after they’ve made their case before the senate as to why they should become an RSO. Senate gets final say in the approval and removal of RSO’s.

Perks of becoming an RSO include receiving funding from the Student Senate, which gets final say in how much funds are allocated to the specific organization, and the legal privilege to use the name “Drake” or similar titles in the name, branding or promotion of the organization.

10. Individual Colleges & Schools

Each individual college or school at Drake is run by a group of administrators, including its dean. All decisions regarding the school, including any changes or additions to the programs and degrees they offer, are made internally before approval by the BoT.

The Drake bylaws and Faculty Senate bylaws both recommend that all decisions regarding specific degrees and programs be left up to the individual schools and that Faculty Senate should only intervene if absolutely necessary.

11. Student Activities Board

The Student Activities Board (SAB) is one of the most funded RSOs under the supervision of Student Senate. 

They organize events and activities year round and are in charge of the campus Relays activities, including choosing who gets a square on Painted Street and organizing the Relays Concert.

12. Unity Roundtable

Unity Roundtable, simply referred to as Unity, is a council of different multicultural organizations  who work towards inclusion and education on campus. Unity is currently made up of representatives from nine different campus RSOs.

Unity is overseen by the equity and inclusion senator and therefore acts as a subcommittee of Student Senate. Unity receives funding from Student Senate that they distribute to their member organizations.

13. Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, commonly known as FSL, oversees all the social fraternities and sororities at Drake. The FSL director (currently Liz Caldwell) falls under the oversight of the Chief Student Affairs Officer.

14. Office of Residence Life

The Office of Residence Life oversees all on-campus living conditions and residence halls. The Director of Residence Life (currently Lorissa Sowden) falls under the oversight of the Chief Student Affairs Officer. 

15. IFC, NPHC & The Panhellenic Council

The Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and The Panhellenic Council (Panhel) are the governing bodies that govern the social fraternities and sororities at Drake. 

IFC is in charge of overseeing and governing the fraternities; Panhel governs and oversees the sororities; NPHC governs and oversees the historically Black service fraternities and sororities known as the Divine Nine.

16. Individual Multicultural Organizations

Like the other RSOs, each individual multicultural organization has their own governing executive council. Some receive funding from Student Senate, while others are considered religious groups and cannot receive direct funds. Those groups not receiving direct funds get an allocation from the Unity budget instead.

17. Resident Housing Association 

The Resident Housing Association (RHA) oversees the executive councils of each resident hall and offers programming. RHA also facilitates communication between students and the Office of Residence Life.

18. Resident Assistants 

Resident Assistants, known as RAs, live in the dorm halls and oversee groups of residents. They are in charge of programming as well as keeping their residents safe and comfortable.

RAs report directly to the Office of Residence Life.

19. Individual Fraternity & Sorority Chapters

Each individual fraternity and sorority chapter has their own executive council that governs and oversees the chapter as a whole. They do not receive any funding from the University; all funds come directly from their members and/or their national organizations.

20. Individual Resident Hall Executive Councils

Each Resident Hall has an executive council made up of the residents of that hall. The EC works closely with the RAs in the same building to provide programming and to address issues within the hall. The ECs receive direct funding from RHA.


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