Bill 13-A-30 - Department Chair Policy


Approved by the Faculty Senate
November 20, 2013

BRIEF SUMMARY: This bill specifies the policy portion of the existing Faculty Handbook section on Department Chairs (Chapter 1, Section F9).


BE IT RESOLVED THAT: subject to the passage and approval of both this bill and its companion bill establishing a corresponding “procedures” section, Chapter 1, Section F9 of the Faculty Handbook be amended by replacing the existing content with the following “policy” section (with the companion “procedures” to follow it in the Handbook):

Department Chairs: Policy Section


The role of the department chairperson is recognized as a primary leadership position in the University. As the foremost departmental administrative officer and representative of the academic discipline, the chairperson serves in the unique position of exemplifying the highest standards in both faculty and administrative responsibilities, maintaining standards of the discipline, and meeting the expectations of the department. The maintenance of balance between these responsibilities requires careful attention by the department chairperson, departmental colleagues, and administrative officers. It suggests the need for considerable latitude in the leadership style utilized by the chairperson while performing within institutional guidelines, departmental constraints, and limitations imposed by the availability of resources.

The department chairperson is responsible for leadership which provides educational purpose and direction for the department. The chairperson is the faculty member of the department authorized to speak for and on behalf of the department, and links the department to the office of the dean of the college and other appropriate University administrative offices. The department chairperson must not only represent the legitimate interests of individual faculty members and the department to other members of the administration, but also must present accurately and fairly to colleagues in the department the positions of other administrators while interpreting the established policies of the University.

The chairperson cultivates and retains the respect of colleagues to provide effective leadership in the department. A successful chairperson leads the department through consistency, openness, candor, decisiveness, and fair and equitable treatment of all department members. As the departmental administrative leader, the chairperson is expected to evaluate issues with a broad point of view, analyze questions, and perceive consequences of decisions with clarity and accuracy. Regular consultation and open communication should be used in weighing and deciding questions before the department. Whether consultation is by private counsel, committee recommendation, or other means, the department chairperson assumes responsibility for those decisions assigned to the department by University policies and procedures.

From a faculty perspective, the department chairperson is a colleague who acts on behalf of members of the department in the administration of departmental activities. Administratively, the chairperson carries out duties assigned to the office. This is accomplished with the advice and judgment of the faculty when making recommendations concerning such matters as curriculum development, budgetary requests, and faculty recruitment, hiring, promotion, tenure, and termination. The chairperson is both a member of the department and a liaison between the department and the rest of the University. As a member of the department, the chairperson provides leadership in the common pursuit of departmental goals. As a departmental liaison, the chairperson represents the best interests of the department to the college and University administration.

While considerable diversity exists in the operation of the various academic departments, there is a common core of responsibilities assumed by the department chairperson. The leadership of the chairperson, however, cannot be viewed in isolation, for members of the department assume broad responsibilities and share accountability for departmental programs, operation, and personnel actions. The general responsibilities of the department chairperson are grouped under the following major categories: Administrative Functions, Faculty-Personnel Functions, Liaison Functions, Student-Related Functions, Leadership Functions, and Operational Functions. A detailed list of these functions is given in the Procedure section.


As a department chairperson, a faculty member assumes broad leadership roles that have specific functions and raise certain expectations. The review of a chairperson represents the ultimate in the collegial process, for it encourages faculty participation in departmental governance and effectively balances administrative decision-making responsibility. While the review of a department chairperson systematically focuses primarily on one person, the assessment of one's performance cannot be separated from the responsibilities assumed by all colleagues in the department. Similarly, administratively assigned tasks must be kept in their proper context. Colleagues in the department share in the responsibility for maintaining this perspective, as do deans, in making their recommendations to the Provost.

The assessment of a department chairperson is made possible through both formal and informal review mechanisms and periodic and extraordinary review cycles. Each of these is designed to provide input to the department chairperson in assessing individual performance and for suggesting areas that might be strengthened.

Formal and Informal Reviews

Throughout the academic year, departmental colleagues and administrators share a responsibility informally to provide insights to the department chairperson that may improve his/her overall leadership effectiveness. Annually, the dean will meet with the department chairperson for the purpose of discussing administrative performance. A written summary of this meeting will be shared with the individual chairperson and the Provost.

Periodic Department Chairperson Review

A newly appointed department chairperson will be reviewed during the third year of service concurrent with his/her appointment at the University. At the beginning of the third year, the dean will inform the Provost and call the department together for the purpose of initiating a review, discussing the process, and agreeing on the specific procedures to be followed. All departments will follow the general procedures along with mutually determined approaches at the department and college levels. The continuing appointment as chairperson will be subject to this review. The normal periodic review for individuals continued will be within a three- to five -year cycle as recommended by the dean and approved by the Provost.

Extraordinary Department Chairperson Review

An extraordinary review of the department chairperson may be initiated at any time by a majority vote of the members of the department in accordance with departmental procedures. The respective college dean or the Provost may also initiate a review at any time. Upon receipt of a request for extraordinary review, the appropriate college dean will call the department together as described in the periodic review cycle. The general procedures and instrument described in this document will be followed. Special attention may be focused on the timing of the review and areas of special concern resulting in the extraordinary request.

The Review Process

The entire review process will be conducted within the context of the responsibilities of the department and its individual members and the functions of the department chairperson. Emphasis will be placed on the nature and focus of the review, along with the following guidelines. Throughout this entire process, the department chairperson retains his/her right to resign the position.

Guidelines for the Review of Department Chairperson. The review of a department chairperson requires cooperation and mutual discussion. It is important that professional integrity and respect be maintained by all parties involved. The following guidelines are provided for those involved in the review process to ensure proper focus so the overall effort will not be counterproductive to the stated purpose:

  1. Adequate time should be provided throughout the process so individuals can effectively participate.
  2. Individual responses should be secured before written documents are shared.
  3. Input from faculty members, students, other chairpersons, and administrators should be properly balanced.
  4. The constructive nature of the review should remain foremost.
  5. Informal dialogue should be fostered on a continuing basis.
  6. Full departmental involvement should be stressed.
  7. The need to provide anonymity should be balanced with the need to fulfill professional responsibility.
  8. Opportunity for chairperson and faculty self-assessment should be encouraged.
  9. Flexibility in the process should be maintained so departmental differences can be addressed.
  10. The time frames near the beginning and ending of semesters should be avoided for the purposes of the review.
  11. Chairpersons may provide a Record of Service summary to faculty members to highlight recent activities.


  1. When the chairpersonship vacancy occurs, the Department, Dean and Provost will consult, and the Provost will determine whether the search process should be internal or national. Internal candidates are allowed in national search.
  2. The dean of the college will arrange a meeting of all full-time faculty members in the department. At this meeting, two decisions are made: first, departmental members of the search committee are selected, and second, the method for choosing a chairperson of the search committee is determined. Neither candidates for the position nor any faculty for whom there is a conflict of interest shall serve on the search committee. After the search committee is established, an additional faculty member from any other department in the University may be added to the search committee. Both the dean of the college and the search committee should agree on who will serve in this capacity. The additional faculty member operates as a full member of the committee.
Action Date
Introduced to Senate 11/6/13
Second Senate Meeting 11/20/13
Faculty Senate Vote 11/20/13
President’s Review
Board of Regents Approval
Posted to Faculty Handbook