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Roles & Responsibilities of Department Chairs & Center Directors Policy

Approved by Dean's Cabinet on March 10, 2010
Approved by President's Cabinet on April 20, 2010
Approved by Executive Council on August 12, 2014

For questions pertaining to this approved policy, please contact the office of: Vice President of Academic Affairs at 518-564-2195.

Policy Number Owner
7005.2 Provost/ VP of Academic Affairs & Human Resource Services

Revision History:

Date Version Change Ref Section
4/20/2010 1.0 New Document  
8/12/2014 2.0 Major Revisions  
10/14/2015 2.1 Minor Revisions  
1/4/2017 2.2 Minor Revisions  

Statement of Policy

The Policies of the Board of Trustees provide that chairpersons in consultation with the members of their departments are responsible to the President of the college through the Faculty Dean and Provost\VPAA for the supervision of the department personnel and programs.  They have such powers, duties and responsibilities as may be assigned by the President of the college.  Chairpersons have a dual role as teacher and administrator. They are accountable for the implementation of the college and faculty policies and procedures within the department and for the implementation of department policies and procedures consistent with those of the college and the appropriate faculty.  Chairpersons are responsible for and supervise the instructional program of the departments within the context of the mission and goals of the college and of the appropriate faculty.  They serve as spokespersons for the institutional needs of the college and the faculty to the members of the department and for the department needs to the Dean and other appropriate administrators of the college. The role of the department chairperson is one of strong, responsible academic leadership.

  1. To ensure strong academic leadership, departments should establish procedures which will assure maximum opportunity to evaluate and weigh the leadership capabilities of individual candidates for the position of department chairperson.
  2. To ensure responsible leadership, departments must (1) keep avenues of communication with the chairperson open at all times; (2) provide faculty feedback to the chairperson when desired responsibility is not being demonstrated; and (3) seek a change in departmental leadership when the chairperson is demonstratively not functioning in assigned tasks.
  3. The Dean shall meet with each chairperson at least once a year to evaluate his or her performance as chairperson.
  4. The teaching load of the chairperson shall depend upon the nature and size of the department.  The Dean and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs shall determine reductions in load on the basis of such considerations as the number of faculty in the department, number of majors, total enrollment, and the complexity of department activities, facilities, and equipment.
  5. The responsibilities of the department chairpersons continue during the summer.  Chairpersons shall be permitted to teach courses during the summer, subject to the earnings limitation rules.
  6. The many responsibilities of chairpersons make it difficult for them to maintain a full program of research or creative activity. When a chairperson has completed a full term in office:
    1. The Dean should consider a variety of ways to assist the chair to resume full scholarly or creative activity.
    2. Departments and Deans should give special consideration to requests of such persons for sabbaticals and other leaves.

The responsibilities of a chairperson cover six major areas (to include SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury, if applicable): (a) Academic Planning, (b) Personnel, (c) Students, (d) Budget, (e) Space and Equipment, and (f) General Operations.  (Note:  The Library Faculty Chair has a different set of responsibilities.)

A.    Academic Planning

  1. Ensures that clear goals and objectives, consistent with those of the college and the appropriate faculty, are established by the department or center; that department/center programs are designed to achieve these ends; and that goals, objectives and programs are periodically evaluated to guarantee that they are suited to the needs of students, both majors and non-majors.
  2. Supervises the development and periodic update of a comprehensive and coherent department/center curriculum.
  3. Supervises and coordinates the development, revision and evaluation of courses, sequences, and programs for the academic year and the summer and winter programs.
  4. Recommends to the appropriate Dean the schedule of courses for the academic year and the summer and winter sessions.
  5. Coordinates assessment of student learning outcomes (including use of results and preparation of associated reports) and ensures that department meets requirements of external reviews and accrediting agencies (when relevant).

B.    Personnel

  1. Coordinates department/center recruitment of new full-time and part-time faculty and oversees the orientation of new faculty.
  2. Initiates appropriate paperwork regarding departmental personnel matters, i.e. CP and UP-8 forms.
  3. Supervises the department/center affirmative action program and ensures that it is consistent with that of the college.
  4. Evaluates the teaching effectiveness, scholarship, research, and college and community service of individual faculty members; initiates and oversees the evaluation process of the departmental/center evaluation group; and makes personal recommendations to the Dean for each member of the department/center in accordance with the Performance Reviews of Academic Employees, Policies and Procedures (Agreement between SUNY Plattsburgh and UUP, Inc.).
  5. Fosters the scholarly growth, research, creative activities, and teaching effectiveness of department/center members.
  6. Ensures that the workload within the department/center is equitably distributed among its members and suited to their individual talents and accomplishments, and to the needs of its approved programs.
  7. Assigns courses for the academic year and summer and winter sessions after consultation with members of the department/center and with the concurrence of the Dean.
  8. Supervises clerical and non-teaching personnel and student and graduate assistants assigned to the department/center by the Dean.
  9. Counsels and advises faculty.
  10. Supervises faculty to ensure that teaching and institutional obligations are met.
  11. Recommends to the Dean tuition waivers for faculty and graduate assistants.
  12. Ensures that appropriate class coverage is arranged for absences from class and signs monthly leave records for departmental faculty and staff

C.    Students

  1. Supervises the department/center advisement program; assigns advisor for majors; provides faculty with advisement materials; counsels students who seek advice beyond the advisor.
  2. Ensures that students with any difficulties are referred to the appropriate office on campus for academic problems, adjustment problems, attendance problems, behavioral issues, disability/accommodation issues, health-related issues, language problems, legal problems, psychological problems, roommate problems, substance abuse suspected, alleged sexual abuse, alleged harassment, alleged discrimination, or other problems.
  3. Ensures that independent study, honors, and thesis programs within the department/center are consistent with college and faculty policies and directives.
  4. Maintains department/center student records.
  5. Recommends to the Dean deviations from program/degree requirements.
  6. Recommends to the Dean, consistent with college or faculty policies or directives, requests for independent studies, undergraduate enrollment in graduate courses, permission to take courses at other institutions and credit overloads for students.
  7. Approves requests for change of major and enrollment in closed courses.  Signs report of incomplete work and course withdrawal forms and participates in academic progress decisions.
  8. Receives student grievances and manages the student grievance process in accordance with standard procedures.
  9. Assists in student recruitment, orientation and registration.

D.    Budget (Actual practice may vary by division)

  1. Formulates, after consultation with the department/center, long-range department/center budget projections, which indicate how resources will be allocated to achieve department goals and objectives.
  2. Allocates and administers the departmental/center budget and authorizes valid expenditures within this budget.
  3. Maintains current records on department/center expenditures.
  4. Disseminates full information on budget and expenditures to members of the department/center.

E.    Space and Equipment

  1. Maintains a current inventory of department/center equipment.
  2. Prepares long-range projections of department/center space and equipment needs.
  3. Coordinates the allocation and utilization of space and equipment assigned to the department/center.
  4. Submits to the Dean requests for repairs, maintenance, and physical plant improvements.
  5. Supervises the security of department/center equipment and supplies.

F.    General Operations

  1. Ensures that department/center reports are completed.
  2. Represents the department/center to the general public and communicates newsworthy department or individual faculty activities to the Dean for transmission to the Office of Institutional Advancement.
  3. Appoints appropriate department/center committees; regularly schedules, prepares agenda for, and chairs department/center meetings; and coordinates department/center activities.
  4. Advises the Dean and communicates department/center opinions and needs to the Dean; transmits faculty and College policies, directives and opinions to the department/center; and fosters inter-center/departmental communication.
  5. Attends faculty chairpersons meetings called by the Dean and division chairperson meetings called by the Provost.
  6. Assumes such other responsibilities or duties as the President may assign.

Selection of the Chairperson

The Trustees place final responsibility for designating chairpersons in the Office of the President.  The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, after consultation with the appropriate Dean, recommends to the President the person to be appointed.  For effective operation, consultation between the Dean and the department is essential before either takes action.  Faculty holding qualified academic rank (Lecturer, Visiting, Adjunct), non-tenured faculty, and professionals are not eligible to serve as a department chair or center director. In Teacher Education, Unit Coordinators are treated as chairs. In making his/her designations, the President requires the Dean and department to have followed these procedural steps:

  1. The department shall elect at a department meeting a nominating committee.
  2. The committee shall canvass the department for nominations. It shall then meet with the Dean to present the names of all those who were nominated by their colleagues and who were willing to serve. The Dean may approve or disapprove of any names on the slate. There shall be at least two nominations for each election unless the Dean and a majority of the department agree to waive this requirement.
  3. The committee shall present to the department, prior to the meeting at which the election shall take place, a slate of the acceptable candidates resulting from the consultation with the Dean. The department shall elect its chairperson by majority vote and secret ballot from among those mutually acceptable nominations.
  4. The department shall notify the Dean of the name of the person elected. The Dean shall forward the name to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, who shall submit it to the President for approval.
  5. Subsequent to his or her approval, the President shall designate in writing the elected person for an appointment of up to three years. Chairpersons may be elected for additional terms.
  6. Should the Dean and the department fail to agree on acceptable candidates, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, after consultation with the Dean and the department, shall recommend a candidate to the President.  Should the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, after said consultation, determine that the department contained no suitable candidate, he or she may recommend one of the following options to the President: an appointment from outside the department, an external search for a chairperson, or management of the department by the Dean in receivership until department elections are held again.  When a chairperson is appointed from outside the department, the term will be a period up to three years.

Removal of the Chairperson

Under the Policies of the Board of Trustees, the President may relieve a designee of his/her duties as chairperson, with notification to the Chancellor. If a majority of a department wishes to have its chairperson removed, it may by majority vote and secret ballot, request a meeting with the Dean. The Dean, following consultation with the department and the chairperson, may make a recommendation through the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and to the President to remove the chairperson from office.

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