UAF Department Chair Policy

The following is a complete copy of the policy defining the role and duties of the department chair and establishing the procedures for the election of department chairs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as passed by the UAF Faculty Senate at its Meeting #21 (October 15, 1990) and #23 (December 17, 1990) and modified by the Chancellor. Further modifications were made by the UAF Faculty Senate at its Meeting #71 (April 14, 1997) and approved by the Chancellor. The latest changes were made by the UAF Faculty Senate at its meeting #93 (March 6, 2000) and modified by the Chancellor on April 24, 2000.

The following is a description of the role and duties of the department chair, and procedures for the election of department chairs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The size and composition of departments and programs are defined by each individual college and school.


A. The department chair is the administrative and academic officer of the department and as such has the primary responsibility and authority for: (1) leadership in developing high quality academic programs which fulfill department, college, and university objectives; (2) leadership in the implementation of college and university policies and programs at the department level; (3) leadership in developing resource requests and an appropriate departmental budget; and (4) service on the college/school executive committee.

B. The department chair is first a faculty member. The department chair is primarily a teacher-scholar serving as a leader of his/her department colleagues. The department chair is a role model for faculty responsibility.

C. The department chair is responsible for providing mechanisms and processes for members' participation in discussion and decision making within the department. All members of the department should be informed of these mechanisms and processes. Regular meetings should be held for purposes of communicating information, discussing issues, and making decisions on department matters.

D. The department chair is expected to communicate faculty perspectives and concerns to the administration and other segments of the community as appropriate. The department chair is the primary spokesperson the faculty of the department. The department chair will also convey administration views and concerns to the faculty.


The department chair is responsible, either directly or by delegation, for performance of at least the specific duties enumerated below (the duties are not prioritized) which shall be performed in accordance with the extant collective bargaining agreements on the role and status of department chairs.

A. Academic Programs

1. Initiate, plan, oversee implementation of, and review the preparation and offering of the academic program, after appropriate involvement of members of the department and consultation with the dean.

2. Ensure interdepartmental coordination and cooperation.

3. Take leading role in ensuring academic program quality.

4. Ensure reports are prepared as needed. Ensure that course schedule are prepared in a timely manner.

5. Ensure catalog is current.

6. Supervise departmental office and ensure that files and records are maintained.

7. Keep the dean informed of departmental and faculty activities. Act as a liaison with the University community.

B. Personnel

1. Coordinate and evaluate professional activities of all members of the department, to include providing guidance to faculty concerning expectations regarding promotion and tenure. Request and obtain faculty activity reports as appropriate to this process.

2. Provide recommendations for appointments, promotion, sabbatical leaves, tenure, and release of faculty after consultation with members of the department.

3. Review and recommend to dean/director workloads as proposed by faculty members.

4. Take lead role in departmental faculty and staff recruitment and retention.

5. Provide for the management and supervision of support staff.

6. Appoint appropriate committees within the department.

7. Facilitate support for faculty teaching, research and service activities.

8. Function as spokesperson and advocate for the department, both within and outside the University community.

C. Students

1. Administer the departmental student advisement program and counsel students.

2. Recruit students in cooperation with other members of the department and the dean.

3. Act on student petitions.

4. Provide for the management of student assistants.

5. Address student concerns as appropriate.

D. Budget, Inventory, Facilities, Etc.

1. Initiate resource and budget requests with justifications.

2. Maintain fiscal control of departmental budgets.

3. Ensure upkeep of equipment and facilitie4s assigned to the department


A. Departments Involved

The procedures will apply to every unit that is considered a department.

B. Eligibility to Vote

All full-time faculty members holding academic rank who are affiliated with the department are eligible to vote. Visiting faculty who are in an academic rank position are eligible to vote.

A full-time faculty member currently holding academic rank is affiliated with a department if:

1) the chair of that department evaluates the faculty member or;

2) the chair of the department reviews the faculty member's workload agreement.

C. Eligibility to be Nominated and Serve as Department Chair

Only tenured members of a department who are eligible to vote are eligible to be nominated and serve as department chair. Only in exceptional circumstance, where the majority of the department faculty feel that options are severely limited, should there be deviation from this policy.

D. Procedures for Elections

1. By March 15, those faculty in the department who are eligible to vote will establish a list of nominees for department chair. The names of the nominees will be placed on an official secret ballot for the department and distributed from the dean's office to those faculty eligible to vote.

2. Faculty members eligible to vote but who are absent because of sabbatical leave, leave of absence, or for other official reasons will be provided with an absentee ballot.

3. Secret ballots are to be cast and. the person receiving a simple majority of the votes cast will be elected. In the case of a tie which cannot be resolved by the voters, the dean shall select the department chair from those faculty involved in the tie vote.

4. If no nominee receives a simple majority of the votes, a run-off election of the top two nominees shall be held immediately under the same procedures outlined above. The deadline for accepting ballots for the run-off election will be the last working day prior to April 15.

5. Departments and the provost will be notified of election results by May 15.

E. Term of Elected Department Chair

A department chair shall serve for a term of two years, beginning July 1, following his/her election. The department chair may continue in the position indefinitely by a simple majority of the voting faculty of the department.

F. Department Chair Disputes, Vacancies, and Recall

1. If an action of the department chair is appealed by a simple majority of the eligible voting members of the department and the issue cannot be resolved within the department, the matter shall be referred to the dean for arbitration. If necessary, the dean will refer the matter to the Provost. (See Section F 6 for recall procedure.)

2. If the department chair's position becomes vacant due to unexpected prolonged leave, illness, death, resignation, or other circumstances, the dean shall appoint a department faculty member to act as department chair. An election to fill this position will be held the following April 15.

3. The department chair shall appoint an acting department chair whenever their absence from the department is for a period of less than two months. If this absence extends beyond two months, the procedure defined in Section F. 2. above is to be followed.

4. Election of a new department chair may be requested by petition to the dean signed by three-quarters of the eligible voting members of the department or by the petition of the Dean to the department approved by 3/4's of the voting members of the department. After the election by the faculty [and ratification by the Dean], the new department chair will take office immediately and serve the unexpired term.

G. Acknowledgement for Department Chair Duties

A Department chair's duties may be acknowledged through release time, remuneration, and/or their service component of their faculty duties. Any acknowledgement must be agreed upon between the Department chair and the Dean and must be consistent with UAF and Board of Regent's policies and extant Collective Bargaining Agreements.

April 24, 2000

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