Engagement and Leadership

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Earlham sees engagement with community governance as a key component of co-curricular education. Students can
get involved through student senate, student organizations, student activities and other opportunities.

Through these pursuits, Earlham students can learn how to make thoughtful intentional choices, to develop leadership skills, and to initiate, plan and complete projects successfully.


As a college shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Earlham College’s governance processes are unusually open and participatory. The College encourages contributions from teaching and administrative faculty, from students and from hourly staff.

For more information on College governance, please consult with the Office of the Office of the Vice President and Dean of Student Life.

When an individual is responsible for making a decision, s/he is expected to consult broadly — to listen carefully and weigh what others say. When a committee or other group is responsible for making a decision or recommendation, we expect them to reach their conclusion via consensus. The practices of consultation and consensus make the College’s governance processes unlike those in use at most other colleges or universities.

Earlham College also values knowledge and expertise, and this leads us to place particular responsibility and authority on those with recognized capabilities within specific areas.

These two principles — of broad participation via consultation and consensus, and of expertise — inform our distinctive governance process. The College’s Governance Manual provides authoritative guidance on how we make various kinds of decisions, and on how members of the community can find significant and appropriate ways to participate in governance.

The Earlham Board of Trustees bears final and ultimate responsibility for the operations, activities and property of the College. The assignment of particular responsibilities to the Faculty and to the President, and through the Faculty and the President to others flows initially from the Earlham By-Laws, for which the Board of Trustees bears responsibility. The Governance Manual thus includes the following documents:

  1. The By-laws of Earlham College, which provide the foundation for governance;
  2. The Faculty Governance Document, which lays out how the Faculty exercises its responsibilities, how it shapes regular channels for consultation, and how it invites students to participate in governance;
  3. The Administration of Earlham, by which the President lays out how administrative responsibilities are delegated to others and coordinated one with another;
  4. The Student Constitution, which lays out how students organize themselves to participate in governance; and
  5. The Staff Engagement and Advisory Committee document, which establishes a mechanism for communication with hourly staff and provides an avenue for hourly staff participation in governance.

Accompanying the Governance Manual are a series of essays that provide advice and guidance for understanding our governance processes and participating in them.

All standing College committees are created by the Faculty, except for the Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Committee and the Vendor Relations Committee, which are created by the Board of Trustees. In acting to create a committee, the Faculty will establish the charge for the committee, its composition, and the manner of appointment or election. The Faculty elects members for three College committees: Nominating Committee, Faculty Interview and Search Committee, and Faculty Affairs Committee. Rules for election of these committees are stated in an appendix of the Governance Manual. For all other College committees, faculty members are appointed through nomination by the Nominating Committee and approval by the Faculty.


View a comprehensive list of the Standing Committees.

The normal term of a faculty appointment to a College committee is three years. Exceptions to this norm are designated under the appropriate committees. Nominating Committee occasionally recommends appointments for periods that differ from the normal term. These exceptions are usually in response to cases in which filling mid-term vacancies would compromise continuity or schedule future simultaneous terminations of a majority of the faculty on a committee.

The unqualified term “faculty” when used in the composition of a committee refers to the entire pool of Teaching Faculty, Administrative Faculty Who Also Teach, and Administrative Faculty from which we draw nominees. Under some committees, the pool is more specifically limited to subsets by Division, by Administrative or Teaching, etc.

“Ex-officio” status on a committee is taken to mean that a member holding a position so designated normally ought not serve as the convener of that committee. This is especially important in those situations in which a committee acts in an advisory capacity to the member holding that office.

The President is an ex-officio member of all College committees.

There are student members of all College committees except for committees that make decisions about student standing or committees that are involved in making judgments about individual members of the faculty or staff. Student members of committees are chosen through Student Government nominating procedures.

When staff members are included on a committee, they are selected by Staff Engagement and Advisory Committee.

Faculty, student and staff members of committees are of equal status; and, unless otherwise stated, may participate in forming a consensus or serve as convener.

From time to time, either the President or the Faculty may create ad hoc committees to accomplish special purposes. The charge and composition of these ad hoc committees are stated when they are created, and these ad hoc committees are dissolved when they complete the task for which they were created.

Within the terms of their charge, committees may create ad hoc sub-committees to further their work. Final decisions or recommendations should be made by the full committee.


As a central part of campus community life, the Office of Student Leadership and Runyan Center supports the holistic growth and development of students through meaningful experiences that foster leadership, social and multicultural interactions, and community building. The professional and student staff is committed to enhancing the Earlham College Mission through educational opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom, student organization support, welcoming facilities, and quality services.

The Office of Student Leadership provides guidance for the Earlham Student Government, organizes day trips, on-campus programs, club sports, alternative break trips, and assists all recognized clubs and organizations with planning and execution of their events.


A comprehensive list of Student Organizations is available at the Student Life website.


The Student Organizations Council (SOC) encourages the formation of new organizations when students’ needs are not being met by existing groups. A student group desiring recognition by SOC must submit a written constitution to SOC to begin the process. To be recognized by SOC, an organization must fit the criteria listed in the SOC Policy for Student Organizations.

Membership in organizations and participation in activities are open to all Earlham College students. Organizations receive recognition through application to SOC. Recognition makes an organization eligible to apply for funding from SOC.

  1. Students are free to belong to and form any organization to promote and develop their common interest.
  2. To use the College’s name, facilities or financial resources an organization must be recognized by SOC. To be considered for recognition, a group must submit a Petition of Recognition form.
  3. All groups recognized shall be considered official organizations of Earlham College and shall enjoy all privileges pertaining thereto.
  4. The aims of an organization must not run counter to the educational aims or the Quaker traditions of Earlham College, nor can an organization be recognized or funded if its adopted aims are to violate, or actions do in fact violate the community code or local, state or federal laws.
  5. Recognition and funding of an organization reflects Earlham’s commitment to act as a free forum for the expression of ideas, but do not imply the institution’s agreement with or the support of the proposed programs of any organization.
  6. Each group is required to attend a training and submit a budget each semester. SOC then allocates funds to groups based on meeting specific criteria which is outlined in these trainings. Each group is eligible for additional funds by completing the Special Allocations form. SOC will review the request and either approve or deny the funds. All requests must have a clear description of the event, date, time and location. An itemized budget must be submitted with this form.
  7. The purpose of an official Earlham organization which uses Student Activities funds should be to build community and provide support. Generally no activities will be funded that are not open to the entire community; however, SOC will entertain proposals which seek exception to this rule.
  8. SOC requires that every recognized organization have a faculty adviser.
  9. Financial reports from organizations funded by SOC are required twice a term. The budget for the coming term should be presented for the allocations meeting, and the report on how finances went for the term should be presented at the end of the current term.
  10. SOC reserves the right to withdraw recognition from any organization after due process.

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We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.