The Academic Department Heads are appointed by the President, usually for three-year terms.  All matters related to the course offerings, the policies, and the welfare of the department are under the direction of the Department Head. 

The Department Head makes recommendations to the Provost and the President concerning remuneration and terms of appointment for members of the department staff.  He/She is responsible for preparing an annual budget in consultation with other members of the department.  The budget is submitted to the Provost for consideration in preparation of the College budget.  The Department Head is also responsible for the authorization of expenditures from budgeted departmental funds.

The Program Chairs are appointed by the Provost, usually for three-year terms, after considering recommendations from members of the relevant advisory committee.  With the advice of the advisory committee, the Chair is responsible for all matters related to the course offerings, the policies, and the welfare of the program including remuneration and terms of appointment for interdisciplinary members of the program; the preparation of an annual budget; and the authorization of expenditures from budgeted funds.

Prior to the appointment or reappointment of a Department Head or Program Chair, the Provost asks each member of the department to name the person he/she considers best qualified to serve as Head, not excluding himself/herself, and to give reasons for the choice.  The information so gathered is considered by the Promotion, Tenure, and Review Committee in making recommendations to the President.

The Conveners are appointed by the Provost for each of the academic divisions.  The Director of the Engineering Division serves as the Convener for the engineering division.  The Conveners serve as the agenda committee for Department Head meetings and as a consultative group for the Provost.  The Conveners may call a meeting of their division at the request of the Provost, at their discretion, or at the request of two or more Department Heads within the division.

Department Head and Program Chair Responsibilities

The Department Head’s responsibilities fall into two broad areas.  The first is functional and is best summarized by a list of responsibilities, highlighted below.  The second is the manner in which the Department Head carries out his/her responsibilities; such characteristics are summarized under “Leadership Qualities.”

Functional Responsibilities
The functional responsibilities listed below summarize the major activities of the Department Head.  For convenience, these responsibilities are divided into four categories:  management, staff, program and students, and budget and resources.


  1. The Department Head is responsible for monitoring all operations and activities within the department.  He/She administers the day to day operations of the department, organizes and conducts department meetings, appoints department committees, prepares reports (sometimes with the help and concurrence of other departmental faculty) to be sent to the Provost or Faculty committees (mission statements, etc.), and makes teaching and advising assignments.
  1. The Department Head seeks to create an atmosphere in which a consensus about departmental issues is reached.  As a spokesperson for the department, he/she carries departmental views to the administration and, as the situation requires, argues and advocates the departmental case.
  2. The Department Head is responsible for enhancing communications within the department, between the department and other departments, between the department and the administration, and between the department and other College constituencies.


  1. One of the most important responsibilities of the Department Head is the recruitment of new faculty.  He/She carries out this task in accordance with College rules and regulations and in accordance with departmental and College program considerations.  The Department Head, who often chairs the search committee, insures that the department is involved in the selection process to the maximum extent possible.
  2. The Department Head evaluates the teaching, scholarship, and service of tenured and untenured departmental faculty as part of periodic reviews.  When possible, the Department Head helps provide the necessary resources (time, equipment, money, etc.) for the accomplishment of the professional development of departmental faculty members.
  3. The Department Head provides untenured faculty with guidance on how best to grow in the discipline and fulfill the expectations of the College.
  4. The Department Head conducts the various review processes within the department by writing necessary reports, helping candidates compile self‑evaluations, overseeing the peer observation process, and conducting departmental meetings.  These activities should be thorough, detailed, and accurate and should be concluded within the deadlines set by the Provost.
  5. The Department Head supervises departmental faculty and clerical and technical staff.  When required by the Provost, he/she provides written evaluations and makes salary recommendations which, where appropriate, are shared with the individual concerned.  The Department Head communicates to all departmental faculty and staff the goals of the College and the department and aids them in establishing compatible professional objectives.
  6. As the appointed leader of the department, the Department Head has the responsibility of seeing that intradepartmental problems between or among faculty, staff, and students are resolved.

Program and Students

  1. The Department Head is aware of trends and developments in the discipline and encourages innovative teaching and curricular development consistent with the departmental and College mission.
  2. The Department Head creates a forum within which departmental faculty discuss and implement appropriate changes in their curriculum.  He/She sees that this is done in the context of both departmental and College goals.  He/She communicates departmental decisions to the appropriate College personnel or committee (e.g., Provost, Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee, Registrar).
  3. The Department Head deals with student concerns, assisting new majors in identifying advisors, providing guidance, helping to resolve problems, providing for contact between faculty and students through department occasions, and generally making himself/herself accessible.

Budget and Resources

  1. The Department Head submits a budget based upon the plans of the department, with justifications for the expenditures.
  2. Once the budget is approved, the Department Head allocates the resources within the department in as equitable a manner as possible.
  3. In conjunction with the appropriate faculty and staff, the Department Head ascertains the physical needs of the department and submits requests for special funding when appropriate.
  4. Equipment that is already the responsibility of the department is monitored by the Department Head to insure that it is not lost or abused.
  5. The Department Head works with the department’s library collection development coordinator to implement the development of library holdings that support the department’s program.  He/She works cooperatively with all department members to develop and maintain a relevant list of periodical subscriptions.
  6. Where appropriate, the Department Head is responsible for monitoring the condition of the building in which the department is housed.  He/She will report problems to the administration when necessary.
  7. Where relevant, the Department Head has the responsibility and the authority to see that the chemical hygiene plan is written, updated, and implemented.  In addition, the Department Head appoints the Chemical Hygiene Committee and Chemical Hygiene Officer in accordance with the definition provided in paragraph (b) of 29 CFR 1910.1450 and the requirements outlined in section II-B of The Chemical Hygiene Plan as produced by the Office of Public Safety.  The Department Head has the final responsibility for the safety and health of the employees, visitors, students, and other personnel conducting work in his/her department.

Leadership Qualities
Interpersonal skills and management talent determine whether a Department Head is an effective leader.  The following qualities are intended to be suggestive of effective leadership:

  1. The Department Head is organized and carries out his/her responsibilities in a timely manner.
  2. The Department Head is attentive to different points of view and capable of arriving at a reasoned conclusion.  He/She accepts disagreement and can compromise or change if need be without feeling threatened or being threatening.
  3. The Department Head is capable of communicating ideas, policies, and evaluations effectively and honestly.
  4. The Department Head is fair, tactful, and compassionate in his/her dealings with faculty and staff; he/she should be seen as one who is honest and forthright and not as one who shows favoritism.
  5. The Department Head does not allow disagreements to influence his/her personnel judgments.
  6. The Department Head is capable of motivating others into collective departmental action consistent with departmental and College goals.

September 1989

Rev. 9/97, 8/99, 8/08, 7/15