Chair Roles

Without doubt, the department chair has one of the most demanding jobs on campus. Some roles required are being a gate-keeper, a role model, a mentor, a liaison, and a visionary, all while serving as a model teacher, scholar, and researcher. The passages below from the University of Memphis Faculty Handbook delineate a chair's many responsibilities.

After you read the 'official' list of duties, we'll address some chair survival strategies.

Some of the chair's specific administrative responsibilities include: 

  • Organizing the department in such a way that the total program will be served effectively
  • Developing a set of department policies, supplementary to and consistent with those of the college and University
  • Providing leadership in departmental planning
  • Assisting in developing a continuing education program
  • Developing and administering the department's budget
  • Supervising the department's secretarial and support staff
  • Preparing class schedules and teaching assignments
  • Supervising and managing the physical facilities under the department's jurisdiction
  • Promoting positive interpersonal relations
  • Serving as a link between the department and the university administration

The chair's faculty responsibilities include:

  • Recruiting capable faculty members (in concerted effort with the faculty and with the concurrence of administrative officers)
  • Encouraging and rewarding excellence in teaching, research and creative endeavors, and service
  • Assisting and encouraging faculty in securing outside funding for research
  • Evaluating faculty performance annually
  • Recommending faculty members for tenure, promotion, salary adjustments, continuing education assignments, and graduate faculty memberships
  • Serving as a link between faculty and University administration

The chair's student responsibilities include:

  • Establishing an effective advising system
  • Ensuring that students meet degree requirements
  • Administering a graduate assistantship program
  • Conferring with students about policies and practices of the department, the college, and the university
  • Assisting students in solving problems relating to academic matters
  • Assisting in student recruitment