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Department Chairs

Department Chair Handbook


Department Chairs’ Meeting

January 21, 2016

4:30 p.m.

Gorecki 120, CSB




I.                 Update on Chairs’ Formative Evaluation pilot, HLC, hiring


II.               IASystems:

·       Review of helpful reports in IASystems and sharing of strategies for reviewing student surveys efficiently

·       Discussion of how best to communicate with term and probationary faculty (input will go into annual faculty evaluation)

·       Discussion of procedure for discussing surveys with tenured faculty – all faculty? Only those with certain results/themes? Handbook specifies once every three years – all faculty in one year? Rotation?

·       Discussion of how best to communicate that a chair has completed a review of surveys for a tenured colleague, and if needed, results of conversations with tenured faculty to Academic Affairs – quick form simply to signal surveys were read and discussed? Summary of issues?

·       Reminder that chairs can request that Karen read surveys for senior colleagues


III.              Distinction in the major:

·       Discussion of concept of distinction in the major, now that the former Honors thesis is the All College Thesis

·       Establish working group



Nominations for Professor Emerita/Emeritus and Alumna/Alumnus - due by January 22, 2016

The chair’s letter to nominate is similar to a letter for a colleague nominated for the teaching award or promotion to full. Academic Affairs will also review our colleagues’ c.v., and therefore chairs do not need to summarize everything, but highlight those characteristics and contributions that lead to the nomination for the honorary title. Often the chair’s letter provides key information and phrasing used in the commendation read at the May faculty appreciation day.

From the September 2015 Faculty Handbook:                    Professor Emerita/us

This rank may be assigned to associate professors or professors who have limited or terminated their responsibilities as a faculty member for valid reasons (e.g., retirement, illness) after 15 or more years of distinguished and meritorious service to the college [university].

The title professor emerita/us is an honorary one and does not affect salary or fringe benefits that might be involved in any part-time, per-course contract between the individual and the college [university].  Appointees will have their names recorded at this rank in the catalog during the remainder of their lifetimes.                    Professor Alumna/us

The honorary title of professor alumna/us may be assigned to a faculty member with 15 or more years of service at the college who is not given the title professor emerita/us and who voluntarily leaves employment with the college. Appointees will have their names recorded at this rank in the catalog during the remainder of their lifetimes.


 Spring 2016 Chairs/Directors' Meetings:

  • Thursday, January 21, 4:30 p.m. (Gorecki 120)
  • Thursday, February 11, 4:30 p.m. (Quad 170) - meeting cancelled due to provost search schedule
  • Thursday, March 3, 4:30 p.m. (Gorecki 204B)
  • Thursday, March 31, 4:30 p.m. (Quad 170)
  • Thursday, April 28, 4:30 p.m. (Gorecki 204B)

   Suggestions for Departmental Assessment Budget Lines: 

  • National exams
  • Fees for survey instruments
  • Faculty travel to attend or present at an assessment conference or workshop
  • Travel, honorarium, and/or lodging for a consultant or speaker focusing on assessment
  • Books/book groups on assessment
  • Stipends for summer assessment work (using a rubric to evaluate student work in order to assess progress toward learning goals), following FDRC guidelines for amounts
  • Data analysis software
  • Design and print brochures to describe skills students develop in the major
  • Incentives for students to complete surveys or other activities may include refreshments; gift certificates are taxable and other prizes may be taxable depending on the nature and value - consult with business office if you are considering certificates or prizes
  • Funding of interal workshops on pedagogy and assesment of student learning




Talk to your coordinator early and often to discuss the tasks necessary to the success of your area. Ask them how they prefer to work (meetings by appointment, email, phone, etc.). How much lead time is ideal for larger tasks? Are there tasks they actually prefer to do on their own, which you can then delegate to them? Schedule collaborative work time for projects that you need to do together.


The Chairs’ Handbook (see above) gathers together key passages from the Faculty Handbook and incorporates other timelines and advice. It may be helpful to make a timeline with your coordinator to add to the dates given by the Registrar; transcribe big dates to your calendar (FDRC letter due dates, R&T letter dates, reminders to observe faculty, annual events in your department, midterm grade due-dates, etc.).


CC. the coordinator on important emails, and/or have brief “check-in” meetings by phone or in person weekly or as needed. Review the job description of your coordinator so you know what is expected of him or her. This will also help you know which information/deadlines/emails need to be shared. Some things will come directly to you, and only to you, so check the “cc.” and forward, if necessary.

Watch your own stress level, not as something to be afraid of (What have I let myself in for?!), but as information – stress should invite a review of tasks at hand and delegation to coordinator, other faculty, or another office (maybe even the dean’s!). Work ahead of deadlines so you can get the help you need without creating panic for your coordinator/colleagues.



Consider asking a former chair, even from another department, to serve as an unofficial, confidential sounding board. Or form a “chair’s advisory council” within your department to serve as a consultative or representative group. Some matters will not require full departmental discussion, but an advisory group can help ensure that you’ve looked at an issue from multiple perspectives. If you have any questions about which tasks can be delegated, and which must be done by you as official chair / program director, get in touch with the dean’s office.