Questions to Ask Your Department Chair
The answers to the following questions are not closely-guarded secrets.
In fact, you will be told much of the information without having to ask.
However, you should feel comfortable asking your chair these questions
(and any others) in a timely manner. If your chair doesn’t know the
answer to a question, he/she should be able to find out the answer or direct
you to the right source—often, the department’s administrative support staff.
Faculty roles and responsibilities
- What are the department's expectations of me this year—and in subsequent
Research or creative activity
Extra curricular/student activities
- What are the department's policies for retention, promotion
and tenure (RPT)?
- What is the department deadline for submission of my Professional
Information File (PIF) in Fall 2007? What format is used? Is there
an example of a PIF that I can examine?
- Is there a faculty dress standard?
- What is the department's policy on syllabi? Are there sample
syllabi available that are indicative of what is taught in this course
and what is normally expected of students in this type of course?
- What are the University and department policies/procedures for adding
students? What is the policy for dropping students from class at various
times during the semester?
- What does an Incomplete signify? Under what circumstances might
I decide to assign an Incomplete?
- What is my responsibility for arranging coverage for my classes
in case of an unpredicted absence (if I'm ill)? What
is my responsibility for arranging coverage for my classes in a predicted
absence (if I'm going to a conference)?
- What campus resources are available to help me with my teaching?
Grading, advising and student behavior
- What is the department's grading policy?
- What is the acceptable range of a class G.P.A.?
- I know the University’s policies on academic dishonesty are
in the current University catalog. Are there
department policies or procedures that elucidate or augment this discussion?
- What do I do if a student is a behavior problem in class?
- What do I do if a student is injured in class?
- In what areas am I expected to advise students? Who can be
assigned to show me the ropes vis a vis advising?
Department office policies/procedures
- What is the department procedure for having course materials
(syllabi, exams, etc.) typed and/or duplicated?
- What is the department procedure for making copies?
- What clerical help is available?
- What is the procedure for reimbursement for department-approved
Equipment and research funding
- What computer facilities are available to me from the
department, college and university?
- What is the procedure for requesting new or additional instructional
- What is the department policy for asking for research equipment
- Is there money for professional travel to conferences? How do I
apply for it?
- Are other travel funds available?
- What intradepartmental, College, or University grants are available
- What is the department policy regarding office hours?
- If I have a Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday teaching
schedule, am I expected to be on campus one or more of the other weekdays?
What if I teach three days per week?
- How are decisions made about course offerings, faculty assignment
to courses and scheduling? What am I scheduled to teach in the spring
- How do I apply to teach in Winter Session and/or Summer Session?
And, perhaps, the most important question to ask:
30. Can you suggest other faculty in the department who could mentor
Prepared by Cynthia Rawitch, Christie Logan, Elizabeth Berry, Cynthia
Desrochers, and Mary Schaffer (2002). Updated by Christie Logan (2003 and
2004) and Rian Medlin (2005).