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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 impact.
  • 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 and schools/colleges.
  • 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 accreditation.
  • 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 and Equity.
  • 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.

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