The department head serves as the lead administrator for their academic unit. While the nature of their role may vary based on department discipline(s) as well as department history and mission, the department head is responsible for a wide range of functions needed to ensure departmental, faculty and student success. This page describes the range of department head responsibilities, but is not intended to be inclusive. 

Please note: some of the academic and curriculum-based responsibilities may not be required of the Department of Research Centers Head, as they are a non-degree-granting department.

Faculty Governance 

Department heads are responsible for:

  • Organizing and leading regular meetings of faculty
  • Ensuring a departmental committee structure which enables the business of the department to be conducted with faculty input
  • Ensuring faculty input in decisions impacting the department
  • Developing and implementing a department/school strategic plan including metrics for evaluating progress and assessing progress annually
  • Ensuring effective departmental representation and participation on college and university committees, task forces and faculty senate
  • Serving as the departmental representative on college and university administrative groups
  • Communicating college and university information and priorities

Academic Leadership

Department heads will:

  • Provide leadership in curriculum development and revision
  • Ensure that the department has valid student learning outcomes for all of its courses and academic programs, that they are regularly assessed and that they results of assessment are used for continuous improvement
  • Prepare for and organize the periodic reviews of the department's academic programs
  • Seek or maintain professional accreditation if available
  • Develop clear guidelines for faculty recruitment, retention and promotion

Scholarship and Research Leadership

Department heads will:

  • Ensure a productive environment for research and scholarly activity
  • Foster strong graduate programs and undergraduate opportunities for research and scholarship
  • Promote opportunities for internal and external support of research and scholarship
  • Support trans-disciplinary collaboration
  • Communicate departmental success stories/nominate faculty, students and staff for awards and other recognitions

Resource Management

Department heads will:

  • Provide budgetary oversight
  • Recommend the assignment of space for departmental needs according to university policy
  • Assign teaching
  • Ensure sufficient technical support
  • Supervise professional development of office and support unit staff
    • Create a collegial, respectful and supportive culture
    • Provide meaningful reviews and opportunities for professional development
    • Demonstrate appreciation and recognition of staff performance
    • Ensure knowledge, understanding and compliance of relevant university policies and applicable collective bargaining agreements
    • Create an ethical, principled work environment where diversity is encouraged, supported and valued as a measure of departmental success
    • Create a work environment that supports and values personal and family needs and priorities including marriage, childbirth, dependent care and dual-career families
    • Manage conflict

Faculty Career Development

Department heads are responsible for:

  • Seeking approval for faculty searches
  • Organizing department search committees to ensure outstanding and diverse pools of candidates
  • Articulating the policies, processes and expectations for tenure and promotion
    • Maintaining the department's role and scope document
  • Providing prompt, meaningful, fair and written annual performance evaluations, including:
    • Providing guidance and mentoring to faculty in managing competing demands
    • Supporting faculty development in terms of discovery, learning and engagement
    • Developing a mentoring system for faculty throughout their careers by matching their individual strengths and abilities in ways and at times that best match the department's or school's goals and needs
  • Ensuring knowledge, understanding and compliance with faculty policies

External Relations

Department heads should:

  • Maintain collegial relationships with other department heads as well as college and university administrators
  • Maintain relationships with department, college and university alumni and friends
  • Represent the department/university at various events and functions
  • Sustain relationships with key public groups, organizations and state agencies
  • Develop departmental communication outlets or work with University Communications to celebrate and share the success of faculty, students, staff, alumni and partners
  • Work with development officers and MSU Foundation in support of donor identification, cultivation and stewardship