Selection, Appointment, and Review of Department Chairs and Equivalent Unit Directors Policy Revision (replacing AS Policy #S87-145)

Reference Number: S00-145
Senate Approval Date: Saturday, January 01, 2000


Policy on Selection, Appointment, and Review of Department Chairs

and Equivalent Unit Directors


#S00-145 (formerly #S87-145)


At its meeting of April 4, 2000, the Academic Senate approved the following revised policy on selection, appointment and review of department chairs and equivalent unit directors.

Principle and Definition.

Administration and leadership of each academic department or equivalent unit (hereafter "department") are provided by a department chair or equivalent unit/program director (hereafter "chair") who is a tenured/tenure-track faculty member of the department. The chair also serves as representative and advocate for the department within the college, University, community and profession. The chair shall normally be selected internally by the faculty of the department to carry out the assigned duties and responsibilities. Section 20.32 of Article 20 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that department chairs shall be appointed by the University President; this policy further recommends that chair’s appointment shall be made by the University President or his/her designee in Academic Affairs upon the recommendation of the department faculty and college dean.

For purposes of selection, appointment, and review of chairs, the term "faculty" includes tenured and tenure-track faculty, and instructors of record on a yearly contract excluding temporary faculty who are also graduate students in the department. Departments shall tabulate votes of temporary faculty on a pro-rated basis in proportion to the faculty member’s time-base appointment in the semester in which the review or selection process is initiated.

Term of Office.

Department chairs will be appointed for a three-year term beginning in the fall semester. There shall be an informal mid-appointment performance review in the second year to provide the chair with recommendations for his/her professional development in department management. (See the section on "Chair’s Mid-appointment Review.") Department chairs may be re-appointed to additional terms subsequent to the normal nomination and faculty ballot process every three years.

Duties and Responsibilities.

The department chair is the person most fully responsible for leading, administering, and representing the department. The department chair’s duties and responsibilities include but are not limited to the following four categories:

A. Academic Programs



To assume the leadership in the development and direction of quality academic programs.


To work with the department faculty in academic program planning and review, and curriculum development and revision.


To prepare the class schedule in consultation with the department faculty or appropriate department committee.


B. Students



To supervise advising, provide information, sign documents and petitions, and otherwise facilitate resolution of administrative difficulties students may encounter.


To promote department activities (programs, competitions, awards, professional organizations, clubs) and recruit potential majors/minors.


To be available to receive students' comments and suggestions about courses, instructors, and programs.


To attempt resolution of complaints, differences, or grievances between students and faculty.


C. Faculty



To encourage collegial and full participation of all members of the department in recognition that governance of departments is a joint and cooperative endeavor.


To participate in the faculty personnel processes for hiring, retention, tenure, and promotion with the tenured members of the department, and other faculty matters within existing trustee policy, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and University and college policies.


To make an independent recommendation regarding hiring, retention, tenure and promotion after reviewing recommendations from the department's elected HRT/P committee.


To perform the evaluation and recommend the appointment or reappointment of temporary faculty either after receiving department peer review committee recommendation or upon delegation by the voting members of the department in accordance with Academic Senate policy and the Collective Bargaining Agreement.


To provide leadership at the department level in the implementation of the University's affirmative action policy.


To promote the professional development of the faculty.


To establish, after consultation with the faculty, appropriate departmental committees.


D. Administrative Responsibilities



To convey pertinent information to, from and within the department. To present issues which have potential impact on the department. To invite and respond to comments and suggestions of faculty and staff.


To represent the department within the college, University, community, and profession.


To work with the college dean on management of resources, including the establishment of enrollment targets, allocation of faculty positions, and all budget matters; to organize and supervise department expenditures; to monitor departmental compliance with university regulations and deadlines.


To hire and supervise department staff.


A department may establish additional charges to the chair’s duties and responsibilities specific to departmental needs.

Selection of Chairs.

The chair is appointed by the University President or the presidential designee in Academic Affairs upon the recommendation of the department and the appropriate dean. The nomination and selection process shall be as follows:


Nomination & Ballot => Dean’s Report => Presidential (or Designee’s) Decision

A. Nomination and Ballot

. No later than the third week in the spring semester of the third year, the Office of Academic Affairs shall inform, via the office of the college dean, the incumbent department chair of the expiration of the chair’s term. The incumbent shall call a department meeting to establish an ad hoc faculty committee for the selection of chair (hereafter "Committee") to take charge of the chair’s selection and balloting process. All department faculty shall be notified of this meeting. Upon recommendation of the department and in consultation with the college dean, faculty from a related discipline may serve on the Committee if there is insufficient faculty within the department. Excluding those faculty who are in the early retirement program, and those tenure-track (probationary) faculty whose employment will be terminated, all tenured and tenure-track faculty can be nominated or make self-nomination for consideration to become the chair.

Department procedures shall include a provision for pro-rated voting by secret ballot. The results of this ballot, in a form determined by the department faculty, including a record of those who voted, will be forwarded to the dean as part of the report. The results may include numerical counts to the nearest number to protect the confidentiality of part-time faculty votes.

The Committee shall schedule a meeting between the chair-elect and the department faculty on the duties and responsibilities of the chair-elect in departmental management. The Committee shall report the result of the selection process make a recommendation to the dean, including the name of the chair-elect, by the sixth week of the spring semester.

B. Dean’s Report and President’s Decision.

When the dean supports the department recommendation, he/she may meet with the chair-elect and make a recommendation for appointment to the University President via the Office of Academic Affairs by the ninth week of the semester. The University President or the presidential designee appoints the chair in consultation with the Office of Academic Affairs by the twelfth week. At the conclusion of the process, the departmental committee report and the college dean’s recommendation shall be placed in the personnel action file in Faculty Records.

If the dean does not support the departmental recommendation, the dean shall meet with the department faculty to discuss its recommendation and the dean’s objection. After this meeting, the department faculty and the college dean shall reach a mutual agreement either 1) to process the original departmental recommendation, or 2) to establish another departmental nomination and faculty ballot process for an alternative recommendation. If the disagreement persists, the dean shall forward the department's recommendation and his/her statement of non-support to the University President via the Office of Academic Affairs. It will be the responsibility of the University President or the presidential designee to work with the dean and the department in order to obtain a mutually acceptable solution.

If the University President or his/her designee disagrees with the recommendation of both the department and the dean, he/she shall meet with the department faculty and the dean to discuss his/her objection. If the disagreement cannot be resolved, the department will re-institute the selection procedure in order to provide an alternative recommendation.

When a new chair is appointed, the incumbent chair shall facilitate the chair-elect’s smooth transition in departmental management.

Chair’s Mid-appointment Review.

The purpose of the review is to provide department faculty the opportunity to assess the performance of the chair at mid-term, so that the department faculty may give the chair recommendations for development and improvement. This review, in a format to be established by the department, shall be based on the aforementioned four categories of chair’s "duties and responsibilities" and other stated department criteria.

By no later than the third week of the spring semester in the second year of the chair’ term, the department faculty shall meet to elect a Chair Review Committee of at least three members. The Chair Review Committee will solicit information and recommendations from all departmental faculty, staff, the chair, and others as deemed appropriate. The data may include evaluations by individual faculty and staff, the chair's self-evaluation, and any other pertinent information collected during the review. The committee will summarize these data and any other pertinent information. The Chair Review Committee will give the chair and the department faculty a copy of the summary report, and subsequently will call a department meeting to discuss the report and its recommendation with the chair and the department faculty prior to submitting the report to the dean and the University President by no later than the seventh week of the spring semester.

Special Review

. A special review of a chair is a formal process available to the department faculty, when the chair fails to agree with the informal approach or address deficiencies highlighted in the mid-term review to bring improvement in his/her performance.

Upon recommendation to the dean by a majority of the faculty in a department with pro-rating of temporary faculty votes, and after a full department meeting, the Office of Academic Affairs, in consultation with the University President, may initiate a special review of the chair. The review criteria should follow the aforementioned four categories of duties and responsibilities and/or other specific departmental criteria. Academic Affairs or its designee shall supervise this special review. The department faculty will decide either: 1) to identify area(s) in which the incumbent chair must agree to improve his/her performance; or 2) to recommend removal of the incumbent chair by a secret faculty ballot process if there is a two-thirds majority supporting such an action. The department, at any time, may withdraw the request for a special review. In the case of removal, a departmental ad hoc faculty committee will commence, at the conclusion of the special review, the chair’s selection process to select a new chair. (See section "Selection of Chairs.")

Acting Chairs.

In the event that it is necessary to appoint an acting chair, he/she shall be appointed by the University President or his/her designee in the Office of Academic Affairs, upon recommendation by the faculty of the department and the college dean. The acting chair can be appointed internally (within the department) or externally (outside the department).

The position of acting chair has all the duties and responsibilities of a department chair.

Acting chairs are temporary appointments. Acting chairs will not serve more than two consecutive semesters, except in very unusual circumstances in which the appointment as acting chair could be extended for a maximum of two additional semesters. The normal selection process for a department chair shall begin as soon as possible after the appointment of an acting chair. (See section "Selection of Chairs.")

An acting chair shall be appointed as a department chair only if he/she is tenured or tenure-track faculty in the department and is recommended by the department at the conclusion of the normal selection procedures for a department chair. Time served as an acting chair does not count as part of the three-year term of a department chair.

External Selection of a Chair.

A department may request an external search for a chair’s appointment if there are available resources and when there is agreement among the department faculty and the college dean concerning department management and governance. The president, in consultation with the department faculty and college dean, may appoint an acting chair from a related discipline within the university, as stipulated in the preceding section on "Acting Chairs."

Subject to approval of the University President, the Office of Academic Affairs and the college dean, a department may conduct a formal search process, as part of the tenure-track faculty recruitment, for an external candidate for a department chair. The process must be in compliance with the university policy on tenure-track faculty hiring.

During the fourth semester of appointment, there shall be an internal mid-term performance review of the externally recruited department chair. (See section "Chair’s Mid-appointment Review.") At the third year of appointment, there shall be the normal chair’s selection process as stipulated in the aforementioned section on "Selection of Chairs."


The normal process for the selection and appointment of a department chair and the mid-term review shall be conducted as follows:

A. Selection of Chair: Spring Semester in the third year.


3rd week

1. Office of Academic Affairs to notify department on Chair selection


2. Department meeting to establish ad hoc committee:


a. To nominate faculty for chair


b. To conduct faculty secret ballot


c. To call a meeting between faculty and chair-elect


d. To prepare departmental recommendation to college dean

6th week

Departmental recommendation to college dean

9th week

College dean’s report to University President or


1. Resolution of disagreement, if applicable

12th week

Presidential decision if departmental recommendation is accepted by dean and University President, or


1. Resolution of disagreement, if applicable


B. Mid-term Review: Spring semester in the second year


3rd week

Department meeting to establish a chair review committee


1. To conduct a mid-term review of chair for professional development


2. To call a meeting to discuss the summary of the review

7th week

Review summary to the college dean and University President