The department chairperson serves in two roles. On one hand s/he is an academic administrator; on the other, a regular faculty member engaged in teaching and scholarship.

This is a challenging situation, as the department chair must balance responsibilities to students, faculty, and the institution. The department chair’s leadership role may be equally confusing. Chairs are expected by their faculty to lead the department in its growth and development, while serving the department members’ needs and wishes. They are regarded by the institution as collaborative members of its leadership team, with the responsibility of helping implement institutional objectives.

The chairperson’s responsibilities go hand in hand with the authority necessary for carrying out these responsibilities. For example, department chairs —

  • represent the department in discussions/negotiations with College Administration.
  • make personnel recommendations (in addition to those made by departmental personnel committees) in regard to initial appointment, re-appointment, tenure, promotion, and DSI.
  • determine the course schedule for departmental offerings, and the teaching schedule for each individual member of the department’s faculty.
  • organize and oversee departmental assessment of student learning outcomes and report on these activities as required.
  • recruit, hire, supervise, and evaluate associate faculty (adjuncts) when full-time faculty cannot meet the staffing demands of the curriculum and course schedule.
  • develop a budget for, and approve the distribution of departmental OTPS allocations.
  • approve (or disapprove) all student requests for late withdrawals and incompletes.
  • adjudicate grade disputes (at the departmental level) between student and instructorand review student academic dishonesty charges by instructors.
  • assign governance responsibilities to faculty members based on volunteers, appointment or through procedures established by the department’s governance document.
  • evaluate faculty performance as part of each faculty member’s Annual Report.
  • determine the performance program for, and annually evaluate, departmental staff.


In short, both the responsibility and authority of department chairs extends to all departmental issues regarding resources and personnel. This handbook is intended as a guide for dealing with these issues, providing descriptions of, and insights into, the responsibilities and authority vested in the position of department chair.

Chairs are responsible for the daily operations of their department, its academic programs, the management of its resources, and the supervision of its personnel. The chair also serves as role model, department spokesperson, and representative of the department in its dealings with the dean and other College administrators. The responsibilities of the department chair fall roughly into the following areas of activity:

  1. Leadership
  2. Academic Planning
  3. Record Keeping
  4. Communication Reporting and Outreach
  5. Personnel
  6. Students
  7. Budget
  8. Space and Equipment.Assessment and Accreditation