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Administration & Governance - Department Chairs - Chair Election Process

This page outlines guidelines for the academic department chair election process in the School of Human Ecology.

Approved October 21, 2013


The School of Human Ecology (SoHE) has operated under the practice of one chair for each Academic Department. The prevailing sentiment is that this configuration represents our operating “ideal”. However, the SoHE is defined as a single department under FP&P which can allow some flexibility to also consider three acting chairs when it is deemed most appropriate.

  • The Chairs’ roles are to be performed more efficiently and effectively by leaders committed to developing excellent interpersonal, management, and team-building skills over a sustained period of time which are based on advance preparation and continuing feedback.
  • The Chairs’ roles are more clearly focused on intellectual leadership, human capital development, and programmatic and discipline development, as opposed to transactional processes (e.g., timetables, student recruitment, student services, budgeting), all of which can be centralized.
  • The chairs are compensated on a more competitive basis.
  • The leadership and administrative roles are balanced between the dean’s office and the unit. i.e., leadership roles are shared and spread across units, while transactional roles are more centralized (for greater efficiency).The departmental administration is structured such that we have a smaller number of people who are highly qualified and possess specialized skill sets. These people can serve all four units and centers more effectively.
  • School’s Executive Committee approval processes are structured such that duplications are minimized at the unit level with respect to annual reviews, promotion & tenure, and post-tenure reviews.
  • The School will maintain its strong brand (OneSoHE21) while also centralizing many operations and strengthening each department’s intellectual brand, both on campus and across the nation.
  • Dean and department Chairs plan to develop an emerging leadership team to create succession plans for the department’s and the School’s leaders.

Duties and Responsibilities

Position Summary

The School of Human Ecology (SoHE) Department Chair demonstrates leadership qualities, moves the department forward, builds a high-performance culture, forges partnerships within the department and across the units in the SoHE, and manages resources(see SoHE Leadership Expectations). The Chair provides leadership both as an active scholar and by supporting department scholarship. The Chair nurtures the professional growth of individual faculty, creates a welcoming environment for diverse students and faculty, and works to improve the quality of instruction, disciplined inquiry, and outreach/community engagement. The Chair works in tandem with the dean, associate dean(s), assistant deans, and other leadership team members in advancing the SoHE’s mission and strategic goals. The Chair is expected to be available, as needed, to deal with any issues that might rise during the summer months and in preparation for the new academic year – an average workload equivalent to 2 full-weeks(or one day per week). 

Responsibilities & Duties

  • Provide departmental leadership for establishing, developing, and implementing strategic short-term and long-range goals, objectives, and plans.
  • Provide leadership for and coordination of curriculum development and instruction, faculty development, research, and outreach/Extension education.
  • Works closely with the teams within the SoHE faculty governance (e.g., executive committee, APC, school-wide committees).
  • Nurture the professional development of faculty and staff toward excellence and national distinction in research, teaching, outreach/community engagement, and promote an open and inclusive work environment.
  • Provide leadership in faculty and staff hiring and development: orient new faculty, manage the tenure and promotion as well as the post-tenure process consistent with SoHE and University policies
  • Work collaboratively with the Dean's and Student Academic Affairs offices to establish and maintain departmental enrollment targets and effectively manage student admission processes.
  • Provide leadership for enhancing student learning and development, (which includes managing the department's plan for assessing student learning and preparing annual assessment reports as well as completing undergraduate and graduate program reviews as directed by institutional guidelines and/or external accrediting agencies).
  • Participate in alumni development efforts(given that effective alumni relations begin well before students actually graduate).
  • Oversee administrative services essential to the effective and efficient operation of the department using independent judgment and discretionary authority.
  • Espouse and practice principles of affirmative action and equal opportunity, and achieve diversity in the student body and workforce.
  • Work closely with directors of Center(s) affiliated with the department in advancing the department’s and the Center’s mission; supports extension specialists’ efforts in the department.
  • Provide leadership to the department in seeking additional funding sources.
  • Prepare, prioritize, and monitor departmental budget requests and expenditures.
  • Schedule, set agenda for, and preside at departmental faculty meetings; appoint ad hoc committees as necessary.
  • Represent the department in its internal and external affairs.
  • Represent the department on the Dean's academic leadership team, and in other all-school forums.
  • Supervises departmental staff
  • Work closely with the Dean and Associate Dean(s) and collaborate with Assistant Deans, and other Academic Chairs and Center directors in support of the School’s mission and strategic goals.
  • Other duties, as assigned.


Five years expected (3+2 – third-year check-point; voted annually with feedback); renewable, contingent upon a successful 5-year review; an exception can be made when considering an extension faculty member and/or when no other alternatives are possible.


  • $10,000 flat rate (primarily for summer, but an exception can be made for TBA), 1 course buyout, SNE ($1000 standard; for grant intensive chairs, up to $3000)
  • Comparable to that of the School of Education and the School of Business (Note that these units have budgetary and operational responsibilities); greater than that of a smaller school (professional schools, such as Pharmacy and Law).

*proportionate to the scope of the duties


Executive Committee (i.e., tenured SoHE faculty members)

Election Process

  • A nomination and election coordinator (the Chair of another academic department or a senior faculty member in the academic department who is not interested in the position) is appointed by the Dean. The coordinator solicits nominations from the academic department’s faculty (the Dean’s office will assist with the process).
  • The coordinator approaches top 2 to 3 nominees to determine whether they are interested in the position.
  • All interested candidates are asked to submit to the coordinator a letter of interest that speaks of vision, goals, and qualifications, along with a CV.
  • The coordinator invites all candidates to make a presentation about his/her vision for the future and take part in a brief interview involving members of the faculty, graduate students, and members of the staff (all candidates must be recused from other presentations and departmental discussions).
  • Each candidate also interviews with the Dean, the Associate Dean, and the Assistant Deans.
  • The coordinator seeks and compiles feedback from all who have attended the presentation, then discusses the results with the faculty.
  • Voting-eligible faculty and instructional staff members (tenured, tenure-track, and full-time faculty associates) in the academic department vote (either highly acceptable, acceptable, or not acceptable).
  • The coordinator reports the voting results to the voting-eligible members and submits the results to the Dean with a summary statement of the strengths and weakness of each candidate.
  • The Dean makes a final decision and appoints the new Chair.

Annual Report and Feedback

  • Each year, eligible voting faculty members (tenure-track, tenured, and faculty associates) cast their votes and offer comments. The Dean’s executive assistant will compile the comments, and the Dean will use them in the annual performance review process. In the event that the vote is two-thirds negative, the Dean will meet with the department faculty to determine whether or not the negative vote has resulted from issues that can be addressed. Based on the nature of any such issues, and on the Chair’s response, the Dean will then make a final decision on whether or not to continue the Chair’s appointment.
  • At the end of the 3rd year, the Dean and the Chair will have an opportunity to discuss whether or not the Chair intends to continue two or more years. They will also devise a succession plan that will prepare next generation of emerging leaders in the department.

Succession Planning and Advance Preparation 

  • The Dean and the department Chairs will discuss succession plans.
  • In the event of a chair choosing to step down, each chair-elect will be elected in a manner that allows for the Chair-elect to be prepared for the new Chair role. Training for new chairs may include but not limited to team building, consensus building, conflict resolution, leadership, strategic thinking, and work distribution as well as training programs available at the university level.
  • Dean, Associate Deans, and experienced Chairs from other departments will be expected to provide mentorship for new Chairs.

Keywordsadministration & governance, department chair, election   Doc ID105251
OwnerMichelle H.GroupSchool of Human Ecology
Created2020-08-24 16:30:24Updated2022-10-04 10:42:57
SitesSchool of Human Ecology
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