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Position Description

Department chairs are appointed by the Dean after she or he considers the advice of a department and consults with the President. The term of appointment may vary according to a department’s circumstances, but normally appointments are for three years, with the possibility of renewal. The College grants department chairs an additional non-teaching Block because of their increased responsibilities. In years when those responsibilities are unusually extensive and demanding, a chair may negotiate with the Dean for additional compensation.

A.  The Duties and Responsibilities of Department Chairs

Department chairs oversee all departmental activities, but no chair is expected to fulfill all his or her duties without assistance. A chair should instead delegate various tasks widely and equitably among departmental colleagues. When other persons agree to undertake particular departmental tasks, they should consult regularly with the chair as the work proceeds.

One of the most important responsibilities of a department chair is to promote the morale of her or his department through consultative and supportive leadership. The chair’s specific duties fall into four categories.

Governance. The chair manages all the resources of the department: its personnel, academic program, space allocation, and equipment. The chair represents the department in the budget- planning process, at chairs’ meetings and faculty meetings, and in other meetings called to conduct College business. The chair oversees periodic self-studies and external reviews of the department and prepares assessment reports that are required by certification boards or accrediting agencies.

Personnel. The chair submits directly to the Dean all departmental recommendations regarding reappointment, sabbatical leaves, and leaves of absence. The chair sends to the Divisional Executive Committee recommendations regarding third-year reviews, tenure, and promotion for the members of his or her department. The chair oversees the process of recruiting and hiring new faculty members as well as the hiring and orientation of Block visitors.

A chair has no more important responsibility than advising and counseling junior members of the department. Conversations about a wide range of subjects—from teaching philosophy, criteria for tenure, and faculty expectations of students to such mundane matters as choosing course texts, constructing syllabi, and giving exams—can help allay anxiety and enable new faculty to become familiar with the culture of Colorado College. With a view to third-year and tenure reviews, a chair also facilitates colleagues’ visits to class sessions of the department’s junior members.

At least once each academic year, a chair discusses with all members of the department their record of teaching, scholarship, and College service. (For the College’s expectations in these three areas, see PART TWO, VII.A.) These discussions make possible a broader perspective from which faculty can assess their various contributions to the College community. The ultimate goal of these conversations is to improve teaching and learning at Colorado College. To this end, the chair will, for example, call attention to a faculty member’s strengths, help him or her to recognize any deficiencies, and discuss possible ways to improve teaching strategies or to pursue scholarly projects. One important resource for the chair’s evaluation of a faculty member’s teaching effectiveness is student course evaluations; and one of the chair’s duties is ensuring that all department members require their students to complete and submit course questionnaires in every course in accordance with departmental guidelines.

The chair conducts annual salary reviews for non-tenured members of the department and bi- annual reviews for tenured faculty and forwards her or his salary recommendations to the Divisional Executive Committee.

The chair supervises all non-teaching employees of the department—office personnel, laboratory technicians, paraprofessionals, and student assistants. This supervisory role includes the responsibility of preparing performance

Curriculum.  Chairs make the final decisions about teaching assignments for members of their department. They prepare the department’s annual schedule of courses for the Registrar and submit proposals for new courses or course changes to the appropriate Divisional Executive Committee. (Faculty members send proposals for General Education courses directly to the Committee on Instruction.)

Chairs are responsible for enabling members of the department to provide adequate academic advice to their advisees. They make sure that departmental requirements and up-to-date information about graduate programs and career opportunities are accessible to majors, and they organize activities such as departmental social functions and departmental seminars featuring visiting speakers. A chair, after consulting with student and supervising faculty member, must sign all proposals for independent study undertaken in the department.

Chairs can contribute to the wider academic goals of the College by helping to develop cooperative teaching opportunities and by encouraging department members to participate in inter-disciplinary programs, General Education courses, and the College’s First Year Experience initiative.

Budget.  The chair prepares the department’s annual budget request; provides budget information, when requested, to authorized College offices or committees; and monitors departmental spending. 

B. Release Time

Chairs are eligible for a release block from teaching in order to carry out administrative duties.