Department Chair and Program Director Handbook

As a Jesuit university, we recognize that being a Department Chair or Program Director requires leadership and commitment to advance academic excellence in the service of humankind. This position requires attention to a wide variety of department or program responsibilities and perspectives, as well as facilitation of collaborative decision-making. As a leader, role model, and community member, your colleagues trust in your ability to foster an enriching and supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff.

This handbook is a practical guide for you to consult throughout your tenure as Department Chair or Program Director. Please note that this is a living document and procedures and processes may change. In this position, you will balance day-to-day tasks, the vision of the University, and goals specific to your discipline. We hope this will be a challenging but fulfilling experience.


Responsibilities of the Dean's Office Responsibilities of the Chair/director
Assigning courses and classrooms to faculty Creating the dept/program course schedule
Hiring, evaluating and terminating faculty and staff Hiring and Overseeing Part-time Faculty
Managing Program Assistants Working with and providing feedback on, but not supervising, the Program Assistant
Assigning offices to faculty Mentoring New Faculty
Setting faculty workload including approving course release or overload Electing a Chair
Evaluation of full-time faculty Academic Program Review
Granting faculty requests to be absent from class after Chair/Director approval Assessment
Scheduling final exam times Departmental and Program Retreats
Approving student requests for course substitutions/waivers and PEAI  
This list of areas is not exhaustive. For any questions, please contact the Dean's Office.  


Every new full-time faculty member (tenure-track and term) is assigned a faculty mentor. The Chair/Director and the Associate Dean will discuss who would be a good fit with the new faculty member. The Associate Dean will then contact the mentor and the new faculty member.

In addition to the "formal" mentor, new faculty may also have informal mentors. It is usually the case that new faculty will seek and get advice from a variety of people. Faculty may need mentoring and advice in any area of their career, including establishing an independent research program, effective teaching, and meaningful service. Mentoring in the department or program might include identifying resources for research projects or materials, going over the syllabi, observing in the classroom, offering suggestions for classroom management, and helping identify useful and appropriate service opportunities.

The Center for Teaching Excellence hosts a wide array of teaching resources for all faculty including workshops, reading groups, learning communities, and online materials.

Please refer to the Part-time Faculty Association Collective Bargaining Agreement for complete information on the terms and conditions of adjunct faculty work at USF.

Interview and Hire Process

Chairs/Directors may contact their professional networks and lists to identify new adjunct hires. When needed, adjunct jobs may be posted on the USF Careers website. Please contact to post positions.

Once an applicant is identified, the Chair/Director interviews applicants and makes recommendations to the Associate Dean. It is expected that adjuncts either have or are completing a terminal degree, or have equivalent experience. The decision regarding the acceptable academic credentials of the applicant should be made by the Chair/Director and the department/program's faculty in consultation with the Associate Dean.

Once the Chair/Director identifies a candidate to recommend, they should email their area Associate Dean with the following information:

  •     Applicant name, address, phone number, and email
  •     CV
  •     Rationale for hire
  •     Additional documentation if applicable – teaching evaluations, website, portfolio, etc.
  •     Course CRN, title, number, and location

The area Associate Dean may choose to interview the applicant, and ultimately, the Associate Dean is responsible for hiring the applicant. Once the hire has been approved by the Associate Dean, the applicant will be sent a letter of intent to hire by the dean's office. (This letter is not a contract; contracts are sent out on census date for the course.)

Soon after the letter of intent to hire is sent to a new adjunct, the new adjunct is entered into USFWorks. USFWorks will send an email with a welcome and onboarding instructions to the new hire. Once the new adjunct has completed online onboarding, Banner will generate a CWID within 48 hours.  After the CWID is generated, the Assistant Director of Academic Planning enters the new adjunct into the course schedule. At this point, the new adjunct will be able to access USF email, Canvas, and online library resources.

In order to finalize the hire, the new adjunct must visit the Human Resources Office (Lone Mountain Main 339) on or before their first day to complete a Form I-9. They must bring supporting documentation from the List of Acceptable Form I-9 Documents that Human Resources will provide. Once the hiring is finalized by Human Resources, the new adjunct will be able to set up their OneCard. If the new adjunct is outside the Bay Area, they should call HR to find an authorized location near them to complete the I-9.

Contracts are sent to the new adjunct's USF email account on the Census Date for assigned course(s), when sufficient enrollment has been confirmed for the course. In the meantime, we encourage new adjuncts to view the Part-Time Faculty New Hire Checklist which includes resources to get started at USF.

Teaching Evaluations

The Chair/Director may look at the evaluations of adjunct faculty. They should make the request to the program assistant of the area Associate Dean (cc the Associate Dean). It is strongly recommended that departments develop a systematic approach to monitoring, evaluating, and mentoring adjunct faculty to ensure strong performance.


Before the semester begins, the Chair/Director should review adjunct faculty's syllabi. While it is not mandatory that an adjunct faculty member use the syllabus originally approved for a course, the syllabus must meet the CAS syllabus guidelines, match the approved course description that appears in the catalog, and maintain the same course learning outcomes that were originally approved.

Class Visits

The Chair/Director or a designated full-time faculty member in the department is encouraged to visit an adjunct's class at least once during their first semester of teaching at USF to provide them with feedback. The Chair/Director may continue to visit an adjunct's class in subsequent semesters as follow-up.


When the Chair/Director makes up the schedule, they can list courses to be taught by adjunct faculty with "TBA" (rather than a name). Once an adjunct faculty member has successfully taught for the department, the Chair/Director can include the adjunct faculty's name in the schedule so that students can be informed of who will be teaching the class. Please note that adjunct faculty (PHP and non-PHP) do not have the right to decide what days and times they will teach nor request the specific classroom they wish to teach in.

Maximum Teaching Load

Adjunct faculty may teach no more than 8 units per term (fall, spring, or summer) and no more than 24 units in a calendar year, regardless of whether they teach in other schools at USF. In rare exceptions, an adjunct faculty member may be allowed to teach more than 8 units in a given semester. Chair/Directors must first receive authorization from the Associate Dean before assigning an adjunct to more than 8 units, and the Associate Dean must seek approval from the Provost’s Office. Unit overages should only be requested due to unusual circumstances and after all other options have been explored. Adjunct faculty must also not exceed the maximum total weekly work hours defined by the Affordable Care Act policies. Please consult with your Associate Dean for more details.


The salary for adjunct faculty is set contractually as a result of collective bargaining between the USF Part-time Faculty Association and the University. Contact the Dean's Office for current pay scales for PHP, PHP 2, and non-PHP adjunct faculty.

If a course is cancelled fewer than 25 days prior to the first day of class in the Fall semester and fewer than 14 days prior to the start for the Spring semester, adjunct faculty are paid a 10% cancellation fee, or 15% if a course is cancelled the day before class or later. The fee does not apply if the adjunct is assigned a different class, or if the class is converted to directed study. If a class is cancelled before the 25 day window begins, no compensation is paid to the adjunct faculty member.

Reduced Enrollment Courses (Adjunct only)

Some low enrolled courses taught by adjunct faculty may be allowed to run by converting to a Reduced Enrollment Course or "REC". According to the collectively bargained agreement between the administration and the Part-Time Faculty Association, REC (Reduced Enrollment Course rate) is no longer a strict pro-rate, but instead is a single alternate rate - 10/12 (83.3%) - for courses that are at 10 or below on Census Date.  This was intended to provide better protection to adjunct faculty against late “melt” (initially registered students who do not continue through to Census Day), since it provides a clear floor below which compensation will not fall.  
The advantages of REC courses include:

  • Adjunct faculty will retain their classroom, class time, and their Canvas site.
  • Adjunct faculty will receive the same compensation as they would if the course converted to Directed Study, but without the paperwork hassles and potential delay in payment.
  • Adjunct faculty may count REC courses that are evaluated towards PHP eligibility (whereas Directed Study courses are not evaluated nor counted towards PHP eligibility); teaching evaluations are generated when four or more students complete teaching evaluations.

Adjunct faculty are not required to accept the conversion of a low enrolled course to REC, and if the proposed conversion takes place within the 25 day window before classes begin in the Fall semester (or 14 days, in the case of the Spring semester, or 7 days in the case of Summer and Intersession), the adjunct unwilling to accept conversion is eligible for a 10% course cancellation fee. If conversion is expected or proposed by the Dean’s Office prior to that window, an adjunct who is also a PHP member may have the right to request another course originally assigned to a non-PHP member, or if there are no courses assigned to non-PHP, then the department may offer a course taught by a PHP faculty with the least PHP seniority date, as these constitute best practices associated with PHP faculty course assignments.
Formal notification of adjunct faculty teaching low enrolled courses to be converted to REC will come from the Dean's office, but Chairs/Directors/Coordinators are responsible for communicating with adjunct faculty, particularly those being assigned a course that is already low enrolled, so they are not under the impression that an assignment of a low enrolled course will be compensated at 100%.

Establishing a good relationship with departmental staff is of utmost importance. The program assistant (PA) and other staff are the ones who keep the department running on a day-to-day basis. The Chair/Director and the staff are a team that works together to ensure the smooth operation of the department or program. Every new chair/director should meet with the staff to discuss their duties and expectations for each other. It is also a good idea to set up a regular meeting time to check in and make sure that everything is running efficiently.

OPE and Exempt Staff

Program assistants belong to the OPE union. Their salaries are collectively bargained and their job duties are clearly defined. Chairs/Directors should not ask PAs to perform tasks outside of their duties or take on excess work, such as staying overtime or coming in on a weekend. Please consult the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs with any questions about PA workload. Many other full-time staff are exempt. Exempt staff are not unionized, and their duties and compensation vary widely. They typically perform more specialized tasks, and their hours are more loosely defined. However, chairs and directors should communicate with them clearly about their work hours so that they will fulfill the expected needs in the program.

Performance Appraisal

In October of each year, the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs holds an informal meeting with each PA and follows up with the Chair/Director as needed. In March of each year, the Chair/Director will be asked by the Dean's Office to meet with their PA about their performance and fill out an evaluation. This evaluation serves as a recommendation to the Dean's Office and is considered as one of the determinants for evaluating performance. The PA then meets with the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs to discuss performance and goals. This exact procedure may vary, so please be sure to follow the guidelines and deadlines provided by the Dean's Office in March.

Department chairs and/or program directors will also be asked to provide feedback for any exempt staff, who will meet with their supervisors in the Dean's Office at the end of the academic year to discuss performance.

Supervising Staff

Although the Chair or Director oversees much of the activity of the departmental staff, the formal OPE Supervisor is the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. The Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs will rely on the input and judgment of the Chair and Director, but is ultimately responsible for hiring, formal evaluation, discipline, and termination.

All faculty, both full-time and part-time, must fill out a Request to Be Absent From Class form if they need to miss a class due to planned, legitimate university business or professional development, or jury duty. Faculty who miss class must find an appropriate substitute instructor or equivalent guided instruction or activity. Extra out-of-class assignments or reading does not satisfy this requirement. The Chair/Director must sign off on this form before it comes to the Dean's Office. The form must be submitted to the Dean's Office for approval before the day(s) of absence. In the case of emergencies where the faculty member is unable to prepare this in advance, s/he should notify their Program Assistant, Chair/Director, students, and the Dean's Office Program Assistant in their area as soon as possible.

Faculty may invite professionals from outside the university to substitute during an absence; however, they will need to be added to the system as a "visiting scholar" and go through a criminal background check before the substitution date. To initiate this process, please complete an affiliate form and submit it to

Please refer to Article 17 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement for complete information on the promotion and tenure process. Unlike many other universities, departments/programs and chairs/directors do not play an official role in the process of promotion or granting of tenure. Peer review committees do not solicit nor do they expect to receive any assessment of the candidate by the department or program, or from the department chair or program director. The candidate may choose to approach the Chair/Director, or individual members of the department or program, and request a letter of recommendation to be included in the application for tenure and/or promotion.
Faculty should not ask the Program Assistant or student workers (including RA's or TA's) to assist them in preparing tenure and promotion materials. This is not considered part of the PAs' or students' job descriptions.
Similarly, departmental or program funds should not be used to assist faculty in preparing their tenure and promotion materials. The University will pay for reasonable duplicating costs and those associated with the purchase of books directly relevant to the candidate's promotion and tenure file. Candidates should contact their Associate Dean for reimbursement of duplicating costs and book purchases.

It can be useful to hold occasional retreats in order to address large-scale issues that cannot be covered during regular meetings. Examples include overhauling the curriculum, preparing the self-study or responding to an external review, or planning for assessment. It may also be useful to hold a retreat to promote team-building or increase communication.
The retreat can take place either on- or off-campus. Off-campus locations can encourage faculty to focus on the discussion at hand and avoid distractions.
Retreats should be held at a minimum of expense, e.g., some departments will hold a potluck if the retreat coincides with a mealtime, or off-campus locations may include the home of a faculty member. On occasion, the Dean's office may be able to provide minimal funding; the Chair/Director should work with the Associate Dean to handle the details.

Each department or program should have by-laws that spell out the format, frequency, and general rules for periodic meetings. The by-laws should also describe methods for decision-making, departmental and program roles, and other relevant governing information. Departments and programs may also choose to update their by-laws periodically; the by-laws should contain the methodology for their amendment.
The Chair/Director is responsible for acting on the needs of the department or program, and is also expected to offer a vision for the department or program. A primary way in which this is done is through periodic meetings, since the Chair/Director sets the agenda. Any faculty member has the right to put an item on the agenda, but the Chair/Director ultimately makes the decision about what is discussed in the limited time available. For example, some Chairs/Directors disseminate information that needs no discussion by email. This method may save time, not only because faculty can read the information before the meetings, but also because often even bringing up relatively uncontroversial items at a meeting can lead to lengthy and non-productive discussions. The agenda should contain only substantive issues that can be clarified by an honest and open discussion.
In general, departments or programs meet once a month, but the Chair/Director can call for additional meetings as necessary. The Chair/Director should book the meetings well ahead of time — at the beginning of the semester if possible — so that all members know when all scheduled meetings will take place. At least a week before a scheduled meeting, the Chair/Director should distribute a preliminary agenda and ask members if they have other items they wish to place on the agenda.
All full-time faculty are expected to attend these meetings. Departments or programs may decide whether they wish for adjunct faculty to attend; this should be addressed in the by-laws. The department may ask the Program Assistant (PA) to attend the meetings and take the minutes. The PA should be excused if there are agenda items deemed inappropriate (e.g., PA workload).

The Chair/Director is expected to attend Arts Council (if the department is in the area of Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences) or COSEC (if the department is in the area of Sciences) meetings. The members of Arts Council/COSEC include the Chairs/Directors of all the departments and programs in these areas and USFFA Policy Board members. The agendas for these meetings usually include issues that need to be brought to the Dean or handled by the councils. Meetings take place once a month. In order to find out who the Council Chair(s) are and when the meetings take place, please contact your Associate Dean.

The Chair/Director is expected to attend the monthly meeting of the College Council, which consists of all members of the Arts Council, COSEC, Program Directors, the Dean, the Associate Deans, and the Assistant to the Dean. The agenda includes proposals from the Arts Council, COSEC, and the Dean. Information, discussions, and announcements made in the College Council should be shared with the department/program faculty so that they are informed of any new updates in the college. In order to find out when the meetings take place, please contact your Associate Dean.

The Chair or Director who is serving as the Chair of their Core Area for a given academic year is also the Core Area Committee's representative to the Core Advisory Committee (CAC). CAC is a university committee (housed in the college since the college overlooks the core area for the university). Members of the CAC include chairs from the six core areas A-F, representatives from School of Management and School of Nursing and Health Professions, as well as members from the administration. The committee is tasked with overseeing the core curriculum for the university, working with the Core Area Working Group (CAWG) that is responsible for assessing the core curriculum, and with advising the CAS Dean and Senior Vice Provost on matters related to core curriculum. This committee meets once every month, on the first Wednesday of the month, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. For more information, please see our Core Advisory Committee page, which also includes the Core Area Committee Chair Representation Rotation Plan.

The typical term of service for a department chair or program director is three years, but departments and programs are free to determine the length of time a chair or director should serve, according to their by-laws. For chairs, the selection process is outlined on pp 68-69 of the USFFA CBA: all full-time faculty participate in an election using secret ballot, with a simple majority of those present needed to elect. For programs, the CBA is silent; we encourage programs to use the same process as departments for consistency.
Best practice is to plan chair/director succession well in advance, so that the incoming chair or director can spend a semester shadowing the current chair/director — getting cc'd on emails regarding scheduling, discussing long-term department goals, attending a meeting of Arts Council or COSEC, and so on.


The relevant text from the Collective Bargaining Agreement.


25.1 All department chairs shall remain in the bargaining unit.
25.2 The department chair shall be accountable to the Dean and shall perform duties and responsibilities as set forth by the Dean. Such duties may include but not be limited to: communication with faculty, student advising, scheduling, budgeting, program development and review, recruitment, report writing, planning department functions, working with the Dean on administrative responsibilities, evaluation and review of appointment procedures, reporting to the Dean on faculty accountability for workload or for funds spent for departmental activities, curriculum and the like. The department chair shall be compensated with released time. Released time shall be from three (3) to six (6) units per semester as determined by the Dean. Should the department chairperson not perform duties as set forth by the Dean, such released time shall be immediately withdrawn and the individual may be reassigned by the Dean.
25.3 All full-time faculty, without exception, may participate in the election of the chair. The election for chair shall be by secret ballot and by a simple majority of members who are present to vote.
25.4 If the Dean determines that a department chair is not fulfilling responsibilities as set forth in the Labor Agreement, he or she may request the department in writing to elect another chair. Should the department faculty fail to vote for and designate a new chair within two weeks from the date they are requested to do so by the Dean, the Dean shall request another election. Should the department faculty fail to vote for and designate a new chair within two weeks after a second written request from the Dean, the department shall forfeit the right to elect a chair, and the dean may: administer the department from his or her office; or merge the department with one or more departments within the University.
The University has the sole non-grievable right to identify which faculty positions shall be department chairs.
In the following schools and colleges, only the following positions shall be deemed department chairs:

  • College of Arts and Sciences – Department Chairs and/or Program Directors
  • School of Management – To be determined by the Dean
  • School of Education – Program Chairs or Directors
  • School of Nursing and Health Professions – Department Chairs and/or Program Directors

Academic Program Review (APR) is a process of regular, systematic review and evaluation of academic programs and departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. The purpose is to evaluate the quality of academic programs to identify strengths and weaknesses so that priorities can be established for program improvement and modification. The goal is to promote and maintain academic excellence and ensure that programs are being efficiently administered, meeting their program learning outcomes and working in ways consistent with the University's mission and values.
The typical review cycle is seven years, although the Dean may choose to reduce or lengthen that if necessary.
Details about the APR process, including the current schedule of APRs, USF’s Academic Program Review Guidelines, and the CAS APR Guide for Departments and Programs, are available in the "Academic Program Review" section of the Academic Effectiveness page.
The CAS APR Guide, as of August 2017, is located in Appendix X.
The Chair/Director is responsible for overseeing the department/program tasks for the APR; however, the Chair/Director should delegate tasks so that all full-time faculty are engaged with the APR process. It is crucial that all full-time faculty members participate in writing the self-study; at a minimum, all full-time faculty members must have the opportunity to review and contribute to the document. All full-time faculty members, as well as adjunct faculty, staff, and students will have an opportunity to talk with the reviewers. The Chair/Director works with the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Effectiveness to ensure that tasks are completed on time, the reviewers have access to the information they need for their evaluation, and the Action Plan is created.

Departmental or Program Self-Study

The full-time faculty members write a comprehensive report addressing important aspects of the academic program or department under review. Refer to USF's APR Guidelines, as noted above.

External or Internal Review

An external review team will be constructed for APRs of departments and graduate programs, as described in USF’s APR Guidelines. Minor programs that are not reviewed alongside a major program will be reviewed by an internal team. After reading the Self Study and completing a campus visit, the review team submits the Reviewers’ Report that provides an evaluation of the department/program and short-term and long-term recommendations for improvement.

Action Plan

The full-time faculty meet with the Deans to discuss the Reviewers’ Report and recommendations. In this meeting, they create the Action Plan, as described in USF’s APR Guidelines.

  • The Chair or Program Director meets with the Area Associate Dean and the Associate Dean for Academic Effectiveness to go over the APR process and establish a timeline for completion of steps.
  • The department/program plans and holds meeting(s) and/or retreat(s) to discuss and plan the Self Study.
  • The department/program begins discussion of potential external reviewers.
  • The department/program plans and holds meeting(s) and/or retreat(s) to discuss and plan the self-study.
  • The department/program begins discussion of potential external reviewers.
  • The full-time faculty submit a list of 12 potential reviewers, key issues and challenges currently facing the department/program, and a list of dates to avoid for the campus visit.
  • The full-time faculty gather relevant data and draft the Self Study document.
  • The full-time faculty submit the final Self Study document
  • The Chair or Program Director works with the Associate Dean for Academic Effectiveness to create the campus visit schedule.
  • The Dean's Office receives the Reviewers' Report and forwards it to the Chair or Program Director, who shares it with the full time faculty in the department/program
  • The Associate Dean for Academic Effectiveness writes an Executive Summary of the Reviewers’ Report and provides it to the department/program.
  • The Deans meet with the full-time faculty of the department/program to create the Action Plan
  • The Associate Dean for Academic Effectiveness works with the Department Chair/Program Director to finalize the Action Plan.

See Curriculum page for information on annual assessments, Core Area Committee, and submitting Course changes through Curriculog.

The Executive Director of Business Affairs monitors each department's budget along with the Chair/Director. All budgetary documents including the monthly statement are available in Banner. In order to learn how to view and manage the budget, the Chair/Director should arrange to meet with a member of the Office of Budget and Planning for Banner Finance training.

As a rule, departmental or program funds are only to be used for activities that serve one or more of the following purposes:

  • Benefit all students
  • Enhance the classroom experience
  • Provide tools and equipment that will enhance faculty teaching or research

For example, departmental or program funds cannot be used for a social event for an individual course, but may be used for a pizza party to which all majors are invited. Departmental or program funds can be used for a field trip, even though this benefits one sub-group of students, as long as the excursion enhances the classroom experience.
Departmental or program funds may also be used to buy computer accessories such as memory, software, or an external hard-drive as long as the faculty member can make the case that such purchases would result in better teaching or research. Please note that computers are replaced and purchased by and through ITS rather than individual departments or programs.
Departmental or program funds can also be used for a retreat (please see section on Departmental and Program Retreats) or to bring in outside speakers. There is no set amount for a guest speaker, but a typical honorarium is in the $100 to $200 range, depending on the individual circumstances. Honoraria over $1,500 require approval from the Dean and Vice Provost for Institutional Budget and Planning & Analytics; amounts in excess of $1,500 must be covered by restricted funds (for more info, see the University’s Honorarium Payments Policy). If the department or program would like to bring to campus a "big-name" person, it is a good idea to have the person give a public lecture. The Chair/Director can then ask the Dean's Office or other campus resources for additional support to help provide for a larger honorarium. USF full-time faculty and staff may not receive honoraria for being guest speakers in someone else's classroom or on campus. For your convenience, you may choose to use the CAS Honorarium Request Form, which includes information about processing payments.
When part-time faculty are paid for administrative or academic support, their payments come from the University Part-Time Faculty Salary Pool, charged back to the College.  All non-teaching assignments (NTA's) must be approved in advance by your Associate Dean and submitted through the Part-Time Faculty NTA Request Form.  NTA's are paid where we have recognized services to be performed for compensation, and include pay guidelines for a number of services.  Part-time faculty may also be eligible for honoraria (a voluntary payment given to a person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required) in the same range as for guest speakers, but since these too are paid from the Part-Time Faculty Salary Pool, unlike those for guest speakers, these must also be approved by the Associate Dean. 
Salaries for all departmental student workers (TAs, readers, office help, etc.) come out of the departmental budget.

The Chair/Director must approve all uses of departmental or program funds. S/he should use discretion and identify other University resources, such as the library, ITS, or CIT when appropriate. Each departmental program assistant is issued a P-card (credit card) that can be used to buy specific items (see the list at the Accounting & Business Services site). These purchases should be monitored by the Chair/Director prior to the program assistant making an order.

Periodically, the Chair/Director should update the faculty on the status of the budget at monthly meetings, especially if the department or program is on track to go over budget. In that case, the department or program should discuss ways to rein in expenses. It is not the case that departments or programs that fail to use their budget will receive a smaller allotment in the next year. Surpluses are used to address deficits in other areas of the college budget, and so chairs should not feel obliged to spend just to "use it up."

Major/Minor Fair

One method for recruiting new students is participation in the Major/Minor Fair. This event occurs during the Fall semester; an e-mail is sent in advance inviting faculty to participate. Each department and program is assigned a table; it should be staffed with faculty who can answer questions posed by potential majors and minors. It is important to have a supply of handouts for the students, listing the courses needed to complete the major/minor and potential job areas for graduates. It is also a good idea to ask one or two current major/minor students to come and talk with prospective majors/minors.

Advising Undeclared Students

An excellent way to recruit for the department or program is to advise undeclared students. If you are interested in pursuing this, contact the Center for Academic and Student Achievement (CASA).

Introductory Core Courses, First-Year Seminars, and Students in Transition Seminars

Many departments and programs have found that introductory courses that fulfill a Core requirement are an excellent means for recruiting new students. First-Year Seminars or Students in Transition seminars are also excellent ways to publicize majors and programs to incoming students, and departments are strongly encouraged to consider offering them.

Advising is a time-intensive process, but one that can be extremely valuable for both faculty and students. It is an opportunity to provide mentorship and guidance, and a primary way in which students receive one-on-one interaction with faculty. Advisors and advisees work together to create a challenging, comprehensive and realistic academic plan based on the advisee's interests and the requirements of the major.
Students are responsible for:

  • Understanding their reasons for going to college
  • Thinking carefully about choosing a major
  • Making their own decisions based upon informed judgment
  • Arranging advising appointments well before it is time to register for classes
  • Preparing for advising meetings by bringing a draft of their class schedule
  • Asking relevant academic questions
  • Seeking out information related to planning their academic career
  • Becoming knowledgeable about services available on campus
  • Understanding degree and program requirements

Faculty Advisors are responsible for:

  • Proactively engaging advisees in the academic planning process
  • Helping to develop their 4-year plan to stay on track for graduation
  • Referring students to WebTrack, the College's on-line advising tutorial
  • Monitoring the academic progress of their advisees
  • Making effective referrals to other campus offices
  • Communicating clearly to their advisees the regular times during which they are available for consultation

In addition to advising, the department chair or program director is responsible for:

  • Recruiting faculty for orientation and advising events
  • Serving on or facilitating the selection of faculty members for formal grade appeal panels.
  • Working with CASA to determine the academic status of students within their department/major, such as probations and academic disqualifications

The College is responsible for:

  • Assuring that there are clear policies, procedures, and resources to support the advising process
  • Supporting faculty members in the development of effective advising skills
  • Providing appropriate recognition for the role that faculty members play in the academic advising system
  • Conducting ongoing assessment of the advising program
  • Coordinating advising and registration for all new incoming students

Some students are easy to advise because they come prepared, know which courses they need and want to take, and ask the right questions. The more challenging students are those who are less well-informed and expect their advisor to make choices for them. Webtrack has been developed to address this exact issue. New students are required to take the Webtrack tutorial before registering. Another way to help students is to create handouts with checklists and "Frequently Asked Questions" specific to your department, so that faculty members do not need to repeat the same information to every student. The department can also use its website to help students with advising issues even before they show up at an advisor's door.

Faculty advising loads can become a sensitive issue, particularly for departments or programs with a very large number of majors and minors. For equitable distribution of advising across faculty, the Chair/Director may send out an email well in advance of the advising days/weeks and indicate the expectation for number of hours posted for advising during the semester and number of days expected for pre-semester advising.
The PA should maintain a list of all faculty and their advisees. As new majors are added, they should be assigned to faculty with fewer advisees. It will sometimes be the case that students may wish to change advisors. Before switching that student to another advisor, the PA should check with the new advisor to make sure that s/he is able to take on a new advisee.

New faculty usually shadow a more senior member of the department for the first semester, then are assigned first- or second-year students to advise, rather than transfer students, who tend to present greater challenges.

The Chair/Director may be asked by students to sign a Petition to Enroll at Another Institution (PEAI) form. For example, s/he may wish to study abroad or take a summer course at a different institution. When a student comes to the Chair/Director with this request, the first step is to have the student bring the PEAI form with course info and descriptions to a staff member in the Transfer Center, located in Lone Mountain 251. The Transfer Center staff will determine whether the course(s) will transfer to USF. Students intending to study abroad should meet with the Center for Global Education first to determine if they are eligible to participate. Students are not permitted to study abroad during their senior year. Courses taken abroad can include CORE, language, electives, and, if departmental or program policy permits it, major and minor requirements. If courses taken abroad are to be counted towards a student's major or minor, the Chair/Director should review the course descriptions and select the appropriate USF course equivalency, and the Associate Dean will note that officially on the PEAI form before approving it. The Chair/Director should be mindful of the USF residency requirement for majors and minors. Specifically, all students must complete a minimum of 16 upper division units at USF for their major(s), and at least half of their units for their minor(s) at USF. Study abroad courses do not count towards the residency requirement.
For other PEAI requests, the courses taken elsewhere ideally should be electives; they should not count towards CORE, language, or major and minor requirements. In addition, each student is required to take their last 30 units before graduation at USF. However, there are possible exceptions to both of these restrictions. For example, it may be the case that a student must take a course in their major that is not offered at USF during a semester, or the student may need the course or units to graduate on time. If the Chair/Director feels that this is appropriate, s/he may grant permission for this. If the Chair/Director is unsure about whether the exception is appropriate or not, s/he should check with the appropriate Associate Dean.

Students may request from the Chair/Director a substitution/waiver of a requirement in the CORE, major or minor. The Chair/Director may ask the student to submit a course catalog description and/or a course syllabus for an equivalent class taken elsewhere. If the Chair/Director deems the transfer course to be equivalent to a requirement in the CORE, major or minor, they may approve the substitution. Waivers are only granted if a student has demonstrated equivalent experience. For example, students can be waived from a language requirement if they achieved a minimum score on the placement test exam. Chairs/Directors may only sign substitution/waiver forms for courses in their major, minor or CORE area. Approved substitution/waiver forms are sent to the Associate Dean for final approval. S/he will ensure that the forms are processed with the Graduation Center after the students file a grad check. Regardless of any substitution/waivers that are granted, students are still required to complete the 128 minimum units for graduation, and the minimum units required for the CORE, their major(s), and their minor(s) (if applicable).

Students who have either not decided on a major or have not been admitted to a major are referred to as "undeclared." They are assigned an advisor in either an arts or a sciences department. The general catalog is a good resource for undeclared students. Departments and programs may also construct handouts describing the major(s) and minor(s) and course offerings for undeclared students. Undeclared students are required to declare their major after completing 48 units. If an undeclared student is still undecided about a major, the Chair/Director can advise him/her to continue taking CORE courses and other electives. The Chair/Director can also send undeclared students to the Center for Academic and Student Achievement for further guidance and assistance.

Please refer to the Student Conduct, University Standards, Policies and Procedures section of the Fogcutter Student Handbook for information on the process for handling issues around academic dishonesty.

Referrals for student/faculty and student/student complaints are made to the Center for Academic and Student Achievement. The parties involved are consulted in an attempt to find an amicable solution. As the complaints are handled on a case-by-case basis, chairs may or may not be consulted.

Please see the University Catalog for a description of the process. The Chair/Director may initially contact the Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Student Services for consultation and support.

Please see the Policy Against Unlawful Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation for a complete description of the University's policy. The Chair/Director should report any conduct of which s/he has direct knowledge and that s/he believes constitutes harassment in violation of University policy. The Chair/Director may initially contact the Associate Dean or the Dean about the matter, or s/he may directly contact one of the University's designated and trained intake officers. They are:

  • Center for Academic and Student Achievement, Student Life; University Center, 3rd Floor; Charlene Lobo Soriano, University Advisor, 415-422-6841
  • Human Resources; Lone Mountain, Room 339; Diane Nelson, Director of Human Resources, 415-422-6707

All correspondence from parents should be directed to the Dean of Academic Student Services. In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, all information pertaining to a student, such as their performance, enrollment, grade, or attendance is considered confidential. Faculty, including Chairs and Directors, should not share any of this information with any other person, including parents, other relatives, or friends, unless the student has provided written permission to share this information with those people.

We strongly encourage departments and programs who do not have bylaws to create them, and those who do have bylaws to periodically revisit and review them. Elements typically found in bylaws include: program mission; membership and governance (who attends meetings; voting vs. non-voting members; decision-making procedures; meeting frequency and procedures); department chair (how selected; term; responsibilities); standing committees (what they are; how they are populated); curriculum decisions (how these are made and by whom); and procedures for amending bylaws. Bylaws should be housed in a place that is easy for faculty members to access, and should not conflict with the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Office of the Dean, College of Arts & Sciences


2130 Fulton St. Kalmanovitz Hall 180 San Francisco, CA 94117