Chapter 4: Chair Interaction with Department Faculty


The hiring procedure is described in Chapter 7 of the Chair's Handbook. Chairs should consult the associate provost/academic dean and the Human Resources Office for updates on hiring procedures.

Assistance to New Faculty

Once a hiring decision has been made and the contract has been sent out, it is the department's task to send the new hire any helpful information and materials which could help him/her prepare for the move to campus and to prepare his/her curriculum for the following semester. Among the things to consider:

  • If the faculty position is not a replacement, request office space through the vice provost no later than May 1st.
  • Request a name plate for the office and check the status of furniture - generally the administrative staff in your department or division can help in this process.
  • Ensure textbook orders have been placed for new faculty member's classes.
  • Provide office number and phone number information for the faculty phone directory.
  • Request desktop and academic software through the Committee on Academic Computing or Information Technology Services.
  • Request Banner and email ID through Information Technology Services.
  • Invite the new faculty member to campus several weeks prior to the start of classes.
    • Take him/her to Life Safety (SJU) or Security (CSB) to arrange for college ID's and parking permits.
    • Provide a short tutorial on Outlook, Moodle, and Banner.
    • Provide information about upcoming IT Training offerings.
  • Show new faculty how to access the Faculty Handbook
    • Explain expectations for teaching, scholarship, and service
    • Explain that the Handbook is the contractual agreement for faculty
    • Help the new faculty member locate information in the Handbook
  • Ensure you have contact information for the new faculty member during the summer prior to classes to facilitate contact with them for contract and other matters.
  • Probationary faculty must be given the departmental scholarship guidelines and the department chair needs to clearly explain these expectations

If the new faculty member is scheduled to teach a course in the common curriculum, he/she will need to be informed of the date of any relevant workshops. Course assignments and schedules should be worked out with the new faculty member as soon as possible after the hiring decision has been made.

To help the new faculty member orient to campus life, ensure that someone in the department with a particular talent for advising shares their insights regarding the department's approach to and tools for academic advising. Advisor resources are also available on the Academic Advising web site. Providing an introduction to the Common Curriculum would also be beneficial.


Quality mentoring can make a tremendous difference in the life of a new faculty member and can help the new hire develop to the fullest of his/her potential. All department members can help with mentoring, but clearly the senior members and chair carry most of the responsibility. It may be wise to assign or request a department member as mentor before the new hire begins the school term. The department could prepare written guidelines that offer step-by-step advice and suggestions for assisting both the mentor and the new hire. New faculty need to become familiar with office staff and management procedures, department resources and their location, faculty governance structures, and departmental teaching and advising requirements.

New faculty come to us with passion and zeal, and the challenge for chairs is to foster those attributes with the information and guidance to enable them to succeed.

In addition, LES sponsors orientation sessions for new faculty in the fall and offers additional help (and feedback) sessions throughout the school year. LES organizes an interdisciplinary mentoring program connecting new faculty with an experienced faculty member from another department, for example, someone in history helping mentor someone in the language department.

Learning Enhancement Service (LES)
The LES mission is to enhance student learning by providing opportunities for good teachers to become even better at their craft. We offer a variety of means to this end, but believe that one of the best approaches is to learn from each other. For that reason, LES encourages contributions from staff and all faculty, whether they are part-time or full-time, novice or veteran.

In keeping with the idea that LES is a system of peers helping peers, the program is directed and staffed by active teachers drawn from the faculty. Use of any LES service is entirely voluntary, spurred solely by the individual's desire to improve his or her teaching. As a result, all conversations with members of the LES team are entirely confidential. We are part of any evaluative process.

LES provides specific opportunities for new faculty, which the department chair should encourage new faculty to attend. Having new faculty participate in LES programs is an excellent way to get faculty connected to our institutions and culture.

All faculty should be encouraged to participate in LES - as both a presenter and participant. Chairs can help by identifying faculty who could bring their talents and experiences to our broader community. The chair should recommend possible presenters to the LES director and should also encourage faculty to participate directly.

Reviews of Probationary Faculty

Chairs are required to submit annual reviews of probationary faculty members every academic year, with the exception of the year in which the faculty member goes through third year review and tenure review. A copy of the annual evaluation forms is included here. This form may be supplemented by other materials.

Ordinarily, the probationary period is six full years. This may be shortened by agreement with the Provost at the time of hire. Chairs are expected to observe probationary members at least once each semester sharing a write-up of comments and suggestions after the observation. Where time constraints and class schedules allow, the chair should visit each of the probationary faculty member's departmental courses during every academic year. (This may not be possible in large departments.) A copy of the write-up should go to the faculty member as well as be placed in a centralized department file as part of evidence for the third-year and tenure reviews. An annual evaluation is also expected.

Other members of the Department are expected to observe the classes of probationary faculty members, especially those whose sub-field is the same or close to that of the probationary faculty member. The chair should remind the other members of the department to make these class visits.

Third Year Review

Probationary faculty need guidance in putting together their review files. Each year, the department chair should instruct the probationary faculty about documentation of activities and expectations for teaching service, and scholarship. As the probationary faculty member puts together the actual file, the chair or another member of the department should instruct the probationary faculty member in the presentation, organization, and content of the file. Sometimes, having a faculty member show a successful file to the probationary faculty as an example can be helpful.

Near the end of the spring semester of the preceding year or early to mid-fall semester of the academic year in which a probationary faculty member is to undergo his/her third year review, the chair calls a department meeting of tenured members to gather a collective review of the probationary member(s). In accordance with the Faculty Handbook, "the department chair should arrange with the candidate a date for making appropriate materials available for review by department members." Typically, file materials will include:

  • Course syllabi
  • Vita
  • Summaries of student evaluations for each course taught
  • Self-assessment memo addressing the criteria in Section 2.5 of the Faculty Handbook
  • Evidence of scholarly/creative work
  • Plan of professional development
  • Other supporting evidence

The purpose of the department meeting is to share insights regarding the probationary faculty member and provide the chair with input regarding the department's evaluation of the probationary faculty member. The chair sends a letter to the Rank and Tenure Committee, summarizing his/her and the department evaluation. A copy of this letter should be provided to the probationary faculty member. Where the chair's evaluation differs from that of the majority of the department, this should be explained in the chair's letter. Each tenured member is also required to complete an individual evaluation form provided by Rank and Tenure. Non-tenured faculty may complete such a form if they wish.

Tenure Review/Promotion

The process for departmental and chair evaluation of probationary faculty members undergoing tenure review is similar to the third year review process. A department evaluation discussion is held based on the timing determined by the department chair. Departments can decide whether or not to include non-tenured members in this discussion. Again, the probationary faculty member should submit a file to the department for evaluation leading to possible tenure and/or promotion in accordance with a timetable set by the chair that allows plenty of time for review and reflection. The file submitted to the department need not be in final form, but it should contain all information essential to departmental discussions of the candidate. The final version of the file is due in September of the year designated for tenure review. The chair and the tenured department members must send evaluation letters to the Committee on Rank and Tenure. These evaluations are generally completed by mid-September. The chair's letter of evaluation will be shared with the candidate (for both third year review and tenure review). [See Handbook, sections 2.6.1;; and]

Adjunct and Term-Contract Faculty

Depending on qualifications, a faculty member may hold a term appointment (on either a part-time or full-time basis) and be assigned a special rank (e.g. Adjunct Assistant Professor). The chair or some other member of the department should observe the classes of adjunct and term contract faculty and provide oral and written feedback. This is valuable because of the possibility that these faculty members may become eligible later for a tenure-track position in the department, and because some evaluation of a term-contract appointment is essential to the individual's future job prospects. The department may wish to include adjunct and term contract faculty in department meetings, especially when discussing goals, objectives, and processes within the department.

While not required, annual reviews for adjunct full-time appointments may be beneficial for their professional development. Chairs are required to submit annual reviews for full-time term appointments every academic year. A copy of the annual evaluation form is included in here. This form may be supplemented by other materials.

Course Assignments

The chair and department members set up a schedule for offering courses yearly or in alternate years and semesters. Department majors and minors must be served through regular, stable offering of required courses. Chairs have to perform the sometimes difficult task of balancing the preferences and interests of individual department members with the needs of the departmental curriculum and of the department's contribution to the Common Curriculum. Chairs should make a concerted effort to ensure that all departmental courses listed in the course catalogue are taught at least once every two years; if there is no realistic prospect of offering a course on a regular basis it should be removed from the catalogue.

See Chapter 10 regarding Chair Interaction with the Director of the Common Curriculum. The chair is responsible for determining a fair method of assigning Common Curriculum responsibilities within the department. All members of the department, both tenured and untenured, are expected to share in the department's contribution to the Common Curriculum.

Letters of Support: Sabbaticals and Study Abroad

Department chairs are required to provide letters of support when members of their department request sabbaticals, FDRC grants and apply to lead study abroad programs. Those letters require careful analysis of the merits of the faculty member's proposal as well as planning as to how the department's staffing needs will be best met during the faculty member's absence. Proactive chairs should ask department faculty about their future plans and encourage eligible and interested faculty to apply. Staffing needs must be taken seriously; balancing the institutions' and department's needs in a manner that best serves our overall student body.

Service Learning

Certain faculty may be interested in integrating service learning activities into their courses. In such cases, chairs should encourage and direct faculty to the appropriate service learning support group. The Service Learning Program supports faculty members in these endeavors. According to their website, "service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community or public service with intentional reflection and critical thinking. The Liemandt Family Service-Learning Program engages students in working towards positive, sustainable change in the community, while enhancing their own education. These experiences or projects are initiated by faculty who integrate this innovative pedagogy into one or more of their courses. Service-learning experiences can include, but are not limited to, developing or enhancing new after-school programs for school age children, advocating for a homeless shelter or being a companion to the elderly. Before a course begins, the service-learning staff assists faculty in developing appropriate service experiences and identifying key community partners.

Throughout the semester, the service-learning staff provides continuing support to faculty and students by managing many of the logistical aspects of the projects, by maintaining open lines of communication between the faculty, students and community partners and by assisting students in reflecting upon their work within the community."

Faculty in the department who are interested in incorporating service learning into course curriculum should be encouraged to contact staff members in this program for support and assistance.

Students are frequently asking to participate in internships. It is best for the department to have an internship policy that specifically details requirements to participate in an internship for departmental credit and expectations for successful completion of an internship. The department should have a conversation about requirements and expectations and all departmental should know the department's policies.

Problems with Department Faculty Members

When conflicts arise within the department, they should be brought first to the chair, who should make a good faith effort to resolve them without recourse to outside authorities. If/when problems occur which cannot be handled within or by the department, or if the chair is a party to the unresolved conflict, the chair should consult first with the academic dean.

If a faculty member wants to initiate a formal grievance, details are in the Faculty Handbook, Section 4.1.

Last updated: September 2013