Department heads play central roles in the hiring of new faculty members. Normally, they must respond to the requests of the Dean for information about both faculty replacements and new positions. The Dean usually requests this information early in the fall semester, one year prior to the actual start-up date for the new faculty member. When the Dean receives permission from the Academc Vice President to begin the search, the department heads then structure the hiring process. Department heads may chair screening committees themselves or appoint committee chairs. If department heads choose the latter option, the appointed committee should work with the department head to choose members of the screening committee, or department heads may perform that function alone. The committee’s membership should reflect the department’s diversity.
Department heads must ensure that position announcements and descriptions are routed through the Office of Vice President and that they reach key audiences. The Office of Vice President will ensure that the University System Clearinghouse is informed of the opening. The Clearinghouse then sends the position announcement to persons who have registered with it and who have the basic credentials based on the described position. The department may only review the credentials of candidates who officially apply between the date of the position announcement and the final date by which letters of application must be sent.
About the candidates they desire to interview, and the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs/Multicultural Affairs reviews the candidate pool before the final candidates are scheduled for interviews. Once that process is complete, the department head will submit the list of candidates for interview to the Dean. After the department head receives permission to interview candidates, the committee chair may call the candidates to schedule interviews. Formats of all schedules for interviews should be identical. Following the interviews, the department will submit the name of its preferred candidate to the Dean. When all parties agree on the person and the proposed salary, the department head will call the candidate to make an informal offer. Any disagreement with the offered salary must be referred to the Dean and Academic Vice President for resolution. Following agreement on the terms of the position, the Academic Vice President will write a letter containing the formal offer to the successful candidate.
Hiring of full-time temporary faculty should follow this same process. These applicants should know that their positions are temporary and will terminate at the end of a given academic year.
Hiring of part-time faculty members normally falls primarily upon the shoulders of department heads. They should consult with other faculty members about possibilities for the position. Possible candidates should complete the full employment packet, including procurement of transcripts. All part-time faculty members should receive the Part-Time Faculty Handbook and should maintain regular contact with the department head during the semester.
Hiring of staff is normally the responsibility of department heads, but it is important that the candidates meet at least several other members of the department. Department heads will receive a list of eligible persons from the Office of Human Resources and should interview several who look like good possibilities for the department. Following interviews, department heads request permission to hire a candidate. They also play the key role in hiring graduate assistants and student assistants. Departmental secretaries likely will share responsibilities for hiring work-study students.
Department heads may request reassigned time for faculty members in any semester. The faculty member should complete the Reassigned Time Request Form, and the department head will sign and submit this form to the Dean. Near the end of the relevant semester, the faculty member must submit the Reassigned Time Interim Form to the department head who submits it to the Dean, explaining how the faculty member has used the time. Finally, the faculty member must complete the Reassigned Time Final Report one year after the completion of the semester during which he or she received the reassigned time.
Department heads must also review all requests from faculty members for Faculty Development Grants or Faculty Research Grants to ensure that Travel Authorization Forms are included with any requests for travel funds. All of these packets then go on to the Dean.
In addition, department heads will review and send all requests for Leave with Pay and Leave Without Pay to the Dean. Heads also may select departmental candidates for the Regents’ Distinguished Faculty. An announcement of this prestigious award will appear in early fall.
Department heads or directors ensure that student evaluations are completed for all departmental courses. The College of Arts and Sciences has a formal and structurally standard evaluation instrument, but each department develops its own questions. After the end of a semester, department heads or directors send to the Computer Center all bubble sheets for all courses. When the reports return to the department, the department heads must share results with faculty. Honors courses and Perspectives courses have their own evaluation forms. A department may have students complete these forms in addition to or as replacements for departmental forms. Off-campus courses should be evaluated with the same instrument utilized within a department. The one exception is King’s Bay: the administration of the programs at King’s Bay requires a common but different instrument for all undergraduate courses.
Department heads write annual evaluations of all full-time faculty members within their departments, evaluations which must note appropriate steps toward promotion and tenure. Where appropriate, they also must note any recommendations from both pre-tenure reviews and post-tenure reviews. Faculty members submit self-evaluations on which part of their evaluations are based. Department heads have faculty members read and sign these annual evaluations and afterward send them to the Dean. Department heads also propose merit pay for each tenure-track faculty member, merit pay which should correlate well with the annual evaluation. These proposed figures must receive the agreement of the Dean, Vice President, and President before department heads inform faculty members.
Department heads will review all applications for Graduate Faculty Membership, including applications for renewals. They then write evaluative letters and send all supporting documents to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Dean of the Graduate School awards such memberships, with the approval of the Graduate Executive Committee. Department heads requesting temporary appointments to the Graduate Faculty should contact the Dean of the Graduate School.
Department heads also structure the processes for pre-tenure, tenure and promotion, and post-tenure reviews. Departmental personnel committees evaluate and offer advice on each such review. Department heads review each application as well as the recommendations and letters written by the departmental committee. They then write a separate letter and recommendation and forward all material, including all recommendations, to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences—after they inform the faculty member of the department’s and department head’s decisions and brief him or her on the process of appeal, if necessary. The College of Arts and Sciences’ Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures addresses all procedures for both promotion and tenure. The VSU Faculty Senate has established the parameters and criteria for pre-tenure and post-tenure reviews. However, the College of Arts and Sciences adopted more specific criteria for the post-tenure reviews in its guidelines, “Post-tenure Review: College of Arts and Sciences.” VSU’s “Post-tenure Review Implementation/Priority Plan” complements these guidelines. Both are available to all faculty, department heads, and directors, who may obtain them through the Dean’s office.
Department heads should maintain a personnel file on all faculty and staff. This file should include all annual evaluations written since the employee arrived at VSU. It also should include results of all other personnel actions, including pre-tenure reviews, post-tenure reviews, tenure applications, promotion applications, and applications for graduate-faculty status. (Many department heads file hard copies of reports of the chair of promotion and tenure committees as well as of their own recommendations; they retain full applications on disks.) Also in the file should be reports of any mediation services conducted by department heads or directors, involving both conflicts between students and faculty and those between or among professional colleagues. In addition, department heads should file original applications for employment to answer possible questions of receipt of degrees, immigration status, social security numbers, etc. Finally, many department heads and directors maintain files of commitment-to-memory memos, summarizing informal conversations and mediations.
When completing cover sheets for faculty recommended for promotion and tenure, department heads should note that “number of years at institution” and “years in present rank and title at the institution” include the current year. For example, if faculty were hired in 1997 and apply for promotion in Fall 2001, they are in their fifth year at VSU. Also, note that the appropriate response to items which call for recommendations of either the promotion or tenure review committees is “recommended.” The department heads should complete only the “departmental level” item as well as the summary at the end of the page, the latter within the space provided. They should provide both hard copies and electronic copies of cover sheets to the Dean.
One way to insert a checked box on the Promotion Cover Sheet is to delete the box character on the form, and with the cursor in the desired location, click on “Insert,” select “Symbol,” select “Wingdings,” and click on the symbol for the checked box, which may be on the end row, next to last. Then one should click on “Insert” and “Close.” The symbol should now be in place on the original page. For legibility, department heads may need to select the symbol and increase the font size to around 28.
A candidate for promotion and tenure submits a current curriculum vitae with his or her application. Department heads should ensure that this document reflects a candidate’s full employment history at VSU, including all previous promotions. For example, if a faculty member were hired at the rank of assistant professor in 1997 and were promoted to the rank of associate professor in 2001, the employment history should list these dates in the following style:
Assistant Professor, Department of XYZ, Valdosta State University, 1997-2001
Associate Professor, Department XYZ, Valdosta State University, 2001-Present
Such mediation of faculty and staff concerns is another responsibility of department heads and directors, likely with very little warning. Therefore, they should have strategies for managing these conflicts. Many try to avoid making decisions or offering advice on the spot. Time for reflection is important, and tempers may cool a bit. One useful guideline may be the requirement that agitated faculty or staff members write down their concerns. In cases that involve faculty evaluations or merit pay, faculty are likely to follow this procedure without prompting. After attempting to mediate, department heads or directors must inform the faculty or staff members of their right to take the matter up the chain of command through the Dean. Problems involving a cross-listed course should include consultation either with the two relevant department heads or with the relevant head and director.
Mediation of student concerns and grade appeals will also emerge with little or no warning. Normally, heads will need to mediate between a student and a faculty member. Again, one should have a strategy in place before the event. Faculty should be aware of what that strategy is. For some heads or directors, requiring each party to write his or her arguments may be helpful. The judgment of the head or director will determine whether it makes sense to have the two meet in the presence of the head or director or whether it is better to have each one meet individually with the head or director. At all times students should be aware that faculty have final authority over grades and that administrators only can offer mediation. Students also should know that they may ask the Dean to assist in mediation, if necessary. In fact, students are likely to start at a higher administrative level only to be referred to a department head or director.
Beyond faculty salaries, departmental budgetary resources are relatively limited and rarely cause conflict. As stated previously, department heads or directors normally will hire student assistants; however, faculty members may need the services of such an assistant. Heads and directors should allocate judiciously student-assistant time and graduate-assistant time. While work-study assistants primarily may assist a secretary with an office’s operations, many department heads and directors use student assistants and graduate assistants for special departmental or faculty projects.
Departmental budgets clearly delineate available funds for travel. Some heads and directors prefer to allocate these funds equally to all faculty members. Others prefer to establish criteria for distribution of the funds.
Departmental budgets combine resources for copying and supplies. Most faculty offices also have printers, with a corresponding need for expensive laser toners. To avoid future conflict, heads or directors should establish very general guidelines for use of these resources, perhaps asking faculty to reconsider lengthy syllabi or examinations for very large classes. Departments should have clear guidelines about class handouts, which quickly may devour departmental budgets and thus cause conflict. Most new equipment will be new technology, and departments should establish clear policies for its distribution to avoid potential conflict.
Department heads and directors establish departmental committees, both standing and ad hoc, the chairs of which may be elected or appointed. All departments must establish Promotion, Tenure, and Faculty Evaluation Committees as well as Assessment Committees. The latter should collect data continually, based on departments’ assessment plans, and annually recommend changes based on data.
Office assignments usually change from year to year. As faculty and staff leave and others are hired, department heads and directors must reassign offices. They should establish consistent procedures of these reassignments. Most, of course, base these decisions on faculty seniority and are ever mindful of such considerations as office size and availability of windows.
New technology may be another sensitive issue for both department heads and directors. The Office of Information Technology occasionally upgrades both hardware and software, but occasionally department heads and directors may distribute new equipment, software, etc. to individual faculty. Some distribute new technology on the basis of seniority; others consider which faculty may use it most efficiently.
Assignment of summer courses may be difficult because summer budgets usually are limited. Also, when faculty announce definite retirement plans, many departments try to accommodate them with summer teaching, which often increases their retirement base. Department heads and directors should refer to their departmental policies and procedures manuals for departmental policies on assignments of summer teaching (most recently established in 1995). They should follow these guidelines closely and ask annually if their departments would like to revisit them. VSU does not guarantee summer teaching. Usually, department heads and directors may expect to teach two courses each summer.
In spring semester, the Dean annually reviews department heads and directors, who submit summaries of their year’s activities as well as self-evaluations to the Dean. The Dean then discusses these written reviews with each head or director, who should keep in mind that his or her review includes material relevant to both administrative duties and faculty responsibilities. Also, the Dean annually assigns merit pay to both heads and directors and schedules conferences with each to discuss this recommendation—a recommendation which should reflect the Dean’s written annual evaluation. Teaching loads of department heads and directors will be determined after consultation between the Dean and the head or director
As necessary, heads and directors present materials for pre-tenure, tenure, promotion, and post-tenure reviews. In these cases, the departmental Promotion and Tenure Committees will report directly to the Dean, and the Dean will report the results to the department head. Because the departmental committee and Dean judge the performance of the head as a faculty member, in these reviews they focus on teaching, research, and service. Department heads and directors also submit applications for Graduate Faculty Membership as well as for renewals. These applications go directly to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, although the Dean of the Graduate School awards such memberships after their approval by the Graduate Executive Committee.
The College of Arts and Sciences formally reviews department heads and directors every five years. These reviews focus exclusively on the administrative records. All faculty members in a department will have an opportunity to review the head in writing as well as through interviews conducted by review committees. The chair of a review committee will be a head or director from another department.
Department heads and directors also serve on the Executive Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences, which meets twice a month. The Dean often appoints subcommittees and taskforces from this committee, and both heads and directors should expect on occasion to be members of such subcommittees and taskforces. Once each semester, the heads and directors attend a meeting of the Deans, Directors, and Department Heads (DDH). In most cases, the Academic Vice President and President set the agenda for this group. The Department Heads Council meets occasionally and is chaired by the Academic Vice President, who usually sets the agenda.