Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairperson

Faculty and Professional Staff Handbook »

The Department Chairperson is a faculty member with assigned responsibility to provide academic and administrative leadership to an academic department. S/he is elected and recommended by the department faculty to the President or his/her designee (Provost and Senior Vice President or College Dean) for appointment consideration. During an individual’s tenure as chair, s/he retains all the rights and privileges of a faculty member as contained in the union (AFT/State) Agreement. The Chairperson reports to the College Dean. S/he provides appropriate leadership for the advancement of academic excellence and the effective functioning of the department which includes the implementation of University, college and department policies.

In cooperation and consultation with his or her faculty member, the Department Chairperson:

  • Leads the department in developing and implementing immediate and long-range departmental goals and objectives (in concert with faculty input) to meet University and college goals and objectives;
  • Leads the department in coordinating the development of a yearly plan of course offerings, including the development of the annual course (teaching) schedule for each faculty member, based on the academic needs of students and in consultation with the faculty;
  • Leads the department in coordinating the development and enhancement of departmental curricula and initiatives for the improvement of instruction;
  • Encourages and assists faculty to improve professionally through study, research, creative activity, service and participation in professional activities;
  • Leads the department in promoting inter-departmental cooperation and interdisciplinary initiatives;
  • Coordinates activities within the department that go beyond the delivery of instruction, such as assessment, writing, critical thinking and diversity initiatives;
  • Maintains active communication with university administration, the WPU community, alumni, and related external bodies (e.g., for purposes of certification practica and internships);
  • Participates in college and university deliberations and contributes to policy formation in his/her role as faculty;
  • Monitors, with faculty advisors and program coordinators, the academic progress of student cohorts;
  • Coordinates and supervises departmental advisement, registration, and other retention initiatives in collaboration with the faculty;
  • In consultation with the faculty recommends the appointment of departmental graduate coordinators to the College Dean and supervises their activities;
  • In his or her role as faculty member, assures that the provisions of the union (AFT/State) Agreement at the departmental level, including those relating to recommendations for retention, tenure, and promotion, be followed;
  • Coordinates all search and screening committee processes, including the selection of the search committee; works closely with the Office of Employment Equity and Diversity and the Office of Human Resources to ensure conformity to the WPU Employment Process Guidelines and Diversity Plan;
  • Forwards departmental recommendations to the Dean for hiring full-time, part-time and adjunct faculty;
  • Serves as fiscal officer for the department; prepares and monitors the departmental budget, and reports to the department on the status of the budget at least twice a year, minimally in September and May;
  • Oversees the maintenance of accurate and up-to-date faculty and student records;
  • Prepares reports in cooperation with the department faculty, including the annual departmental report, as requested by the President or his/her designees, and appropriate outside agencies;
  • Hires and monitors the evaluation of adjunct faculty per the union (State/AFT) Agreement and University policy (i.e. Faculty and Professional Staff Handbook);
  • Supervises and evaluates civil service staff, student workers, and graduate assistants;
  • Reviews and forwards requests for permission to travel for professional purposes and for allocation of departmental travel funds per departmental by-laws and guidelines and University policy;
  • Reviews and forwards all faculty proposals for awards and leaves as per the union (AFT/State) Agreement and University policy;
  • Supervises the resolution of student grievances and grade appeals, following established departmental, college, and University-wide procedures;
  • Convenes department meetings on a regular basis (approximately once a month during the academic year);
  • Arranges for representation for the department at official University functions such as convocation and commencement ceremonies; and
  • Performs other traditional duties and responsibilities as assigned by the President or his/her designee (Provost and Senior Vice President or College Dean) in conformance with the union (State/AFT) Agreement.


Department Chairpersons are appointed to serve three-year terms and can be reappointed based on the recommendation of the faculty to the President of his/her designee (Provost and Senior Vice President or College Dean). No department by-laws shall limit the tenure of a chair to one term only. Regular elections for department chairs shall be conducted in a timely manner in anticipation of the expiration of the existing term and recommendations forwarded to the President or his/her designee (Provost and Senior Vice President or College Dean) by March 31 of that year. The initiation and verification of the completion of the process shall be the responsibility of the College Dean. The election in each department shall be conducted according to the terms of departmental by-laws and the union (State AFT) Agreement.

The President or his/her designee (Provost and Senior Vice President or College Dean) may ask a chairperson to resign (i) for cause or (ii) if the President or his/her designee (Provost and Senior Vice President or College Dean) has received a petition, with written reasons for removal, from 2/3 of the department faculty, requesting the chairperson’s resignation. If the request is denied, the President or his/her designee (Provost and Senior Vice President or College Dean) shall give the department his or her reasons for the rejection within 30 days. Before removal, a Chairperson shall be accorded due process according to determined procedure. Chairpersons wishing to resign may do so by informing in writing the department faculty and the President or his/her designee (Provost and Senior Vice President or College Dean).

Confirmation of Review of the Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairperson Form