Chapter 5: Chair Interaction with Academic Dean, Vice Provost and the Provost


Being a successful chair requires vision and passion - and a little creativity. First and foremost, a chair must possess a keen sense of vision:

  • Where is the department today?
  • Where does it need to be in the future?

The department's program review should be one of the crucial places where these questions are explored. These questions are addressed in  the program review are revisited each year through the Integrated Annual Report.

Vision plays a critical role in hiring decisions as the future of the department is shaped by the faculty who teach its classes and advise its students. Vision also governs short-term and long-term decisions regarding curriculum matters.

Passion for the department and its program helps the chair inspire the faculty of the department to continually improve courses, curriculum and advising. Additionally, passion fuels the chair's resolve to make hard decisions and lead the department.

Problem solving relies on creativity: can the chair come up with possible solutions to challenges and opportunities facing the department? Can the chair consider the needs of their department as well as others, collaborating with their peers and 'give and take' where appropriate?

Interaction with the Academic Dean

The academic dean has the broad perspective of strengths, needs, and opportunities within and between the academic departments. Accordingly, the academic dean plays several important roles, including but not limited to:

  • Leadership, Planning, Communication
  • Coordinate planning for department assessment and promote best practices
  • Read annual reports and prepare division executive summary; respond to department chairs with questions or concerns regarding the reports
  • Facilitate work on the strategic plan as it relates to academic departments/programs
  • Promote interdisciplinary faculty work, interdepartmental/cross-divisional alliances, and  interdisciplinary programs
  • Schedule and organize chair meetings
  • Promote opportunities for partnerships between chairs and program directors with the external world
  • Work with department chairs on department budget issues
  • Assist the department chair with student issues or problems
  • Assist the department chair with issues or problems within the department or between faculty
  • Encourage, facilitate course innovation
  • Monitor course planning and scheduling
  • Provide insight on the department hiring plan and request(s)
  • Monitor and promote participation in the Common Curriculum
  • Work with the assistant dean for the Common Curriculum  to assess the Common Curriculum as a whole and in parts

Essentially, the chair should consult with the academic dean on issues and opportunities. The vice provost and the provost rely upon input from the academic dean in decision making. In addition, the academic dean has a broader perspective of activities across curriculum, which can be highly valuable in problem solving. An effective department chair partners with the academic dean as creative problem solvers, i.e. what possible ways can they imagine to solve this issue and meet everyone's needs?  The academic dean is an advocate for the chair and his/her department.

The academic dean will hold meetings of chairs and/or all faculty as appropriate to carry out academic affairs business. Meetings may include all department chairs, divisional department chairs, or various subsets of department chairs as necessary.

For additional areas needing interaction with division heads, see Chapter 2, Course Offerings subsection; Chapter 4, Problems with Department Faculty Members subsection; Chapter 6, Travel subsection; and Chapter 7, Authorization to Hire and Campus Interviews subsections.

Chairs are required to provide a number of reports to Academic Affairs officers:

  • Staffing reports, including hiring requests (by June 1st)
  • Annual reviews of probationary faculty (by June 30th)
  • Annual department reports (by June 30th)
Interaction with the Vice Provost

The vice provost oversees hiring, the tenure and promotion process, and academic centers. The vice provost serves on the Strategic Directions Council and on Cabinets at both institutions. The vice provost plays a significant role in strategic planning for Academic Affairs. Chairs should consult with the vice provost for such issues as:

  • Hiring process for faculty and staff
  • Work with various academic centers
  • Work between academic departments and other institutional units
  • Tenure and promotion process
  • Academic initiatives that involve wider institutional participation
Hiring process

The hiring process is described in Chapter 7. Chairs need to keep one critical thing in mind: CSB/SJU wants each search to be professional and thorough - and to lead to the hiring of a wonderful faculty member, one who will hopefully have successful third year and tenure reviews. Accordingly, a failed search is preferred over a bad hiring decision. 

Annual reviews of probationary faculty

Chapter 4 addresses the mentoring of department faculty. Evaluations are an important element in the development of probationary faculty. Chairs need to be honest in their feedback and provide clear recommendations that the probationary faculty member can address. Annual reviews of probationary faculty are required to be submitted to the Vice Provost's Office by June 30th.

Integrated Annual Report (IAR)

Annual reports fit into a continuum that stems from the program review. Each program review seeks to answer four fundamental questions:

  1. What are the current strengths and weaknesses of the program?
  2. On the basis of what evidence have these strengths and weaknesses been identified?
  3. What steps can the program take to sustain and build upon its current levels of success?
  4. How can the institutions better support the program in fulfilling its mission?

The work of a good program review results in a number of goals that address these questions. A solid assessment process provides continuing input to departments on progress made in curricular and pedagogical improvements - and changes needed. The primary purpose of the department annual report, then, is to provide an update as to goal accomplishments and the challenges that have arisen. It draws upon the periodic program reviews and annual assessment efforts as well as other sources of information. The Academic Policies, Standards and Assessment Committee has developed integrated reporting procedures for the Annual Report that recognize the inter-related nature of program review, assessment and annual departmental reflection.

The Integrated Annual Report is submitted to the Academic Dean's office by June 30.

Provost's Role

The provost is responsible for leading the academic life of the institution and is the chief academic officer for the College and University. The provost holds a weekly staff meeting with key staff, including the vice provost, academic dean, the associate dean and the academic budget analyst. These staff meetings cover the 'nuts and bolts' business of the academic mission of our colleges. Opportunities, challenges, and issues that chairs would like to see addressed at this level should be raised by the chairs to the academic dean.

The provost plays an important role in the third year review, tenure, and promotion decision process, providing guidance to the presidents based on the recommendations of the Rank and Tenure Committee. The provost considers carefully the evaluations and recommendations for third year review, tenure, and promotion made by department chairs. The general process for the tenure and promotion process is first, peer review (departmental and R&T committee), second is provost review, third is presidential review, and finally the Board review.

As the chief academic officer, the provost is the final decision for all areas of Academic Affairs. However, department chairs work with the delegates of the provost (such as the assistant dean, associate dean, academic dean, vice provost, registrar, or center directors) before meeting with the provost.

Chairs' Meetings

Chairs should attend the scheduled chairs' meetings and report decisions/actions to department members in a timely fashion. If the chair is unable to attend a scheduled meeting, the chair should designate someone from the department to attend in his/her place.

Selection of Chair

The term for chair is typically 3 years with opportunity for renewals. The process of chair review begins in the current chair's third year, initiated by the academic dean. In consultation with the chair, the department participates individually or collectively. The academic dean oversees the process. An appointment as chair is by the president, on recommendation of the provost.

Last updated:  September 2013