Chairperson/Director Selection and Appointment in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
To regulate the selection and appointment of chairpersons/directors in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Faculty, staff, and students in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
In the Faculty Senate Rules and Regulations, see Article X, “Procedures for Review and Reappointment of Chairpersons, Academic Deans, Vice Chancellors, and Vice Provosts,” especially section 1, “Selection and Review of Chairpersons.”
Internal vs. External Searches
The process outlined below pertains to internal chair and director searches, in which the unit’s next chair or director will be drawn from the ranks of the existing faculty of the College. When the unit is conducting an external search for a new faculty member who will be the unit’s next chair or director, the unit follows its normal new-faculty recruitment process.
In their evaluation of candidates for chair/director, units should bear in mind the following guidelines for chair/director appointments throughout the College.
- Only tenured faculty members may serve as chairs. In exceptional cases, a staff member may serve as a director. No pretenure faculty member may serve as a chair/director.
- It is generally preferred that chairs/directors have the rank of full professor. The significance of this consideration in any specific situation may depend on the priorities of the Dean, the preferences of the faculty and staff of the unit, and the pool of potential chairs/directors for the unit.
1. Dean’s Office Meeting with Unit
The process begins when the Dean and/or an associate dean meet with the faculty (and sometimes staff) of the unit to outline the process of the search for a new chair/director. Topics typically discussed include the formation of the search committee, subsequent stages of the process, and any questions that unit members may have. It is also typically clarified in this meeting whether the Dean anticipates a specific term of service for the next chair/director (e.g., three years or five years) and whether the Dean is open to considering College faculty members from outside the unit as candidates for the next chair/director of the unit.
At this stage of the process, the Dean normally designates a member of the Dean’s Office administrative team to oversee the chair/director search. This person is usually an associate dean, and is referred to as “the associate dean” in the rest of this document.
2. Search Committee Formation
The search committee is typically formed at the unit level in accordance with the bylaws of the unit. To the extent that the bylaws of the unit are indeterminate with respect to this topic, the unit may consult the following guidelines:
- It is often advisable for the search committee to include all of the “permanent” members of the faculty, where that term is understood to refer to all of the following. (This can be understood, in this process, as a “committee of the whole.”)
- professors of all ranks (assistant, associate, and full)
- teaching professors of all ranks (assistant, associate, and full)
- If the unit does not wish for a committee of the whole to be the search committee, another option is for an existing committee to be the search committee. For example, some units have an executive committee, or a personnel committee, that could appropriately serve as a chair/director search committee.
- The unit may also constitute the search committee in some other way. Generally, any fair decision-making process for constituting the committee is acceptable.
- Regardless of how the committee is constituted (committee of the whole or otherwise), the following individuals must not serve on it:
- the current chair/director
- any candidate for the position
- the partner or family member of any candidate for the position
If the Dean is concerned about the effectiveness of a search committee comprising only faculty members from the particular unit, the Dean may decide to augment the committee with a faculty member from outside the unit to serve as an additional voting member of the committee.
The search committee elects a tenured faculty member from among its members to serve as committee chairperson. The search committee chairperson’s responsibilities include coordinating search-related activities within the unit and close contact with the associate dean.
3. Position Description
After the chair of the search committee has been determined, the associate dean sends the chair a draft of the position description. The chair shares this document with the other members of the search committee, collects any comments or suggestions regarding the content of the position description, and forwards these comments to the associate dean. This step may be omitted if the need to expedite the process is deemed to outweigh the value of obtaining this feedback.
The final version of the position description is determined by the Dean and/or the associate dean. Dean’s Office staff then work with Human Resource Management to arrange for the position to be formally posted on the university’s website for open positions. When the position has been posted, the associate dean notifies the faculty members affiliated with the unit. In the case of searches in which College faculty members from outside the unit may be candidates for the position, faculty members in the unit are encouraged to bring the posting to the attention of any potentially desirable candidates.
4. Unit Evaluation of Candidates
After the deadline for applying for the position has passed, the associate dean, or other Dean’s Office personnel, sends the application materials for all applicants to the chair of the search committee. The chair then shares those materials with the search committee.
Normally, all of the faculty members of the unit interview every applicant. (The faculty members assemble as a group, but every candidate is interviewed separately from the other candidates.) Exceptions may be made in the following cases:
- The faculty members deem an applicant unacceptable prior to the interview stage.
- The search committee is empowered, either by the unit’s bylaws or directly by the faculty members, to eliminate some candidates from consideration.
In addition to interviewing the applicants themselves, the faculty members must ensure that they solicit and consider input from staff members and students.
The faculty members then deliberate about the merits of the applicants. All of the permanent members of the faculty, except for the exclusions noted in the search-committee section above, must be given the opportunity to vote, by secret ballot, regarding the acceptability or unacceptability of each candidate interviewed. In addition, the candidates must be evaluated in any way prescribed by the unit’s bylaws. (For example, the unit’s bylaws might prescribe that a single departmental ranking of the candidates be determined, perhaps by a specific voting procedure, in addition to being evaluated individually on their acceptability as chair/director.)
The chair of the search committee then prepares a report for the Dean. At a minimum, the report must inform the Dean of the following:
- the results of the acceptability vote for each applicant
- the results of any evaluation prescribed by the unit’s bylaws
In addition, the report may contain other information, such as an account of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate as determined by the unit’s faculty members.
5. Dean’s Evaluation and Appointment
Upon receiving the report of the search committee, the Dean may elect to interview one or more candidates, make an offer to a candidate, and/or decline to offer the position to any of the existing candidates and seek to fill the position by other means. Normally, the Dean keeps this part of the process confidential until the Dean and a candidate have a verbal agreement on the terms of appointment, at which point the associate dean sends a formal notification of the appointment of the new chair/director to the faculty, staff, and students of the unit.
In accordance with the Faculty Senate Rules and Regulations, section 10.1.0.2, if the chair selected by the Dean is not supported by a substantial majority of the voting members of the unit, the Dean will provide a confidential explanation to the voting members.
6. Sabbatical Leaves occurring during Chair/Director Service
If a chair/director is awarded a sabbatical leave (or other similar leave), and an acting chair serves in their place for one year, the chair/director is normally given the option of extending the end date of their appointment by one year. Shorter leaves normally have no effect on the end date of the appointment.
At the end of a chair/director’s appointed term of service, the Dean may elect to initiate a regular chair/director search for the unit, starting with step 1 above. However, the Dean also has the option of offering reappointment to the chair/director, as follows:
- If the end date of the chair/director’s current term of service is less than five years from the start of their term of service, they may be reappointed for an additional period of time with an end date not later than five years from the start of their current term of service. (For example, a three-year appointment may be extended by up to two years.)
- If the end date of the chair/director’s current term of service is five years from the start of their term of service, they may be reappointed for up to five additional years after a comprehensive evaluation by the Committee on the Evaluation of Chairpersons and Directors.
- In general, no chair/director shall serve in that role for more than ten consecutive years. Only in unusual cases are exceptions to this rule made.
8. Optional Comprehensive Evaluation in Last Year of Service
If a chair/director is in the last year of their service as chair/director and is either ineligible for reappointment or has opted not to be considered for reappointment, they still have the option of having their service as chair/director comprehensively evaluated by the Committee on the Evaluation of Chairpersons and Directors. The Dean’s Office offers this option to the chair/director in the fall semester of the last year of service.
9. Research Intensive Semester occurring after Chair/Director Service
The Dean’s Office normally grants a Research Intensive Semester to a chair/director who is returning to regular faculty service after the completion of at least five consecutive years as chair/director. This is a semester in which the individual has no ordinary classroom teaching obligations, though the individual is expected to continue to be available to students for advising, and does not have a reduced service load. A typical allocation of effort is 5% teaching, 75% research, and 20% service.
The Research Intensive Semester normally occurs in the semester immediately after the conclusion of the individual’s term of service, but the specific timing of it may be determined by the individual and their successor as chair/director in a way that is beneficial to both the individual and the unit. A Research Intensive Semester may be scheduled consecutively with a sabbatical or fellowship leave, to provide a longer uninterrupted period of no ordinary classroom teaching obligations.
Appendix: Guidelines for Unit Bylaws
Many units have sections in their bylaws that pertain to chair/direction selection. In a unit’s review of its bylaws to check for thorough coverage of this topic, the following list of important issues might be a useful guide. However, the College’s chair/director selection process does not require that unit bylaws address any of them.
Units are discouraged from revising their bylaws to address these topics immediately before an upcoming chair/director search, because of the risk that the revision of the bylaws will be overly influenced by aspects of the upcoming search, such as anticipated candidates and voting blocs. It is suggested that units revise their bylaws to address these topics when the unit is several years away from its next chair/director search, perhaps in the first or second year of the term of a newly appointed chair/director.
- How is the search committee constituted?
- Is it a committee of the whole faculty (except for the exclusions listed in the search-committee section above), or are members elected, or are they selected in some other way?
- Do any staff members serve on the committee?
- Does the committee’s membership need to represent a certain range of disciplines and/or subdisciplines within the unit? (This is more common in interdisciplinary units.)
- How will the committee solicit and consider input from affected individuals who are not members of the committee?
- If the search committee is not a committee of the whole, what is it empowered to do on behalf of all of the faculty members of the unit? Can the search committee eliminate some applicants from further consideration, or does it only make recommendations to all of the faculty members of the unit?
- How will the unit evaluate the applicants?
- All of the permanent members of the faculty, except for the exclusions noted in the search-committee section above, must be given the opportunity to vote, by secret ballot, regarding the acceptability or unacceptability of each candidate interviewed.
- Does the unit wish to prescribe that a single unit ranking of the candidates will be determined (presumably by a specific voting procedure)?
- Does the unit also wish to prescribe that for every applicant, the chair of the search committee will include an account of the applicant’s strengths and weakness in the report to the Dean?
- Does the unit wish to include anything else in its procedure for evaluating the applicants?
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
12/02/2022: Updated minimum qualifications.
06/09/2021: Updated link.
05/11/2021: Major revision.
10/16/2018: Updated policy.
10/12/2018: Updated policy; approved by Interim Dean Clarence Lang.
07/11/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
03/22/2016: Per the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the wording of the following was changed from "should" to "shall."; An individual’s service as chairperson/director shall be limited to ten (10) years.
02/05/2016: Added Information regarding the effect sabbaticals and fellowships have on the term of service.
09/29/2015: Added a link to the Position Announcement and Faculty Checklist document. Fixed links so that they would open in new window.
10/23/2014: Updated section: CLAS Procedures for Selection and Appointment of Chairpersons/Directors within the College.
Approved by the Dean of the College