Roles and Responsibilities of a Department Chair or Academic Area Head
Academic Department Chairs or
Academic Area Heads are essential and significant members of the University leadership. They represent
their faculty colleagues to the administration and the administration to their faculty.
They speak for the department (or area) to the college and university community, serving
as a channel of communication on program, personnel, and budget matters. They encourage
and foster excellence in research, scholarship, art-making, teaching, and professional
and university service. They also provide crucial leadership in the pursuit of the
University's commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The major responsibilities of department chairs and area heads include:
At the Department/Area Level
- Provide leadership to achieve the highest possible level of excellence in the research,
art-making, teaching, and service activities of the unit. The chair/head articulates
the goals of the unit and the unit's actions or requests in pursuit of these aims,
and maintains a climate that promotes creativity and innovation and exemplary professional
- Appoint undergraduate and graduate program directors, other administrators, and committee
chairs and members as appropriate.
- Coordinate execution of the unit's educational programs with the faculty, and schedule
courses and assign instructors to these courses in consultation with program directors,
the faculty, and the dean's office. Monitor course registrations and make appropriate
adjustments in course schedules and instructor assignments in cooperation with other
departments/areas/programs and the dean's office.
- Oversee unit seminar series, lectures, and other activities.
- Review the unit’s educational program for relevance and new opportunities.
- Coordinate the unit’s service assignments in consultation with the faculty.
- Set and communicate expectations for the scholarly and creative activity of faculty.
- Evaluate faculty annually. Maintain and implement processes for appointment, reappointment,
promotion, and tenure of faculty. Appoint committees and provide oversight for the
compilation of faculty dossiers for such evaluations.
- Provide mentoring and mentoring structures for the unit faculty.
- Provide an environment that, within the limitations of available resources, is supportive
of faculty professional activities and goals.
- Coordinate and plan sabbatical leaves and leaves without pay of the faculty
- Supervise part-time faculty.
- Supervise staff and management operations in the unit.
- Report on all separations, resignations, retirements, and deaths of faculty and staff
in the unit.
- Evaluate staff needs annually. Evaluate staff for the purposes of appointment, reappointment,
and permanent appointment.
- Catalyze the bridging of both scholarly and educational programs across departments
- Plan and administer the unit's budget in consultation with the dean’s office. Manage
budget expectations, and present departmental recruitment requests.
- Lead the recruitment efforts, when resources are available, for replacement or net
growth of faculty. The chair/head is responsible for making certain that the diversity
goals of the department/unit and college/school are met by assuring a diverse pool
of highly qualified candidates.
- Communicate and interact with Human Resource Services, Labor Relations, and the Office
of General Counsel on personnel issues, when and as necessary.
- Oversee faculty adherence to compliance responsibilities and budgetary guidelines
in the context of extramural solicitation of funding.
- Seek and facilitate external giving and resource development for the department/unit.
- Oversee the safety, accessibility, and maintenance of facilities, including labs and
equipment, libraries, meeting rooms, exhibition and performance halls and studios,
seminar rooms, and other unit venues.
- Serve as a central figure available to address questions, concerns, and communications
from students, faculty, staff, parents, guardians, and others with the expectation
of a resolution of issues at the department/area level.
- Serve a critical role in the mediation of conflicts among constituencies within and
beyond the department/area.
At the Dean’s Office Level
- Participate in the strategic planning process of the School/College.
- Consult with the dean about the unit's educational programs and the scheduling of
departmental/area courses and instructor assignments.
- Consult with the dean about student admissions to the department/program.
- Participate in and coordinate with the dean the necessary processes towards program/area
- Prepare annual departmental/area reports describing accomplishments in research and
scholarship, in the educational mission, the university/professional service of the
department/area, fund raising, alumni engagement, and community outreach efforts.
- Present an annual budget for the maintenance and growth of the department/area in
support of the scholarship and teaching mission.
- Plan and administer the unit's budget in consultation with the dean’s office, and
present faculty and staff recruitment requests.
- Consult with Human Resources and Payroll as appropriate on faculty and staff matters
and consult regarding fair employment practices with the Office of Institutional Diversity
- Participate in advancement and alumni initiatives.
- Take up additional responsibilities and assignments in consultation with the dean,
the provost, and other relevant members of the University leadership.
In performing all these duties, the chair/head is expected to seek the advice of faculty
colleagues in a systematic way, and to provide for the conduct of unit affairs in
an orderly fashion through departmental/unit meetings and the appointment of appropriate
committees. The chair/head is expected to seek student advice on matters of concern
to students enrolled in the unit’s programs. In large departments/areas, the chair/head
may be assisted in their tasks by a vice-chair/vice-area head, an administrative assistant/department/area
administrator or other colleagues, and, when desired, by an executive committee chosen
in an appropriate matter. The specific responsibilities of the chair/head should
not, however, be delegated.
It is normal practice that the chair/area head will discuss compensation and perquisites
for the duration and the conclusion of their service term with their dean.