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 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.
Chair and Director Role, Responsibilities, and Leadership
To Ensure Academic Excellence and Build Trust Through Collaborative Decision-Making.
- Dean's Note of Appreciation
- Responsibilities of the Dean's Office
- Responsibilities of Chair or Director
- Handling Day-to-Day Tasks
- Academic Leader of the Department
- Length of Term and Transition to New Chairs or Directors
- Contacts: Dean's Office Staff »
A Note of Appreciation
Thank you for taking on this important leadership position. Serving in this capacity demonstrates once again your commitment to your colleagues, students, the University, and your discipline. You will be providing an invaluable service to the University, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy the experience and find it enriching and rewarding. I look forward to working with you in your leadership role.
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Responsibilities of the Dean's Office
The areas in which the Dean's Office, rather than the Chair or Director, has final authorization are:
- Assigning courses and classrooms to faculty
- Hiring, evaluating and terminating faculty and staff
- Managing Program Assistants
- Assigning offices to faculty
- Setting faculty workload including approving course release or overload
- Evaluation of full-time faculty
- Granting faculty requests to be absent from class after Chair/Director approval
- Scheduling final exam times
- Approving student requests for course substitutions/waivers and PEAIs
This list of areas is not exhaustive. For any questions, please contact the Dean's Office.
Responsibilities of Chair/Director
Electing a Chair
As outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 25.3, the election of the Chair shall be by secret ballot and by a simple majority of members who are present to vote. The CBA is silent with respect to Program Directors; we strongly encourage programs to use the same process as outlined for chairs to elect directors.
Mentoring New Faculty
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
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.
During the interview, the Chair/Director should assess the course(s) the applicant could teach, strengths and weaknesses in teaching, and fit with the department or program and the University's mission. The Chair/Director should explain to the candidate that if the class they are scheduled for does not reach minimum enrollment numbers, it may be cancelled. The Chair/Director may ask the candidate to conduct a mock lecture and/or provide some other evidence of teaching effectiveness including submission of official teaching evaluations.
In 2015, HR and the CAS Dean’s office developed the following process for the onboarding of new part-time faculty. (This includes part-time faculty who have not worked at USF for at least 24 months.):
- Once a new adjunct is hired in HR system, a CWID and Banner record will be created within 48 hours.
- After Banner record is created, Instructional Operations enters new adjunct into the course schedule.
- Adjuncts will automatically receive access to University services 30 days before the start of their teaching assignment, including USF Connect, email, Canvas, and online library resources.
- Adjuncts must complete their new hire paperwork electronically and visit the Human Resources Office to complete their Form I-9 before their assignment begins and before a One Card is issued. Access with One Card begins no earlier than 30 days before the start of the assignment.
As part of this new on-boarding process, all recommended adjunct hires will need to submit a brief job application. Once the Chair/Director selects the adjunct to recommend to the Associate Dean, they should direct the adjunct candidate to apply to the appropriate private job posting. Postings are linked to the area and the term in which the new adjunct will be teaching:
The area Associate Dean may choose to interview the applicant and further explain the salary, obligations of the course, procedures for cancellation of the course, etc. The Associate Dean may also designate the Chair/Director to ensure that the adjunct understands the obligations of the course and procedures. 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 and instructed to complete new hire paperwork with HR. The official hiring of the applicant does not occur until the applicant completes all paperwork with HR. Once HR informs the Office of Instructional Operations, access to email and other ITS support (i.e. Canvas) will be requested and approved for the adjunct faculty. The department or program PA will ensure that the adjunct faculty have appropriate access to any necessary spaces.
Preferred Hiring Pool (PHP)
Please refer to the Part-time Faculty Association Collective Bargaining Agreement for complete information on the PHP.
Once an adjunct faculty member has a minimum of two years of service and 32 completed teaching units at USF, s/he is eligible to apply for inclusion in the PHP. PHP applications are accepted once per year, on or before February 15th. Specific requirements for PHP are outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement linked above. The application is evaluated by a committee of area Associate Deans and Assistant Deans in consultation with the Department Chair and/or Program Director. If the application is accepted, the adjunct faculty member is then considered a member of the preferred hiring pool. Please note that this designation is different than that of term faculty members, who are considered full-time faculty and are thus covered by full-time contractual rights and obligations. It is important that applicants understand that placement in the PHP does not establish the right of permanent part-time employment or any continued employment at the University. In addition, PHP appointments are made for a particular course(s) only.
There are several benefits to being in the PHP. PHP members are paid at a higher rate than non-PHP adjunct faculty, gain access to the University's retirement and medical plans (there are a limited number of slots available), receive life insurance, and are eligible for tuition remission. There is also a preference given to PHP members in regards to course assignment for those courses based on which applicants have been given PHP status. For example: adjunct faculty member A is high on the PHP list (has been in the PHP for many years). Adjunct faculty member B is low on the PHP list (has been in the PHP for a few years). Adjunct faculty member C is not in the PHP. Adjunct A would receive first choice of available sections that she is eligible to teach, followed by B, and finally C. In the case where Adjunct A's class is cancelled due to low enrollment, Adjunct A can then be assigned a course originally assigned to Adjunct C. This replacement can occur only if Adjunct faculty A has PHP status with respect to the course in question.
This process of reassigning faculty should take place more than 25 days before the first day of fall classes, or 14 days before the beginning of the spring semester, to minimize disruption.
Preferred Hiring Pool 2 (PHP 2)
Please refer to the Part-time Faculty Association Collective Bargaining Agreement for complete information on the PHP 2.
Once a PHP faculty has completed 80 units of adjunct teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences, they are eligible for consideration for PHP 2. Similar to the PHP application process, applications are accepted once per year on or before the deadline of February 15. Specific requirements and criteria are outlined in the CBA. Applications are evaluated by a committee of area Associate Deans and Assistant Deans in consultation with the Department Chair/Program Director.
Promotion is based on teaching excellence, collegiality, and support for department/program’s learning objectives and outcomes. Applicants denied PHP 2 status are eligible to reapply in two years.
PHP 2 grants an increase in per-unit compensation; no other additional benefits, including additional seniority rights, are provided.
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.
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 followup if there are concerns.
When the Chair/Director makes up the schedule, s/he can list courses to be taught by adjunct faculty with "Staff" (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), for a total of up to 24 units for the calendar year, regardless of where they are teaching in the University. In rare exceptions, an adjunct faculty member may be allowed to teach more than 8 units in a given semester. In order to allow this exception, the Chair/Director must first receive authorization from the Associate Dean who then seeks approval from the Provost's office. 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 class 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. 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 this deadline, 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". In an REC, the instructor receives pro-rated compensation at the rate of 10% per student up to Census day enrollment of 10, equivalent to the compensation that would accrue by conversion to multiple Directed Study courses described in Article 18.8 of the PT-CBA. (For example, a course of 7 students would be paid at 70%, 9 students at 90%, etc.) 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 Deans 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%.
Since converting courses to REC is a substitute for conversion to Directed Study courses, but is not at this time explicitly part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, conditions for its implementation may be subject to change.
Program Assistants and Other Staff
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 Director of Administrative Services 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.
In March of each year, the Chair/Director will be asked by the Director of Administrative Services to meet with the PA about his/her performance and fill out an evaluation that is sent to the Director of Administrative Services. 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 Director of Administrative Services to discuss performance and goals. This exact procedure may vary, so please be sure to follow the guidelines and deadlines provided by the Director of Administrative Services.
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 year to discuss performance.
PAs have set work schedules, typically from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, though alternative schedules may be approved by the Director of Administrative Services. There is no "time clock" to punch, but PAs are expected to be at work during those times. These times are contractually negotiated, and include a one-hour lunch break and two 15-minutes breaks. For more information about work schedules, please refer to the A&S Absence Procedure, updated by the Director of Administrative Services.
Although the Chair or Director oversees much of the activity of the departmental staff, the formal OPE Supervisor is the Director of Administrative Services. The Director of Administrative Services will rely on the input and judgment of the Chair and Director, but is ultimately responsible for hiring, formal evaluation, discipline, and termination.
The PA supervises the department's student workers.
Teaching Assistants (TAs)
The Chair/Director is entitled to make decisions regarding TAs for department or program faculty. Funding for TAs comes from the department or program's student budget, so decisions about how TAs are allocated should include a discussion with the faculty.
Domestic TAs may work up to twenty-five (25) hours per week while classes are in session and thirty-five (35) hours per week during academic breaks, summer session, and winter intersession. International students (F-1 or J-1 visa) may work up to twenty (20) hours per week while classes are in session and thirty-five (35) hours per week during academic breaks, summer session, and winter intersession. All student employees (TAs) are limited to 7.5 hours per day.
A faculty member must evaluate the skills of the TAs. Based on this evaluation, TAs can assist with in-class exercises and discussions. If appropriate, TAs can grade exams questions that do not require subjective evaluation, such as multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank. TAs should not grade essay questions, or any other work that requires subjective interpretation.
TAs may provide feedback to students during tutoring sessions. For instance, it is helpful to have the TAs go over the tests with the students, so students can better understand and improve their performance.
TAs may also schedule office hours and review sessions for exams.
Academic Program Review
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.
APR's Three Major Components:
- 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.
A Typical APR Timeline:
12 to 18 months before the APR Campus Visit
- 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.
6 to 12 months before the APR Campus Visit
- The fulltime 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 fulltime faculty gather relevant data and draft the Self Study document.
0 to 6 months before the APR Campus Visit
- The fulltime 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.
0 to 6 months after the APR Campus Visit
- 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 fulltime 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.
Assessment is a process of yearly, systematic review and evaluation of the curricula of academic programs in the College of Arts and Sciences.
All faculty participate in assessment, but it is the Chair/Director's responsibility (or designate) to make sure that the program:
- Has a clear mission statement that is posted on the program website.
- Has a set of observable, measurable program learning outcomes (PLOs) that are posted on university catalog and program websites.
- Submits a Yearly Assessment Report, according to the guidelines provided by the Office of Academic Effectiveness.
Information about assessment in the College, requirements and timelines for Yearly Assessment Reports, exemplary Yearly Assessment Reports, and resources for effective assessment of student learning can be found in the "Assessment" section of our Academic Effectiveness page.
Core Area Committee
If the department or program has courses that contribute to Areas A-F of the Core Curriculum, the Chair/Director will serve as a member (and possibly as Chair) of the relevant Core Area Committee, which includes Chairs/Directors of all the departments or programs that offer courses in the particular Core area. The six Core Area Committees do not include any members from the administration. The committee’s primary task is to review proposed courses that are requesting core designation and provide recommendations to the Core Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Associate Dean for Academic Effectiveness. Core Area Committees typically conduct their work via email but can be required to attend face to face meetings, should any need arise. In addition, among the chairs and directors serving on the Core Area Committee, one person serves as the Chair of the committee and is responsible for coordinating all tasks of the Core Area Committee. As chair of the core area committee, the person is also a member of the Core Advisory Committee. Chairing the Core Area and CAC membership happens as per a rotation plan. Please check the rotation plan on the Core Area Committee page to see when it's your department/program's turn.
Please check this calendar to see when it is your department/program's turn to be the chair of the core area and serve on CAC.
Departmental and Program Retreats
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.
Handling Day-to-Day Tasks
Managing the Departmental Budget
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 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 $50 to $150 range, depending on the individual circumstances. If there is a "big-name" person that the department or program would like to bring to campus, 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.
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.
Deficits and Surpluses
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."
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).
College meetings and committees
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.
Core Advisory Committee (CAC)
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.
Chairs/Directors should organize their department or program's schedule of classes well in advance with the assistance of the relevant faculty.
With the increase in student enrollment over the past several years and limited classroom space on campus, the College has adopted a policy governing the distribution of classes across days and times so that classroom utilization is maximized and courses amongst departments and programs are equally distributed.
Class Scheduling Cycles
There are three deadlines for submission of courses (an initial deadline and then two opportunities to change the schedule). Please refer to the chart below for the general timeframe.
|Semester||1st Draft Due to Dean's Office||Course Schedules are entered into Banner||2nd Draft/Changes Due to Dean's Office||Final Draft/Changes Due to Dean's Office|
|Summer/Fall||Mid/End of November||First drafts are entered into Banner — NO CHANGES can be made from 1st deadline through early/mid January.||Early/Mid January (notification will be sent once changes can be accepted).||Generally, beginning of the third week of February.|
|Intersession/Spring||Mid/End of May||First drafts are entered into Banner — NO CHANGES can be made from 1st deadline through early August.||Early August (notification will be sent once changes can be accepted).||Generally, beginning of the second week of September.|
Standard Time Slots
The University Registrar's Office maintains the Standard Class Schedule for the intersession, spring, summer, and fall terms. Department chairs should ensure that all classes utilizing a general inventory classroom space are scheduled within the standard allotted time for the number of units of the class. Requests to meet outside of standard time slots must go to the Associate Dean for approval — a rationale for the exception must be provided. If a class is being held in a department or program's own designated space (i.e. a lab or studio), classes do not have to conform to standard times; however, be mindful that students' schedules will generally follow standard times. Standard time slots for the fall/spring semester can be found here.
Chairs or directors should consult with their area Associate Dean before changing course caps to ensure that classrooms are utilized effectively.
Directed Study courses provide an opportunity for students to pursue advanced study in a specialized area beyond the department/program’s regular curriculum. Directed Study courses also provide a way of dealing with low-enrolled classes: instead of just cancelling a course due to low enrollment, students may be given an opportunity to take the class with the original instructor and syllabus, and satisfy the original course learning outcomes under a different course number. For courses taught by adjunct faculty, REC conversion may sometimes be used in place of Directed Study conversions (see the "Adjunct" section above for more information on REC, or Reduced Enrollment Courses). For more information about Directed Study courses, procedures, and compensation, see the Directed Study Course Guidelines page.
If a department or program has adjunct faculty, the Chair/Director should be acquainted with their seniority. Some will have Preferred Hiring Pool or Preferred Hiring Pool 2 status (see section on PHP) and therefore have preferential status to teach certain courses when they are available. The Chair/Director can obtain a ranked list of adjuncts with PHP from the Dean's office.
Classes are usually cancelled due to under-enrollment. In rare cases, classes may be cancelled due to a professor requiring an emergency leave. Once early registration is complete, the Associate Deans will look at enrollments and see what classes require greater enrollments. They will then discuss the situation with the Chair/Director. We also encourage Chairs/Directors to proactively contact the Associate Deans at the end of the early registration to discuss recruiting strategies for classes with low enrollments and plan alternative re-assignments for faculty with possible cancelled classes.
Only the Dean's Office may cancel a class. The decision as to whether to cancel a class will consider enrollment, as well as other factors such as potential impact on students' graduation, limited space or lack of alternative classes. Before a class is cancelled, the Manager of Instructional Operations will ask the department or program PA to contact the students and notify them of the cancellation and possible alternative courses.
Faculty Accommodation Requests
If a faculty member contacts you with a request for a classroom accommodation due to a temporary or permanent disability, please direct them to Human Resources. HR will request documentation, and, if an accommodation is granted, will notify the Dean's Office who will assign a room accordingly. Please note: the University does provide a shuttle services for those who may need assistance getting around campus. Shuttle service information can be found at USF Shuttle Services.
Scheduling Strategies and Best Practices
- It is important to pay attention to student needs and make sure that the required classes typically taken in the same semester do not conflict.
- Departments and programs should consider developing a system in which all faculty have an opportunity to teach their most-desired courses and also share in the burden of teaching less-desirable courses.
- Flexibility is important. The schedule will change between the first and final submission for many reasons.
- In determining what courses to offer in a semester, the chair/director should ensure a mix of upper- and lower-division classes, ensure that all major requirements are offered on a regular basis, and account for the availability of faculty to teach these classes.
- When classes are cancelled, a "domino" effect can occur. When the class is taught by a full-time faculty member, s/he will then need to find something else to teach, potentially displacing an adjunct. If the course is taught by an adjunct with PHP status, s/he may have the opportunity to displace another adjunct with less seniority. This can potentially be very disruptive; keeping a careful eye on enrollments early can mitigate some disruption.
Academic Leader of the Department or Program
When necessary, the Chair/Director leads the department or program in reviewing and revising the department's course offerings. To learn more about the overall curriculum review process, and the role of departments and department chairs within that process, see our Curriculum Review Process page. Changes to curriculum, including proposals for new courses and programs, changes to existing courses and programs, and deactivation or reactivation of courses, are done through Curriculog.
Deactivating or reactivating courses
The Chair/Director should periodically review the course offerings and propose eliminating courses from the catalog that are not being taught at regular intervals. Normally, a course should remain in the catalog only when it is taught at least once every three years, and most courses should be offered at a higher frequency.
Proposing new courses and changes to existing courses
Departments and programs own the initial approval process for courses, as they are the subject matter experts. The process for approving courses is as follows:
- Faculty will submit proposals for new courses, and changes to the Chair or Program Director, who will share it with full-time faculty of the department/program, typically for discussion at a department/program meeting.
- For new courses, the proposal will include a rationale for the course and a course description for the catalog that follows the CAS Course Title and Description Guidelines. The remaining required items can be viewed in Curriculog.
- For changes to courses, the proposal will include a rationale for the course change and updated course description that follows the CAS Course Title and Description Guidelines.
- The proposal for new or changed course must be accompanied by a syllabus that contains all the elements included on the CAS Syllabus Guidelines page.
- The proposal will be discussed, evaluated and voted on by the department/program full-time faculty via departmental meeting or email; department/program approval pertains to the course as well as any proposed course designations (e.g., Core, Community Engaged Learning [CEL, formerly Service Learning], and/or Cultural Diversity [CD]).
- Once the proposal has been approved at the department/program level, the proposing faculty member will submit the proposal through Curriculog.
Proposing a new program and changes to the existing program
The Department Chair or Program Director, with the approval of the full-time faculty in the department or program, will submit any proposed program changes or proposals for new programs through Curriculog. See our Programs page for more information.
Recruiting New Students
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.
Faculty Absence from Class
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
See the Faculty Search: Full-Time page for more information.
Tenure and Promotion
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 RAs or TAs) 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.
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 Load
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 Advisors
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.
Petition to Enroll at Another Institution (PEAI)
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.
Student Complaints and Personal Issues
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.
Sexual Harassment or Other Unlawful Harassment
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.
Length of Term and Transition to New Chairs or Directors
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'ed on emails regarding scheduling, discussing long-term department goals, attending a meeting of Arts Council or COSEC, and so on.
Contractual Language Regarding the Role of the Chair
The relevant text from the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT, ARTICLE 25, DEPARTMENT CHAIRS
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