Transitions in the Office of Department Chair
CAS recommends an orderly process for facilitating transitions in departmental chair leadership.
- Length of Service. A three-year renewable term for department chairs is considered normative. This system has several merits. First, because the terms are renewable, this policy allows an effective chair to stay in office indefinitely with the approval of the department and CAS Dean . Experience indicates that departments tend to function better when an effective chair remains in office for relatively long periods of time. Frequent rotations of the leadership role tend to be counterproductive. Second, this policy permits a new chair to be selected without having to remove a current chair via relatively confrontational means. Third, this policy provides the chair with a natural time to resign should he or she be so inclined.
- Departmental Consensus. When there is a clear departmental consensus regarding who should be chair, the process of chair selection is quite simple. The department nominates one of its members as chair, and that person becomes chair if the Dean approves.
- Lack of Departmental Consensus. When there is not a clear departmental consensus regarding who should be chair, the department shall consult the dean for resolution. Ideally, the chair of the department should relay this message, but other members of the department may do so if it seems appropriate. Subsequently, the Dean (or Dean's designee) will hold a meeting with the department. The chair's attendance will be at the discretion of the Dean. The purpose of the meeting will be to determine who, in the eyes of the department and Dean, is best able to serve the department as chair for the future, and to determine an appropriate timeline for any needed change in leadership. The Dean will provide the department chair with a timely report on the outcome of the meeting, if the chair was not present at the meeting.
- Changes Initiated by the Dean. It should be understood that changes in departmental leadership can also be initiated by the Dean, in which case a similar process is appropriate Note that it is up to the Dean, rather than the department, to initiate the process.
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