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School of Arts & Sciences Department Chair Job Description

Chairs of academic departments are vitally important in promoting and advancing the quality of teaching, scholarship and service in the School of Arts & Sciences. The process for nominating and appointing chairs is outlined in the A&S Shared Governance Bylaws.

Department chairs’ administrative duties include but are not limited to the normal operations of the department, such as the scheduling of classes, assigning faculty to courses and academic advising, mentoring departmental faculty and completing annual performance reviews, overseeing departmental recommendations for faculty promotion and tenure, requesting faculty lines, and overseeing departmental recommendations for new faculty hires. Chairs also represent the needs of their departments to the dean. They have fiscal responsibility for their departments, are expected to attend Academic Council meetings and to keep their departments informed of Academic Council deliberations and administrative actions, as well as other matters of operational and administrative importance to the School of Arts & Sciences and the University as a whole.

The major responsibilities of department chairs in the School of Arts & Sciences include but are not limited to:

Direction of Academic Program

  • Serving as the public spokesperson for the department and representative of the department.
  • Leading the department in setting both short- and long-term goals, in establishing and executing assessment efforts and in using assessment results to promote continuous program improvement.
  • Leading periodic program reviews of the department.
  • Promoting the attainment of department, School and University goals. 

Oversight of Teaching and Advising

  • Building a two-year schedule that supports both the department’s curricular goals and general education in cooperation with the Dean’s Office and other departments and programs.
  • Scheduling departmental courses and assigning instructors to these courses in cooperation with the Dean's Office.
  • Monitoring course registrations and making appropriate adjustments in course schedules and instructor assignments in cooperation with other departments and programs and with the Dean's Office.
  • Ensuring the timely development, approval, offering and review of appropriate courses.
  • Overseeing departments’ involvement with off-campus programs, including study abroad and internships.
  • Identifying faculty capacity for advising undeclared students, facilitating the assignment of faculty to major student advising, working with the Academic Advising office to reassign majors for faculty members who will be on leave, and expediting the handling of drop/add and transfer-credit requests as well as other requests that require departmental approval.

Mentoring and Personnel Development

  • Conducting annual reviews of faculty and staff, and attending in this and other ways to the recognition and development of departmental faculty and staff, especially in relation to their teaching, scholarship and service responsibilities.
  • Preparing cases and making recommendations regarding the employment, retention and promotion of departmental faculty and staff.
  • Directing approved personnel searches at the departmental level in cooperation with the Dean's Office, other academic programs and Human Resource Services.
  • Supervising directors, lab managers and other support personnel.

Management of Department Resources

  • Preparing budgetary requests, overseeing the maintenance of facilities and equipment and overseeing the use of other departmental resources.
  • Allocating departmental travel funds.
  • Making arrangements for and/or hosting lecturers, pre- and post-doctoral fellows, visiting professors and events, or seeing that such arrangements and hosting are handled in an appropriate manner. 

Facilitation of Departmental Relations

  • Serving as central figure available to address questions and concerns from students, faculty, staff, parents and others with the expectation of resolution of issues at the department level.
  • Ensuring that departmental events and activities align with the academic objectives of the department, School and University.
  • Taking a leadership role in the mediation of conflicts among constituencies in the department and consulting with the Dean’s Office and Human Resources as necessary. 

Timetable of Responsibilities

The regular ongoing responsibilities of department chairs are fulfilled day to day throughout the entire year. However, some responsibilities are periodic rather than continuous. Specifics will vary from department to department and from year to year, but a general timeline of such periodic responsibilities is available here

Training and Development

Each department chair in the School of Arts & Sciences will typically learn the particular responsibilities of the office from former and current chairs, will have ready access to the dean and associate deans and will be encouraged to request from them any necessary information or desired forms of support. In addition to ongoing training and development at the University of Richmond, the dean will announce off-campus conferences and workshops that promise to be useful for individual chairs. To the fullest extent possible, the dean will support participation by chairs in such conferences and workshops. Chairs may request discussion and advice at Academic Council meetings or separately on any matters pertaining to the fulfillment of their responsibilities.

Support and Recognition

In fulfilling their responsibilities as administrators of academic programs and leaders of the faculty, chairs have the support provided by their own departmental budgets and the opportunity to request additional resources through the office of the dean whenever such support could make a crucial difference to student experience, program quality or faculty and staff development. Such additional support may be made available, at the discretion of the dean, either to insure the inclusive excellence of the department as a whole or to provide timely assistance to one of its members.

In order to properly accomplish their administrative duties, department chairs are granted reassigned time, stipends, and/or other forms of compensation as set forth in policies established and overseen by the dean, in consultation with the A&S faculty. The extent of reassigned time may vary annually depending on circumstances in the department and the size and complexity of the department’s programs.

Also, in recognition of the time it takes to fulfill the responsibilities of the chair, it is recommended that the University's Committee on Committees, the Arts & Sciences Nominating Committee, and the president, provost, and dean should try not to appoint Arts & Sciences chairs to major School and University committees, and even more, not to appoint them as chairs of special ad hoc committees.

Department colleagues will assess the chair’s work in the second year of every three-year term, using the form and procedure approved by the faculty of the School of Arts & Sciences. This formal evaluation as well as performance reports submitted as part of the merit review process will provide the principal means by which the dean will be able to attend to the unique contributions of each individual chair.

Endorsed by the Arts & Sciences Academic Council -12/5/95
Revision endorsed by the Arts & Sciences Academic Council – 9/5/06
Revision endorsed by Arts & Sciences Academic Council – 4/6/10
Revision endorsed by School of Arts & Sciences Faculty – 4/26/10
Revision endorsed by the Arts & Sciences Academic Council - 9/17/2019