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  3. Academic Deans and Department Chairs: Appointment and Responsibilities

Academic Deans and Department Chairs: Appointment and Responsibilities

Policy Author:
Faculty Senate

Responsible Office – Department:
Faculty Senate

Effective Date of Policy:
Fall 2021


Establish appointment procedures and responsibilities of deans and department chairs.


Faculty, Deans, and the VPAA

Policy Narrative:

Taken from Faculty Handbook:



A.  Academic Deans

Each college shall be headed by an Academic Dean appointed by the VPAA/Provost in consultation with the President of the University in accordance with the procedure described below:

1. General Responsibilities.

The Academic Dean shall report directly to the VPAA/Provost and meet regularly with, but not
limited to, Department Chairs, Program Directors, faculty, and other Academic Deans. The
Academic Dean for each college shall assume a leadership role with regard to the following:

• Lead the college mission, vision, and identity;
• Oversee curriculum and evaluate department, program, and faculty performance;
• Direct and oversee college operations including budget planning, management and analysis, and faculty workload and contracts;
• Advocate for programs in the college in alignment with the institution’s mission and strategic plan;
• Advance teaching excellence in all modalities;
• Monitor student retention and outcome data and collaborate with relevant offices to support student success;
• Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts including faculty hiring, student success (e.g., recruitment/retention/persistence), and leadership development;
• Provide professional development opportunities and mentoring for chairs, directors, and administrative personnel;
• Promote enrollment growth through new program development;
• Collaborate with Enrollment Management, Institutional Advancement, department chairs, and program directors on student recruitment, admissions, and program marketing strategies;
• Develop a culture of fundraising and represent the college to external constituencies including alumni and corporate/community partners;
• Support faculty research, scholarship, and grant writing;
• Support accreditation, institutional assessment, and academic program review;
• Work with the Deans of the other colleges to advance Academic Affairs priorities in order to promote synergies among the colleges;
• Lead projects or initiatives at the request of the VPAA/Provost;
• Represent relevant departments/programs to the WNY healthcare community to enhance partnerships (where appropriate to the college’s mission).
• Promote interprofessional and experiential learning experience in the Center for Interprofessional Learning and Simulation (CILS), and develop new revenue-generating, professional development, and continuing education opportunities for the region (where appropriate to the college’s mission).

2.  Appointment Procedure:
a) Search Committee: Upon notification by the VPAA/Provost that a vacancy exists, a search will proceed under the same procedures as national, vice-presidential searches (see also Article V.H. Committee for the Selection of a Major Administrator). The search committee will be chaired by the Chief of Staff, an objective, disinterested representative not affiliated with Academic Affairs. The search committee will consist of two (2) faculty members selected in a process determined by the Faculty Senate (see also Article V.H), and three to
four additional individuals, appointed by the VPAA/Provost. It is recommended that at least one of the VPAA/Provost’s selections be a faculty member.

b) Recruitment: In order to attract top candidates and have a robust applicant pool, the University will maintain a dedicated website to promote the position posting. It will also post the position on other appropriate academic forums. In addition, the search committee chair will disseminate personalized recruitment letters to academic leaders encouraging top candidates to apply or provide recommendations. Internal and external candidates will follow the same procedures and be equally considered.

c) Interview Process: The search committee will narrow the applicant pool finalists for first round remote interviews with the entire committee. All interviews will be recorded for review. After the first round of interviews, the committee will narrow the applicant pool for on-campus interviews, which will consist of the following:

• Meeting with the search committee;
• Meeting with the President’s Cabinet;
• Lunch with the Department Chairs;
• Meeting with key representatives from Academic Affairs;
• Meeting with Faculty Senate Leadership;
• Meeting with key representatives from Institutional Advancement;
• Meeting with key representatives from Enrollment Management and   
• Meeting with key representatives from Information Technology;
• Public presentation with Q&A to follow

d) Selection Process: Following on-campus interviews, the committee will convene to review the finalists. The search committee chair will also conduct reference checks. After reviewing all the finalists, the committee will submit its recommendations to the VPAA/Provost, the accountable officer, for consideration. Finally, the VPAA/Provost, in consultation with the President, will appoint the Academic Dean for the college.
3. Evaluation:

Academic Deans will be subject to annual evaluation conducted by the VPAA/Provost with
an opportunity for faculty input.

B. Department Chairs

Each department will be headed by a Chairperson appointed by the VPAA/Provost from the departmental faculty in accordance with the procedures described below.  While there are no minimum criteria for Department Chair, the candidate should preferably have tenure and at least three (3) years of teaching experience.

1.   Responsibilities.

The Department Chairperson is responsible for overseeing the instructional program of the department and tending to the welfare of department students, staff, and faculty.  The Chairperson shall also have the responsibility to manage the financial affairs of the department including the departmental budget.  Finally, the Department Chairperson shall be required to interact with the administrative staff and the other academic units of the University.  Department Chairpersons are directly responsible to the Academic Dean.

2.  Appointment Procedure:  
A)  Upon notification from the office of the VPAA/Provost that a 
    vacancy exists or that a Department Chair term is about to expire, 
    the appropriate Academic Dean will arrange a meeting of all the 
    full-time faculty in the department for the purpose of discussing 
    and recommending a possible candidate. The Dean will oversee a
    confidential vote and pass on the recommendation to the 
    VPAA/Provost. In the
 Dean’s absence, the President of the Faculty 
    Senate will conduct the meeting. The
 VPAA/Provost will not be 

b)  Following the meeting, the Academic Dean must provide a written 
    recommendation to the VPAA/Provost for appointment of the 
    Department Chair. In addition, any member of the department may 
    send a written recommendation to the VPAA/Provost proposing a 
    candidate along with the reasons for the recommendation. At the 
    discretion of the VPAA/Provost or upon the petition of a
    majority of the faculty of the department, the VPAA/Provost will 
    call a meeting of the department faculty to discuss the candidates.

c)  Thereafter, the VPAA/Provost will make the appointment and share 
    the rationale
 with the department faculty 
3.  Term of Service.

The term of the Department Chair will normally be three (3) years; however, at the discretion of the VPAA/Provost, a shorter term may be established. If a Department Chair is unable to complete a term because of an extended leave, the VPAA may appoint an interim replacement until such time as the Department Chair returns or the term expires.

4.   Removal.

The VPAA may terminate the appointment of a Department Chair before the expiration of a term for the following reasons:

a)  At the request of the Department Chair;

b)  Upon the recommendation of the appropriate Academic Dean 
    which contains supporting reasons;

c)  At the VPAA/Provost’s discretion, but only after appropriate 
    consultation with the Department faculty.
Updated on April 3, 2023

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