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Department Head Duties and Responsibilities

Roles and Responsibilities of the Department Head/Chair


Academic departments at Western Kentucky University occupy a central place in carrying out the university's teaching, research and services missions. Effective leadership of departments is therefore of critical importance. The head/chair will be responsible for initiating policy discussions within the department and, with the dean's concurrence, for implementation of department policies. Such policies should always be directed toward the accomplishment of university goals. Further, the department head/chair will encourage the faculty to share responsibility both for making departmental decisions and for implementing the results of those decisions.

The roles and responsibilities of the head/chair should be carried out with appropriate faculty consultation, both as provided through formal university policies and departmental governance procedures and also through informal discussions in departmental meetings or through personal interaction.


  1.  Academic Leadership

The ability to exhibit leadership is of fundamental importance to a successful head. Four areas in which or through which this leadership is required are:  faculty quality, statesmanship; instructional programs; and student affairs.

A.  Faculty Quality

a. Participating in the recruitment, employment and orientation of new faculty; including demonstrating a commitment to the affirmative action goals of the university.

b. Encouraging and facilitating professional development through activities such as suggesting funding sources, discussing research ideas, and urging attendance at professional meetings and workshops.

c. Providing appropriate opportunities for faculty to participate in department affairs.

d. Evaluating faculty on a regular and continuing basis in the areas of teaching, research and service with appropriate recommendations for improvement, particularly for untenured faculty.

e. Creating a forum through which faculty can express ideas freely, thus promoting productive discussions among the departmental faculty members.

f. Making informed documented recommendations concerning faculty retention, promotion, tenure and annual salary increments, the outcomes of which will be intended to serve the best interest of the department as a whole.

g. Encouraging university and community service activities appropriate for faculty participation.

B. Communication and Representing the Department within the University

a. Providing a communication link between and among the faculty and the other levels of administration.

b. Communicating accurately university and college policy and reasons for policy to the department faculty.

c. Acting as an intermediary between faculty and administration.

d. Being the spokesperson for and yet the strongest critic of the faculty and the department.

e. Representing the department both within the university’s administrative and governance structures and externally with professional and community groups.

f. Maintaining personal professional competence in order to set a good example for faculty in teaching and research.

g. Initiating operational policies within the department for discussion, approval, and implementation.

h. Enforcing faculty responsibilities while at the same time protecting faculty rights and privileges.

i. Establishing effective working relationships with the non-academic portions of the university in order to facilitate departmental operations and to promote university-wide policies and practices within the department.

C. Instructional Programs

a. Articulating program-related goals.

b. Providing leadership for the faculty in developing strong and attractive curricula.

c. Providing leadership for the faculty in developing methods for assessing the effectiveness of instructional programs.

d. Providing leadership for the faculty in providing programs that are pedagogically sound and that use available resources maximally.

e. Encouraging cooperation with other departments, colleges, or institutions whenever this is appropriate.

f. Encouraging consideration of new program ideas when appropriate.

g. Managing teaching loads in a fair, flexible, and productive manner.

D. Student Affairs

a. Insuring that student activities and student organizations receive adequate supervision.

b. Dealing with student problems that are not the appropriate concerns of the faculty.

c. Arranging with faculty for academic counseling.

d. Disseminating information of interest to students.

e. Responding to student grievances and requests.

f. Recruiting good undergraduate and graduate students.


   II. Administrative Leadership

A successful head must be able to handle the administrative details which make the office function efficiently, professionally, and effectively.

A. Budgetary

a. Coordinating the preparation of the department budget.

b. Administering the department budget.

c. Adhering to the budget management procedures established by the Business Office.

d. Allocating funds in a manner consistent with the goals of the department.

B. Programmatic

a. Coordinating the development of long-term planning for the department.

b. Preparing teaching schedules and assignments.

c. Maintaining faculty files.

d. Approving students’ degree programs.

e. Coordinating the use of instructional facilities.

f. Generating proposals for funds to support the academic programs.

C. Office Organization

a. Coordinating support staff activities.

b. Arranging for and assigning departmental space, facilities, and equipment.

c. Coordinating the reports that go to other offices and service areas.

d. Implementing administrative policies.

e. Managing clerical support.

f. Maintaining an efficient system of records.

g. Preparing agenda for, convening, and chairing departmental meetings.

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 Last Modified 8/11/22