The department chair is responsible for seeing that the department’s majors, minors, and other students taking departmental offerings, are well-served. This responsibility includes effective and responsible advisement, mediation in disputes or problems regarding students, acknowledging student excellence, and contributing to the College’s recruitment efforts.

A. Clerical tasks

Approving requests. The department chair must approve all requests for independent and directed studies, late course withdrawals and incompletes, transfer (equivalency) credit from other institutions, grade changes, and all requests for waivers from department and program requirements. This responsibility is not simply signatory, but must reflect a careful examination of the justification for each request relative to College policy.

A student may de-register from a course either by dropping or withdrawing. There are College policies and deadlines for both actions. See Faculty Guide to Academic Practices and Policies at Brockport at for information on requirements for withdrawals.

Record keeping. Records regarding students (submitted final course grades, disciplinary actions) must be maintained.

B. Advisement

The chair is responsible for the department’s advisement program. This program should be understood to go beyond the simple registration of students into their appropriate major courses. A department’s advisement responsibility includes concern for each student’s growth and development, and is an important factor in student retention. The registration aspects of advisement may be delegated to a departmental advisement coordinator, but the more general aspects are the responsibility of all faculty. Chairs must assure that advisors for majors are assigned, that faculty are provided with the materials they need for advisement, that faculty are reasonably accessible to students during the course registration period, and are available to students at other times through the regular posting and maintenance of office hours. Chairs should provide counsel or direction for students who seek/need advice beyond their assigned advisor.

C. Mediation

  • The chair works with students and instructors to try to resolve areas of disagreement (e.g., withdrawal requests, grade appeals, criticisms of instructor behavior, student disciplinary actions). Chairs must accommodate requests for in-person meetings with both parties in such actions.
  • The chair, guided by consultation with the course instructor, reviews violations of the student dishonesty policy, or conduct violations, and passes information on to the school dean. According to the most recent policy, this is a review, not an appeal step. The student appeal is handled at the school dean level.

D. Student Awards

Given that student success is the College’s highest priority, chairs should assure that highly successful students are given the recognition they deserve. Each department may have its own unique forms of recognition, but College-wide awards include —

  • Alpha Chi
  • Sigma Xi
  • Departmental Scholar (a departmental-level award, but one available to all departments)
  • School Student Award
  • President’s Citation
  • Adult Student
  • Graduate Student Award

Chairs should assure that their departments engage in timely discussion of students eligible for these awards and make the appropriate nominations and/or designations.

E. Registration

Chairs should implement processes to assure that their departments effectively handle student registration, including major reservation, late registration, and staffing of SOAR sessions.

F. Recruitment and Retention

Although the institution has specific administrative units tasked with recruitment and retention, these efforts are departmental functions as well. Departments can make an important contribution to recruitment and retention by contacting students who have expressed an interest in their department’s programs, attending information sessions, hosting prospective students on campus. Departments should also work toward building constructive relationships that provide students with hands-on experiences in the community (internships, study abroad opportunities, BCEC courses), and that maintain ties with their programs’ alumni. Periodic departmental satisfaction surveys of students and alumni are advised to assist in improving services to these groups.