Department Chair Appointments and Responsibilities

Policy on Chair Appointment and Service

The selection of department leadership is one of the most important personnel actions taken at universities. The College of Letters and Science is committed to supporting and recognizing the service provided by chairs and directors, who devote considerable time and energy to advancing their department. The department and the university benefit greatly when departments nurture leadership and involve faculty members in a variety of departmental activities that help develop administrative talent.



  • All appointments of chairs and directors are annual appointments recommended by the divisional dean and made by the Executive Vice Chancellor.
  • The responsibility for making recommendations for unit leadership resides with the divisional dean and no administrative appointment carries with it guarantees about service beyond one year.
  • Recommendations for initial appointments to the position of chair or director will include consultation with the appropriate faculty by the divisional dean. The department determines whether this consultation occurs with an elected personnel committee, full professors, all ladder faculty, etc. If departments do not have written policies for the decisions about leadership, they are urged to prepare such policies. No policy may preclude the right of all faculty members to present their views directly to the dean.
  • Although it is understood that administrative appointments are made annually, it will be assumed that most chairs will serve for three to six years based on satisfactory performance.
  • All chairs and directors will be evaluated during the winter quarter of the third year of service by the dean.
  • At the time of review during the third year of service as an administrator, chairs and directors will be asked if they wish to be considered for reappointment. The dean will either recommend reappointment or begin the selection process for new leadership.
  • Normally, chairs and directors will serve no more than six years; however, if the relevant faculty supports additional service, the dean may consider additional terms.
  • Decisions about the allocation of resources to departments are not part of the department chair appointment process.



  • Chairs receive a monthly stipend issued over the 12-month appointment period, the amount determined by the divisional dean.



Chairs are responsible for assigning courses. Generally, chairs in consultation with the dean, assign themselves a reduced course load to compensate for administrative responsibility. Outgoing chairs should discuss course assignments with the incoming chair. Most departments have established guidelines to delineate the chair’s teaching responsibilities and to ensure fairness from one administration to the next.


Key Chair Responsibilities (see the Academic Personnel "Red Binder" for complete information):

  • conduct academic planning
  • recruit new faculty
  • assign teaching loads and create a department schedule of classes
  • prepare academic personnel cases/actions
  • represent the department to the higher administration
  • manage departmental resources – financial, space, equipment, etc.
  • request needed resources – financial, space, equipment, TA, etc.
  • communicate news affecting the unit
  • mentor junior faculty
  • foster leadership experience for appropriate faculty
  • cooperate with the Office of Institutional Advancement
  • foster a climate of collegiality and respect
  • ensure a safe, hazard and drug free workplace
  • oversee non-academic staff
  • conduct long-range information technology planning
  • safeguard the welfare of students
  • report the resignation or death of any member of the department, faculty or staff


Evaluation Criteria for Chairs and Directors

  • Planning and organizing. Formulates short- and long-term goals and objectives; evaluates and prioritizes unit needs; anticipates future issues and develops strategies for addressing them; organizes and prioritizes work effectively.
  • Personnel matters. Effective in recruiting, interviewing, selecting, and hiring; thorough, fair, and rigorous in tenure and promotion decisions; effective in process and emphasizes performance in merit reviews; emphasizes faculty and staff development.
  • Diversity. Exerts effort to diversify faculty, staff, and student body and has demonstrated success.
  • Budget management. Reports on budget factually; ties budget requests to programmatic needs; controls costs; monitors and oversees use of funds; allocates resources effectively and in a timely fashion.
  • Communication. Communicates effectively in oral and written form; keeps others informed; is accurate, thorough, and punctual in reports and in responses to requests.
  • Maintaining relationships. Develops and maintains smooth and effective working relationships with other administrators, faculty, and staff; displays personal concern for faculty and staff; supports the faculty and staff as appropriate; encourages and fosters cooperation and institutional responsibility.
  • Emphasizes quality in instructional programming. Concerned with the quality of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and with teaching effectiveness, student recruitment, and advising.
  • Emphasizes quality in research. Facilitates and encourages excellence in research and scholarship; fosters efforts to achieve competitive national ranking.
  • Enrollment management. Sensitive to meeting student needs for open classes; shows concern for recruitment, retention, degree productivity, and placement; adopts comprehensive view of enrollment management.
  • Extradepartmental matters. Involved with college and university matters; is sensitive to advancement of the unit and its public relations; effectively represents the university; persuades others inside and outside the institution to support initiatives.
  • Personal academic accomplishments. Continues research, teaching, and service activities at professional level.


Absence of Chair/Director

If a chair or director needs to be away from the department or program for more than five working days, the dean should be notified (by phone or email) and provided with contact information for the faculty member responsible for department matters during the absence of the chair or director. Someone in the department must also have signature authority to conduct department business during the absence. The chair or director should consult with the dean concerning redistribution of compensation for service during extended period of absence.


Resources for Chairs