Department Chairs

Department Chair Handbook

 Announcements and Action Items (Posted 9/15/17):

  1. As per HLC request, we will be needing an updated curriculum vitae and syllabus from all faculty. We are working on creating an electronic mechanism to do this but it is not yet ready. If you could notify your colleagues that this request is coming (and may allow for some preparation if necessary), I will let you know when it is ready for upload.

You may or may not recall, we asked departments last year to discuss and turn in their definitions of rigor and the difference between 100, 200, and 300-level courses. APSAC kindly collected and collated these definitions to create a definition. We plan to add this to the next academic catalog to help clarify for faculty, students, and parents the expectations of our leveled coursework. It would be helpful if you can review these definitions and provide feedback specifically on how this might impact your coursework. It would be helpful to get this feedback to Jean Lavigne who will discuss this with the Senate by the end of the semester. I have attached the definitions.


  1. Attached please find five broad and holistic institutional learning outcomes for undergraduate students at CSB/SJU. The outcomes describe what we expect (and hope) our students will be able to do upon graduation.  Together, they strengthen and unite several of the objectives outlined in Strategic Directions 2020, in particular "Liberal Arts for Life," "Holistic and Transformational Development of Women and Men" and "Inclusive and Engaging Catholic and Benedictine Experience."


The institutional learning goals we now cite include separate and even disconnected student development and curricular outcomes.  While the attached institutional learning outcomes reflect current student development and academic goals, they provide a more holistic and integrative set of commitments and objectives defining what we want our students to achieve and experience academically and in their co-curricular activities.


We ask you to review these outcomes and verify whether they capture what you do in your area. Are the expectations and goals you have for our students embedded in these learning outcomes? If not, what is missing? We request this feedback by early November. This feedback can be sent directly to me. Stakeholders in Student Development and additional offices will be answering these questions as well.


  1. Attached is a draft of an assessment plan for the Common Curriculum goals for the next several years. This was designed based on conversations with chairs last year and previous annual reports. I would like your feedback, in particular, regarding the disciplinary departmental and divisional goals. Does this seem approachable and feasible? I will be working with Emily Esch to finalize these plans moving forward for as long as the Common Curriculum is implmented. Please also note, there is flexibility moving forward. For example, if the division decided in two years to assess goal 2 instead of goals 3, that is okay (it will just be hepful to communicate this with the Academic Asssessment and Effectiveness office and the director of the Common Curriculum so the map can be altered). Your feedback would be appreciated by the end of October.


  1. As a reminder, the process and structure of the annual report has changed to hopefully be less time-intensive and more meaningful. Instructions and templates for the reports can be found on the Office of Academic Assessment and Effectiveness webpage. Departments were asked to complete a Report on the Action Plan by the end of June 2017. I wanted to remind you that your Program Assessment Report (PAR) is due November 15th. hopefully this delay in submission will give departments and programs time to discuss the assessment data and results to then “close the loop” and make any changes or decisions that will enhance student learning. In addition, any assessment of the Common Curriculum that is completed within the department is due as part of the General Education Assessment Report (GEAR) on February 15th. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Carie Braun, Director of the Office of Academic Assessment and Effectiveness.




  1. Annual Faculty Evaluations: Attached is a revised faculty evaluation form that is aligned with the Faculty Handbook


  1. Annual Report: APSAC, AAE, and Academic Affairs have been working together to create a more efficient and effective Annual Report. We all felt at this point it would be extremely valuable to get your input. Attached are several components for your review:


                                                    i.     DRAFT of the new SEAL (now referred to as the PASS) which describes the three smaller reports that replace the Annual Report and Program review.

                                                  ii.     A rubric used to evaluate Assessment data (for the Program Assessment Report and the General Education Assessment Report)

                                                iii.     A summary and timeline of those reports that replace the Annual Report.

                                                iv.     This is a link of an example webpage that would be a place for storing and providing access to assessment and action plan information for each program:


Your input will be helpful. We can devote some time at the meeting to discuss your initial thoughts on the changes. In addition (because this is on short notice), please feel free to provide input electronically to APSAC, AAE, or AA.  


  1. Position Request Form and discussion of process


Nominations for Professor Emerita/Emeritus and Alumna/Alumnus - due by January 23, 2018

The chair’s letter to nominate is similar to a letter for a colleague nominated for the teaching award or promotion to full. Academic Affairs will also review our colleagues’ c.v., and therefore chairs do not need to summarize everything, but highlight those characteristics and contributions that lead to the nomination for the honorary title. Often the chair’s letter provides key information and phrasing used in the commendation read at the May faculty appreciation day.

From the September 2015 Faculty Handbook:                    Professor Emerita/us

This rank may be assigned to associate professors or professors who have limited or terminated their responsibilities as a faculty member for valid reasons (e.g., retirement, illness) after 15 or more years of distinguished and meritorious service to the college [university].

The title professor emerita/us is an honorary one and does not affect salary or fringe benefits that might be involved in any part-time, per-course contract between the individual and the college [university].  Appointees will have their names recorded at this rank in the catalog during the remainder of their lifetimes.                    Professor Alumna/us

The honorary title of professor alumna/us may be assigned to a faculty member with 15 or more years of service at the college who is not given the title professor emerita/us and who voluntarily leaves employment with the college. Appointees will have their names recorded at this rank in the catalog during the remainder of their lifetimes.



   Suggestions for Departmental Assessment Budget Lines: 

  • National exams
  • Fees for survey instruments
  • Faculty travel to attend or present at an assessment conference or workshop
  • Travel, honorarium, and/or lodging for a consultant or speaker focusing on assessment
  • Books/book groups on assessment
  • Stipends for summer assessment work (using a rubric to evaluate student work in order to assess progress toward learning goals), following FDRC guidelines for amounts
  • Data analysis software
  • Design and print brochures to describe skills students develop in the major
  • Incentives for students to complete surveys or other activities may include refreshments; gift certificates are taxable and other prizes may be taxable depending on the nature and value - consult with business office if you are considering certificates or prizes
  • Funding of interal workshops on pedagogy and assesment of student learning




Talk to your coordinator early and often to discuss the tasks necessary to the success of your area. Ask them how they prefer to work (meetings by appointment, email, phone, etc.). How much lead time is ideal for larger tasks? Are there tasks they actually prefer to do on their own, which you can then delegate to them? Schedule collaborative work time for projects that you need to do together.


The Chairs’ Handbook (see above) gathers together key passages from the Faculty Handbook and incorporates other timelines and advice. It may be helpful to make a timeline with your coordinator to add to the dates given by the Registrar; transcribe big dates to your calendar (FDRC letter due dates, R&T letter dates, reminders to observe faculty, annual events in your department, midterm grade due-dates, etc.).


CC. the coordinator on important emails, and/or have brief “check-in” meetings by phone or in person weekly or as needed. Review the job description of your coordinator so you know what is expected of him or her. This will also help you know which information/deadlines/emails need to be shared. Some things will come directly to you, and only to you, so check the “cc.” and forward, if necessary.

Watch your own stress level, not as something to be afraid of (What have I let myself in for?!), but as information – stress should invite a review of tasks at hand and delegation to coordinator, other faculty, or another office (maybe even the dean’s!). Work ahead of deadlines so you can get the help you need without creating panic for your coordinator/colleagues.



Consider asking a former chair, even from another department, to serve as an unofficial, confidential sounding board. Or form a “chair’s advisory council” within your department to serve as a consultative or representative group. Some matters will not require full departmental discussion, but an advisory group can help ensure that you’ve looked at an issue from multiple perspectives. If you have any questions about which tasks can be delegated, and which must be done by you as official chair / program director, get in touch with the dean’s office.