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Department Chairperson Selection Process

Department chair appointments in the College of Arts and Sciences are made by the provost upon the recommendation of the dean and after consultation with the academic department.  Recommendations for department chair appointments must be guided by the department’s academic mission and administrative needs within the broader context of the College’s and University’s respective missions and strategic priorities.  In light of the special importance of the department chair’s role and responsibilities, the process for selecting a department chair should be carried out with care and academic insight, incorporating thorough consultation with faculty members, students, and staff in the department.

Department chairs normally receive twelve-month appointments for terms of four years.  Chairs in the College typically serve no more than two consecutive terms, although chairs may be considered for additional terms with the strong support of their departments and the dean.

The procedures below are guided by the desirability of having clear, consistent, fair, and widely shared expectations across departments in the College, while also allowing flexibility where circumstances warrant it.

1.  Department chair evaluation

An evaluation of the department chair is normally conducted in the fall term of the third year of the chair’s term.  The evaluation is administered by the designated associate dean.  As department chairs normally serve no more than two consecutive four-year terms, chairs will undergo an evaluation in their second term only at the request of the chair or the discretion of the dean.  Evaluations of a department chair may be conducted at other times, with the dean’s approval.

Throughout the chair evaluation process, the confidentiality of individual persons’ input, as well as the confidentiality of discussions between the dean’s office and the department chair, shall be protected.

2.   Three paths of department chair selection:  Reappointment, internal selection of new chair, or national search for new chair

The chair normally shall inform the dean of his or her decision concerning whether to seek another term by April 30 in the third year of the chair’s term.

If the chair decides to seek reappointment for another term, and if the dean agrees that the chair may be considered for reappointment, the procedures in section 2A below shall be followed.

If, in consultation with the department and with the approval of the provost, the dean decides to initiate an internal selection process for the next chair, then that process normally will commence early in the Fall Term of the sitting chair’s final year of appointment, following the procedures set out in section 2B below.

If, in consultation with the department and with the approval of the provost, the dean decides to initiate a national search for the next chair, then the search normally will commence early in the Fall Term of the sitting chair’s final year of appointment.  National searches for department chairs shall follow the procedures set out in section 2C below.

2A.  Chair reappointment

The reappointment process will be initiated at the beginning of the Fall Term of the final year of the chair’s term. The department’s role in the process normally should conclude by November 1. A final decision on the reappointment, approved by the dean and the provost, normally should be made by December 1.

The process for reappointment will be administered by the dean or the designated associate dean. The department may, with the dean’s approval, use an internal committee (e.g., executive committee, advisory committee, or an ad hoc committee) to assist with the management of materials for the reappointment and to convene faculty meetings.

The chair seeking reappointment will submit to the dean’s office and to all tenure-line faculty members in the department an updated CV and a statement concerning future priorities and goals in the department for the coming four years.

The dean or designated associate dean, in consultation with the chair and the department faculty, will develop an instrument through which to collect written feedback on the chair’s performance, responses to the chair’s statement of departmental priorities and goals, and a recommendation regarding whether or not the chair should be reappointed. The instrument shall be distributed to all tenure-line faculty members in the department, as well as to all non-tenure-line faculty members and all staff persons; the instrument also should be made available to all undergraduate and graduate students.  Prior to providing written feedback to the dean’s office, it is advisable that the department’s faculty meet, without the chair being present, to discuss the potential reappointment.

The dean’s office will maintain strict confidentiality in collecting the instrument and compiling its results.

All tenure-line faculty members will have an opportunity to meet individually with the dean or designated associate dean before the dean makes a recommendation regarding reappointment.

After compilation of the results of the instrument, taking care to ensure anonymity, the dean will share the results with the chair.

The dean will make a recommendation to the provost concerning the reappointment, after careful consideration of the department’s input.

2B.  Internal selection of new chair

The process for the internal selection of a faculty member for a new appointment as department chair—to be distinguished both from reappointment of a chair or a national search in which an internal candidate is chosen as chair—normally will be initiated at the beginning of the Fall Term of the final year of the sitting chair’s term.  The department’s role in the process and recommendation normally should be completed by November 1.  A final decision on the appointment, approved by the dean and the provost, normally should be made by December 1.

The process for internal selection of a new chair will be administered by the dean or the designated associate dean.  The dean or associate dean will, after consultation with the department faculty, establish the department committee that will collect materials, share information, and convene faculty meetings in the course of the selection process.  With the approval of the dean, the department may use a standing committee (e.g., executive committee or advisory committee) for this role.  No faculty member who has applied for the chair position and whose application remains active shall participate in the evaluation or discussion of any other applicant’s materials.

The committee will receive nominations for the position of department chair.  Nominees will be contacted by the committee and invited to submit applications.  Before the period for submitting applications closes, the committee will inform the department’s faculty about who has applied for the position.  This information shall be shared in time for other nominations or applications to be received.  Applications for the chair position will include an updated CV, a description of the applicant’s interest in the position, and a statement concerning future priorities and goals in the department for the coming four years.

The department’s tenure-line faculty as a whole, excluding applicants, will interview each applicant before the department votes on a recommendation to the dean.  The department committee may also include non-tenure-line faculty members in the interviews.  The department committee will determine the format of the interviews and conduct the interviews.  The committee shall also establish a process to collect and share the input of non-tenure-line faculty members, students, and staff persons before the department votes on a recommendation.

The final recommendation of the department’s tenure-line faculty to the dean shall be reached through a confidential written ballot that solicits responses as to the acceptability, strengths and weaknesses, and ranking of each of the candidates.  The department committee may also permit non-tenure-line faculty to submit ballots.  The process for arriving at the departmental recommendation may be administered directly by the dean’s office or through the department committee, at the dean’s discretion.  The dean or designated associate dean shall inform the department of the results of the written ballot and any other input from other parties involved in the interview process, maintaining the confidentiality of all persons who participated.

After receiving the department’s recommendation, the dean or designated associate dean will interview each applicant for the position.  All tenure-line faculty members will have an opportunity to meet individually with the dean or designated associate dean before the dean makes a recommendation regarding the position.

The dean will make a recommendation to the provost concerning the appointment, after careful consideration of the department’s input.

2C.  National search for chair

National searches for faculty members to serve as department chairs must conform to the College’s and the University’s policies and procedures for senior faculty searches.  Faculty members recommended for appointment as department chairs through a national search must be eligible for tenured contracts as faculty members at senior rank (either associate professor or professor).

After the provost approves the request for a national search, the dean or designated associate dean shall, after consultation with the department faculty, establish a search committee and name the faculty member to chair the search committee.

The dean or designated associate dean shall work with the search committee chair to establish expectations for the search, including expectations for the sharing of information and for consultation among the search committee, the department, and the dean’s office.

On-campus interviews should, to the extent possible, include everyone who has a substantial interest in the appointment, such as faculty members (tenure-line and non-tenure-line), students, professional staff, deans, and senior academic administrators. On-campus interviews normally should include the same components that would be involved in any tenure-line faculty search, including, but not limited to, a scholarly presentation to the faculty and a teaching demonstration.

If persons currently on the department’s faculty apply for the position, they must recuse themselves from any participation in the search process.  So long as their candidacy remains active, internal candidates should not receive any information about other candidates from the search committee or others in the department.

After on-campus interviews have been completed, the search committee shall make a hiring recommendation to the department concerning the acceptability of each finalist, the strengths and weaknesses of each finalist, and the committee’s preferred ranking of the finalists.  The dean or associate dean shall then seek a hiring recommendation from the department’s tenure-line faculty. The recommendation of the tenure-line faculty shall be reached, after ample opportunity for discussion and deliberation, through a confidential written ballot that solicits responses as to the acceptability, strengths and weaknesses, and ranking of the candidates. The process for arriving at the departmental recommendation may be administered directly by the dean’s office or through the search committee, at the dean’s discretion. The dean or designated associate dean shall also provide ample opportunity for non-tenure-line faculty members, students, and staff to provide input before the department makes its recommendation.

The dean or designated associate dean shall inform the department of the results of the written ballot and any other input from other parties involved in the interview process, maintaining the confidentiality of all persons who participated. The dean shall then arrive at a hiring recommendation and shall seek the provost’s approval for that recommendation.

The dean shall inform the department when a candidate has accepted in writing the offer of the chair position.  The dean’s office and Office of the Provost shall be responsible for writing the appointment letter and completing the new chair’s contract, following usual faculty hiring procedures.

Deviations from the search process described here may be made with the dean’s approval.

3.  Interim or acting chair appointments

An interim chair or acting chair may be appointed for a department, upon the recommendation of the dean and with the approval of the provost.  The term of the appointment normally would not exceed twelve months, although special circumstances could warrant a longer term.

Time permitting, the dean or designated associate dean should provide ample opportunity for input from department faculty members before making a recommendation to the provost concerning the appointment of an interim chair or acting chair.

4.  Chair transition

All operational authority for the department remains with the sitting chair through the final day of his or her appointment (normally June 30).  If there is a gap in time between the sitting chair’s completion of his or her appointment and the beginning of the new chair’s appointment, the dean’s office will exercise operational authority over the department, consulting as appropriate with the past and future chairs, department faculty, staff, and students.

In order to facilitate an incoming chair’s transition, the sitting chair is expected to work with the incoming chair from January 1 of the chair’s final term through the end of the sitting chair’s appointment.  The incoming chair normally would attend meetings of the Council of Chairs and Program Directors (CCPD) during that term and would review with the sitting chair departmental procedures concerning curriculum, faculty reviews and searches, academic advising, course assignments and scheduling, budget, record-keeping, student recruitment, and administrative support staff.  With the dean’s approval, the incoming chair may receive a course release during that term in order to devote sufficient time to his or her orientation to the position.

Recommended unanimously by the CCPD:  April 1, 2009

Approved by the Dean:  April 1, 2009

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