APS 1026 - Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs

PDF Version

Policy Profile

Policy Title: Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs
APS Number: 1026
Effective: January 1, 20141
Approved by: President Bruce D. Benson
Responsible University Officer: Vice President for Academic Affairs
Responsible Office: Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
Policy Contact: Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
Supersedes: Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs, July 1, 2010 
Last Reviewed/Updated: January 1, 2014
Applies to: University of Colorado Department Chairs

Policy Snapshot

Brief Description: This policy describes the responsibilities, appointment procedures, terms of appointment, evaluation, orientation, and compensation for department chairs.

Reason for Policy: To clarify the roles and responsibilities of department chairs.  

I.  Introduction

This policy describes the responsibilities, appointment procedures, terms of appointment, evaluation, orientation, and compensation for department chairs.  This policy refers only to programs within a single department. 

II.   Policy Statement

  1. Roles and Responsibilities of the Chair

    Regent Law 4.B delegates the development of the working structure of a department to the department in consultation with the appropriate dean. Each college and school has its own mechanism in place to select the department chair and to define the specific roles and responsibilities.  In all instances, it is recognized that the department chair is first and foremost a member of the faculty, a teacher and scholar of the highest order, contributing to the academic and scholarly missions of the department.   As chair, the faculty member is also the designated administrative leader of the department and the leader of the faculty, staff, and students who comprise the department.
    1. Leader of the Department
      1. The chair has the responsibility for providing leadership toward the achievement of the highest possible level of excellence in the teaching, research, and leadership and service activities of the department. The chair is expected to articulate the goals of the department, both within and outside the department, to articulate the department's actions or requests in pursuit of these aims, and to maintain a climate that is collegial, that respects diversity, that treats faculty, staff and learners fairly and that is hospitable to creativity and innovation. The chair has the responsibility to inform the department of the stances and actions of the dean and other administrators that might affect the department.
      2. As the chief administrator for the department the chair is the essential link between the administration and the department in representing departmental views on matters of educational policy and academic ethics, as provided in article 4Laws of the Regents.
      3. The chair is responsible for the recruitment, selection, and evaluation of both the academic and the staff personnel of the department. In consultation with colleagues, and in consonance with the appropriate departmental procedures, the chair recommends appointments, promotion, merit increases, and terminations. The chair has the explicit responsibility to ensure that faculty members are aware of the departmental, college, and campus criteria prescribed for appointment, reappointment, promotion, tenure, and post-tenure review, and to make appraisals and recommendations in accordance with the procedures and principles stated in the Laws of the Regentsand the APS on Standards, Processes and Procedures for Appointment, Reappointment, Tenure and Promotion. The chair also has the explicit responsibility to ensure that adequate faculty mentoring programs are in place and that faculty performance reviews are conducted regularly, in accordance with the procedures and principles stated in the Laws of the Regents and the APS on Faculty Development and Mentoring.

        In the course of recruitment of new appointees or in relation to salary increases or advancement of incumbents, the department chair shall make no formal commitment as to rank and salary until such action has received the final approval of the appropriate administrative office. The chair has the responsibility to be familiar with the state personnel system, and to ensure that staff members are aware of departmental expectations and of state personnel system criteria for appointment, reappointment, job classification, and promotion.
      4. The chair should be receptive to questions, complaints, grievances, and suggestions from members of the department, both academic and staff personnel, and from students. The chair has the responsibility to take appropriate action as required.
  1. Administrator of the Department

    Although special assignments may be added from time to time, and the dean or chancellor may specify additional duties, the chair, as the head administrator of the department, has the following responsibilities: 
      1. Assignment of teaching and other duties within the department consistent with appropriate FTE levels and college/school workload expectations, recognizing that the appropriate mix of teaching, research or creative work, scholarship, professional practice, clinical work and leadership and service may differ from person to person, and from time to time in the career of an individual.
      2. Preparation of the schedule of courses and of times and places for class meetings.
      3. Arrangement and assignment of duty for mentoring of students and for training and supervision of teaching assistants and other student teachers and teacher aides.
      4. Preparation of the budget and administration of the financial affairs of the department, in strict accordance with dollar and FTE allocations and in accord with University rules and procedures.
      5. Recommendation of sabbatical assignments and leaves of absence to the dean, and confirmation that scheduling is consistent with departmental needs.
      6. Prompt reporting of the resignation or death of any member of the department to the dean's office.
      7. Custody and authorized use of University property charged to the department, and assignment of departmental space and facilities to authorized activities in accordance with University policy and campus rules and regulations.
      8. Departmental observance of proper health and safety regulations, in coordination with the campus environmental health and safety officer.
      9. Maintenance of records and faculty and staff personnel files, and preparation of reports in accordance with the University and college procedures.
      10. Reporting on faculty compliance with the "one-sixth" rule (Regent Policy 5.E) or other policies specific to the college or school regarding outside compensation for consulting and other professional activities, in accordance with regent and campus regulations.
      11. Assisting the dean, or appropriate administrators, in ensuring compliance with all existing conflict of interest management plans established by university policy.
      12. Reporting to the dean, or appropriate administrators, - whenever the problem cannot be expeditiously resolved at the departmental level - any failure of an academic or staff member of the department to carry out responsibilities, and recommending  appropriate remedial and/or disciplinary action.

        In the performance of the duties listed above, the chair is expected to seek the advice of departmental faculty colleagues in a systematic way, to provide for the conduct of department affairs in an orderly manner through department meetings and the appointment of appropriate committees, and to keep department members informed of his or her actions in a timely manner. The chair is also expected to seek student advice on matters of concern to students enrolled in the department's programs. In large departments, the chair may be assisted by a vice chair or other colleagues in carrying out his or her responsibilities and, when necessary, by an executive committee chosen in an appropriate manner.

B.  Appointment

  1. Criteria

    The appointment of department chairs should be based on the following criteria:
     
    1. Ability to provide intellectual leadership in the development of departmental faculty and programs;
       
    2. Ability to provide administrative leadership in the effective functioning of the department; and
       
    3. Personal skills to deal effectively with faculty, administrators, and support staff within the college and campus structure.
       
  2. Procedures: Boulder; Colorado Springs; Downtown Denver and the College of Nursing
     
    1. Prior to initiating search and nomination procedures for a department chair, the faculty of the department should meet with the dean of the school or college to discuss the needs and expectations of the department as they relate to the appointment of a new chair, the role of the chair, and the type of search (i.e., internal or external) that will most likely assure that an appropriate candidate is recommended, and to discuss any budgetary considerations related to the search for and appointment of a new chair.
       
    2. A search and nominating process will be carried out by the faculty of the department in accordance with department procedures. The faculty will subsequently submit its recommendation to the dean.
       
    3. If the dean does not concur with the department faculty's recommendation, the dean will meet with the department faculty to discuss his/her reasons for disagreement.
       
    4. The campus chancellor has ultimate appointment authority for all department chairs.
       
    5. It will be the responsibility of the deans and the chancellors to assure that recruitment and appointment procedures for department chairs reflect the University's commitment to equal opportunity and non-discrimination, as articulated in Regent Law (Article 10) and Regent Policy 10.  In order to achieve this objective, efforts should be made to provide experience for women and underrepresented groups consistent with the university’s policies on equal opportunity and non-discrimination that will prepare them for these positions.
       
  3. Procedures: Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, and Public Health
     
    1. Prior to establishing a search committee for a department chair, the dean will meet with the faculty of the affected department to discuss the needs and expectations of the department as they relate to the appointment of a new chair, the role of the chair, and the type of search (i.e., internal or external) that will most likely assure that an appropriate candidate is recommended, and to discuss any budgetary considerations related to the search and appointment of a new chair.
       
    2. A search committee will be appointed by the dean, and will include departmental representation.  At the School of Medicine the search committee will be appointed by the dean, after consultation with the Faculty Officers.  The dean will determine whether the search committee will include departmental representation.
       
    3. The search committee will recommend one or more candidates for the chair to the dean in accordance with school procedures. At appropriate times during the search process, the dean will discuss the candidate pool with the faculty in the department concerned.
       
    4. The campus chancellor will have the ultimate appointment authority for all department chairs.

      It will be the responsibility of the deans and the chancellors to assure that recruitment and appointment procedures for department chairs reflect the University's commitment to equal opportunity and non-discrimination, as articulated in Regent Law (Article 10) and Regent Policy 10.
       
    5. In order to achieve this objective, efforts should be made to provide experience for women and underrepresented groups consistent with the university’s policies on equal opportunity and non-discrimination that will prepare them for these positions.
       
  4. Term of Appointment
     
    1. Consistent with Colorado state law, the position of chair is an at-will administrative position.

C.    Evaluation

  1. All department chairs will undergo regular performance evaluations by the dean of the college or school.   A comprehensive performance evaluation, which includes faculty input, shall be conducted periodically, in accordance with the rules of the college or school.
     
  2. Formal input from other department constituencies (i.e., staff and students and other departments) will be obtained as part of the evaluation process.

D.  Orientation

  1. For all new department chairs, each dean will develop an orientation program within his/her unit. The orientation program should provide information that will enable the department chair to function more effectively and efficiently. Areas that should be addressed in the orientation program include University personnel procedures for faculty and classified staff, especially those relating to appointment, reappointment, tenure, and promotion; the budget and planning processes; development of new degree programs; faculty governance relationships; relationships with other offices such as contracts and grants and with the administrative hierarchy; and other areas that are relevant to the department. In consultation with the departments and the provost, each dean may consider developing other types of programs and vehicles that will enhance the ability of the department chair to provide strong leadership.
     
  2. With the support and participation of the president's office, each campus chancellor will be responsible for assuring that appropriate orientation programs are developed for chairs. The orientation programs may be presented on a campus-wide basis or by college or school. Each campus chancellor also will be responsible for developing formal mechanisms to assure that the program and management information necessary for the department chair to function effectively is provided to the department chair in a timely manner.

E.    Compensation

  1. Within budgetary limitations, the administration will make a commitment to provide a level of support to department chairs (including compensation and other forms of support) that makes the job of department chair more attractive and recognizes the value of strong leadership.
     
  2. A special stipend or other form of compensation will be provided to department chairs to recognize the important leadership role they play. The size of the stipend should be determined in the context of the size of the department, the functions of the chair, and other types of support that will be provided to the chair.

III.  Related Policies, Procedures, Forms, Guidelines and Other Resources

IV.  History

  • The original version of this policy grew out of a 1984 study of department chairs and their roles conducted by University and campus faculty and administrators. It was included as an appendix to the Laws of the Regents, to be used in conjunction with article 4 as a vehicle for articulating the roles and responsibilities of department chairs.
  • Revised – January 1, 2014
  • The term “service” was replaced with the term “leadership and service” effective April 30, 2014 per resolution of the CU Board of Regents.
  • Supersedes - Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs, July 1, 2010 which superseded:  Appendix B of the Laws of the Regents effective 12/20/1984

V.  Key Words

Pay; obligations

  • 1. The term “service” was replaced with the term “leadership and service” effective April 30, 2014 per resolution of the CU Board of Regents.