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Departmental Management

Because of needs that vary from department to department, there are a number of functions that are handled internally by the departments in ways that may vary. For example, one department may have many purchases during the semester (Chemistry or Art) for example. Another may have very comparatively few purchases other than office supplies (Sociology or Mathematics & Statistics). In some departments faculty may need blocks of time off campus (Curriculum and Instruction, Nursing, etc.). In other departments this use of faculty time is not a factor. 

Some departments are in a college with a small number of departments that are relatively homogeneous from a management standpoint (College of Education, College of Business). Other colleges have many departments that are diverse in function (College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, College of STEM, for example). Therefore, departmental management will vary from college to college and within departments in a given college.

In this section you will find information about managing typical departmental functions. You will need to clarify with your dean the extent to which these functions are managed within your department and the extent to which they are handled by the dean’s office.  In order to facilitate communication with faculty about internal procedures, some department chairs have created faculty handbooks for their departments. Such a document can clarify expectations and can save time for both the faculty and the chair.


The software used for a variety of departmental functions is Banner. Your academic assistant will need to be proficient with a variety of Banner screens and procedures. You may also from time to time need to interact directly with Banner. A current manual can be found here: https://www.apsu.edu/registrar/resources/AdminAssistManual-revised_92513.pdf

Per the Space Allocation website:

All university buildings and land belong to the University as a whole and are subject to assignment and reassignment to meet the institution's overall priorities and needs. The Space Allocation Committee is charged with the responsibility and authority for reviewing and recommending all individual space requests, campus-wide space plans, and new space planning to the President. 

Recommendations to the President are made after careful review of all relevant factors including: adherence to the master plan, compatibility with existing use of space, university strategic priority and cost, space utilization report, legal, environmental and external mandates. Requests regarding the allocation of academic space are to be directed to the Provost.

For example, classrooms and lab/studio spaces cannot be “taken offline” and repurposed for other purposes without appropriate approval. More information, including the Space Request Form, can be found on the Space Allocation website: https://www.apsu.edu/space-allocation/

The Physical Plant website provides service policies and forms to request work, such as office keys, building repairs, painting, and moving boxes and office furniture. You can always consult with the “building coordinator” for your building before submitting a request. Discuss the work order process with the Academic Assistant in your department to determine the best way to handle these requests.

If this is an EMERGENCY, call:

Monday-Friday, 7:30am - 4:30pm:  931-221-7424

After Business Hours and Weekends: 931-221-7786 

The Physical Plant website is linked here: https://www.apsu.edu/physical-plant/

Of course, departments are required to function within the overall policy guidelines of the University.  Current university policies are maintained on-line and can be found at the APSU PolicyTech hub. If you haven’t done so lately, it would be worth your time to take a few minutes just to take a look at the index of policies to familiarize yourself with the scope of the APSU policies.  In addition, a standing committee at APSU maintains a detailed and helpful Faculty Handbook, which is updated each year.

In particular, the Faculty Handbook contains detailed summaries of policies and guidelines concerning:

  • Faculty Absences and Leaves
  • Office Hours
  • Course Syllabi
  • Tests, Examinations, and Grades
  • Academic Alerts
  • Student Evaluations of Courses
  • Student Attendance Reporting and Grades of FA and FN, including on-line and hybrid courses
  • Grades of W
  • Incompletes
  • Grade Corrections
  • Class Records
  • Academic Freedom 

As chair, faculty and staff will come to you with questions about policy.  (They will expect you to automatically become a policy expert immediately upon your appointment!)  Familiarize yourself with the APSU Faculty Handbook, and consult with your dean regarding areas in which you are not clear.  If faculty come to you with policy questions which you cannot answer, feel free to say, “Let me look into that and get back to you.”  Always be sure to follow up.

It is important for the department chair to schedule classes in adherence to APSU Policy 2:064 Credit Hours.

As stated in the policy,

Faculty are responsible for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum; therefore, the responsibility for credit hour determination resides with the faculty. The amount and level of credit hours awarded for a course will be determined according to these guidelines and courses will be monitored to ensure that they meet or exceed these expectations.  Faculty and academic departments are charged with following the credit hour policy in developing and offering new courses or new modes of delivering existing courses.

The University has established the Registrar to be responsible for ensuring the class contact hours for those classes that are completely 'face-to face' are scheduled to meet the minimum contact hour requirement maintained in the official Curriculum file. For distance education (online or hybrid class) courses, the University has established the department chair as responsible for ensuring that the class syllabus is designed to meet the intended learning outcomes. 

In large departments with complex scheduling issues (satellite campus classes, SLA labs, science labs, individual music instruction, courses which must be taught in customized space, studio classes, etc.) preparing the schedule can be one of the most time-consuming tasks for the chair.  At APSU scheduling is handled differently in the different colleges.  As just one example, in the College of Education, department chairs submit schedules to the dean’s office and the schedules are coordinated and entered into Banner from the dean’s office.  In the College of STEM, schedules are entered into Banner from the offices of the individual department chairs.  Check with your dean to be sure you understand any scheduling procedures that may be unique to your college.

Some department chairs may prepare the schedule themselves, and in others chairs may delegate the preparation of the schedule to another faculty member(s).  If the department has an Undergraduate Program Facilitator and/or Graduate program coordinator, those persons may construct parts of the schedule.  Usually, the Department Academic Assistant will enter the schedule into Banner, and in some departments the Academic Assistant may assist in other ways with schedule preparation. 

The Office of the Registrar sends a formal email memo request for the schedule early in the semester prior.  The Summer Schedule and the Fall Schedule are submitted together in January.  The Spring and Winter term schedules are submitted in September.  The Registrar’s schedule memo will contain deadlines.  There are actually three schedule submissions deadlines:

  • Initial schedule deadline
  • First-round revisions – priority for classrooms is lost after this deadline.
  • Final revisions

Some departments hold scheduling priority over designated classrooms.  After the first-round revisions, any unscheduled rooms are available to be scheduled by other departments. 

Classroom space at APSU is, as of this writing, very tight.  Except in the most unusual circumstances, departments are expected to schedule classes only within the university’s standard time slots.  Scheduling across these time frames ties up classrooms so that they cannot be fully utilized.  Exceptions to this rule should be discussed with the Office of the Registrar. 

Chairs with course offerings through the Austin Peay Center at Fort Campbell can coordinate class schedules with the Executive Director of the Austin Peay Center at Fort Campbell to best support the Fort Campbell student body. Unique enrollment situations can fluctuate based upon Fort Campbell unit operations causing shifts between online and classroom demands.

Chairs with dual enrollment course offerings can coordinate class schedules with the Director of Dual Enrollment to best support the dual enrollment student body.

Banner modules used in schedule entry and revisions are described here:  https://www.apsu.edu/registrar/resources/AdminAssistManual-revised_92513.pdf 

Perhaps the biggest contributing factor (other than salary) to a faculty member’s morale is his/her teaching schedule.  You will probably want to ask faculty to submit to you, in writing, schedule preferences. If you can accommodate reasonable requests regarding the schedule, you can positively impact the faculty member’s potential to be productive.  For example, some faculty may want blocks of time for research, etc.  They may prefer back-to-back classes.  Other faculty may find that they can do a better job in the classroom if they have an off-period between classes.  Some faculty may prefer early morning classes.  Some may prefer not to have early classes, etc.  You will almost certainly find that the scheduling problem is over-constrained.  In other words when you account for the number of courses/sections which must be offered, the fact that each course must have a teacher and no teacher can teach two courses at once, each class must have a room to meet in and multiple classes can’t meet in the same room at the same time and other obvious constraints, you will almost certainly find that you cannot perfectly accommodate every faculty request.  However, to the extent that you can work with your faculty to arrange schedules that fit their work styles, you can help them be productive.

The undergraduate classes offered by most departments fall into two broad categories

  • Courses in the general education core
  • Courses in the major and any minors offered in the department and courses required in majors offered by other departments (a science course required for an engineering major, a history course required for an education major, a math course required for a science major, etc.)

Some considerations regarding general education courses are mentioned below.  With regard to courses required in programs of study for majors, you will need to ensure that all classes required for a major can be taken by a student within a four-year time period.  In some majors, some of the upper-division courses may tend to have small enrollments.  You can maximize the efficiency of offering these courses by preparing a multiyear schedule listing what courses will be offered every semester, once a year, every other year, etc.  Such a schedule will help students and advisors plan and will help your department operate as efficiently as possible with faculty teaching load credits. 

For general education core classes and other classes in which there are typically multiple sections each semester, a number of observations can be made: 

  1. There are many opinions on the effect of class size on the quality of instruction. Any studies that you can find regarding best practice in regard to class size in your discipline can help inform your decisions and you conversations with administrators.  Some accreditation agencies have guidelines regarding class size to which you must adhere.  Otherwise, you can gather input from your faculty on what they consider best practice regarding class size in each of the various courses in your department.  If you can track data relating student success to class size, that is, of course, useful.
  2. Efficiency is important.  Running multiple sections of the same class, many of which are significantly smaller than can reasonably be accommodated for that course, wastes resources.   If the department is operating more efficiently, tenured and tenure-track faculty can be assigned time for research, grant writing, mentoring student research, etc.    (See the workload discussion below.)   If the department is operating more efficiently, it might not be necessary to hire as many adjuncts.
  3. In tension with 2), is the need to have enough sections of required general education core classes so that
    1. overall demand is accommodated,
    2. there are sufficient choices of time for returning students to avoid conflicts with required classes within their major, and
    3. there are enough openings to accommodate incoming freshmen during summer registration.

There may be other concerns and considerations that vary from department to department.  For some departments the following has been a reasonable strategy for scheduling multi-section courses:  For each course, count the actual total number of students enrolled in all sections combined during the semester one year prior to the one for which you are planning (e.g., count students in Fall 2019 if you are preparing the schedule for Fall 2020).  If enrollment is expected to change significantly, add or subtract from this number.  (For example, have any departments for which you provide service courses changed their requirements?  Has Academic Affairs informed departments of changes in trends in the number of applicants? Etc.)   Divide this number by what your department has determined is a reasonable maximum number of students in each section.  If the course is taken by first-time freshmen, you will need to leave (for summer registration) some openings at several times of the day so that there will be options for students and advisors during summer registration.  (Having only one available section of a service course that conflicts with a “must take” classes in a student’s major poses scheduling problems no matter how many seats are open in that one section.)  Consequently, it may be best to set caps at some number below the actual physical capacity so that sections will fill evenly during preregistration and options are left for summer advisors to place students. This plan will not reduce efficiency provided the total projected enrollment was realistic. 

Some departments require courses from other departments for their majors.  For example, mathematics majors must take at least one computer science class.  Physics majors take certain math classes, etc.  When these classes are upper division classes, of which there is only one section per semester, it is important that any courses in two departments which are likely to be needed by the same students not be offered at the same time.  Thus, collaboration between department chairs during the preparation of schedules may be necessary.

You should also be aware the PELP and Honors students have required courses during certain semesters.  Coordinate with the Director of Honors and PELP to avoid scheduling the only section of a required course at the same time as a required PELP or honors class or seminar.

Of course, chairs must keep in mind the faculty workload policy when preparing schedules. Policy informaiton regarding faculty workload can be found in APSU Policy 2:046 Faculty Workload.

According to the policy, “The standard workload for all faculty at Austin Peay State University is 15 work load credits per semester with exceptions in certain programs.  For tenure track and tenured faculty approximately three (3) work load credits typically are assigned for creative and scholarly activity, academic advisement, and committee and service responsibilities.”

The hours for Advising, Research, Committee work, etc. are usually referred to as “ARC.”  We summarize some other policy provisions here.  Consult the full policy for details.

  • For undergraduate lecture-format courses, each student credit hour corresponds to 1 work load credit (WLC). For example four undergraduate classes of three credit hours each corresponds to a WLC of 12.  The policy makes other provisions for graduate courses, labs, individual instruction courses, studio courses, supervision of interns, etc.
  • With approval of the dean, ARC for a faculty member may be adjusted in the range of 3-6 hours in order to provide a full 15 WLC assignment.
  • Reassigned time outside of ARC requires approval of the Provost.
  • From the policy: “For classes with low enrollment the chair will appropriately prorate the WLC downward. The Provost will provide a procedural definition of low enrolled classes.”

The Banner module for faculty workload is SYRTRAL.  Instructions can be found here:  https://www.apsu.edu/registrar/resources/AdminAssistManual-revised_92513.pdf  SYRTRAL is the database from which reports regarding workload are generated for required reporting to state and government agencies. 

Each semester, Banner generates an initial SYRTRAL report that is populated with data from the course schedule.  To account for details such as the workload adjustments mentioned above and other circumstances unique to individual departments, the SYRTRAL database will usually have be adjusted by hand.  Your departmental Academic Assistant will work with you to make these adjustments.  Be aware that any adjustments made before the 14th day of classes will be overwritten when the 14th day Banner databases are frozen.  Therefore, be aware that there is a short window of time between the 14th day and the day (usually the 18th day) that final SYRTRAL report is due.

From the policy:  “Faculty members are not guaranteed teaching opportunities during the summer. The maximum summer teaching assignment is 10.5 WLC for compensation purposes. Upon approval of the chair and consent of the faculty member, assignments in excess of 10.5 may be made but will not increase summer teaching compensation.” 

In an ideal world, all faculty desiring to teach in the summer could do so.  In some departments, this happy circumstance is just not possible, as there is insufficient demand for summer courses to offer classes for each faculty member.  Chairs should carefully watch enrollment trends – for example, consider offering a section during the summer of any course in your major in which you struggle to offer enough slots during the other semesters. 

If your department does not have a policy governing the assignment of summer teaching, consider leading your faculty in the development of such a policy.  Since summer teaching significantly affects annual faculty pay, lack of transparency in summer teaching assignments can be a significant drain on goodwill between the faculty and the chair.

If you are new to the chair’s job, it may surprise you what you are and are not responsible for out of the department budget.  At APSU, salaries (adjunct and full time) do not come out of monies the department controls.  Most instructional equipment (instructor computer stations and projectors in classrooms), lab computers, software licenses, and some discipline specific equipment (scientific equipment, equipment for art studios, etc.) come from TAF (Technology Access Fee) funds rather than departmental funds.  The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has a budget for faculty computers and these computers are on a replacement cycle.  On the other hand, if departments want to upgrade a faculty member’s computer beyond the standard configuration they can elect to do so out of their operating budgets. 

When departments conduct a search for new faculty member, travel expenses for interviewees and other expenses associated with the search process are the responsibility of the department.  (In some colleges, the dean may defray, from the college budget, part of this expense, but at APSU college budgets are quite low.) When hiring internationally, some expenses related to visas and work permits are paid from the Academic Affairs budget but others are the responsibility of the department.  Depending on the situation, the department can incur a bill of several thousand dollars.  Coordinate with HR and Academic Affairs to try to identify what these expenses are likely to be as soon as your hiring committee has made its final recommendation, as an unplanned expense of several thousand dollars can be devastating to some departments.  Often, however, arrangements can be made by the dean’s or provost’s offices to help the department with these expenses.  The point is to be aware of the potential expense and work with your dean to find solutions.

At the beginning of each academic year monies are placed in the department accounts for operating expenses and for faculty travel/professional development.  Keep in mind that the person who inputs the budget transaction/expense cannot also approve the payment of the expense. Typically the Academic Assistant will enter the invoice or expense, and the chair approves it in Govs eShop.

The operating budget will be, generally, the same as the previous year.  To request an increase for your department, use the University’s Nuventive portal:  https://apsu.edu/budget/budget_briefing_information/index.php

Enter your request for the next year by the deadline on this web page (usually in December or January).  The dean will prioritize requests and present a budget proposal for the college during the University’s Budget Briefings with the Senior Leadership Team.  The Budget Briefings are held in February or March according to the schedule posted on the indicated web page. 

If you are new to the department chair’s job, ask your Academic Assistant to help you identify the recurring expenses that are required to operate your department.  How much do you spend on the copy machine lease?  Office supplies?  Equipment acquisition and maintenance?  Expendable instructional materials?  Paper for the copier?  Program accreditation fees?  Go back two or three years to identify trends so you can make an estimate.  Subtract this from your operating budget.  If there is anything left, you can use that in support of your departmental goals.  Some departments assign to each faculty member an amount that they can spend.  Others keep funds in a pool for the chair to use in support of departmental goals.  Some departments may find that all available funds are used each year just in the operation of the department.   Keeping the department informed of the status of the departmental budget and getting their input on strategic decisions regarding budget allocations is good management practice.

Banner only reflects debits and not encumbrances.   For example, if you approve a travel expense (or any other expenditure, for that matter) it will not show in Banner until the travel claim is filed or the purchase is actually made.  Therefore, many chairs find it helpful for the Academic Assistant to keep a spreadsheet of the budget, similar to a check-book ledger, to reflect actual unencumbered monies that are available to you.

Department professional development funds are calculated by the formula $1,000 times the number of full-time faculty lines, although it’s best to confirm when you add new lines to your department.  This fund is usually called “travel,” but other professional development expenses are permitted and may also be appropriate.  Of course all expenditures must adhere to the university purchasing policies (discussed below). The department chair has discretion in the allocation of the professional development funds, but, if they are allocated in any way other than $1,000 per faculty member, transparency in the allocation process will be important in maintaining the trust and confidence of the faculty. 

With the approval of the dean, funds can be transferred between the operating budget and the “travel” budget.  A “Budget Revision Request” form for this purpose is available here:  https://apsu.edu/budget/forms-and-resources.php

Several departments have access to monies in Foundation Accounts.  Foundation Accounts have been established by donors and earmarked for specific purposes.  For example, some departments have a Chair’s Discretionary Fund.  Expenditures from such a fund must comply with state and university regulations and with any specifications the donors made when the fund was established.   Contact the Office of Budget and Financial Planning (https://apsu.edu/budget/index.php) to find out if any Foundation Accounts have been established for your department.

Depending on your department, there may be other categories in which money is budgeted for your programs.  Some departments, for example, have a budget to pay student workers.  In the past, in some years, some revenue from summer school has been shared back with the departments.

All expenditures out of the operating budget must adhere to APSU’s purchasing policy, which is detailed in the APSU Procurement and Contract Manual: https://www.apsu.edu/procurement/Manual_100617.pdf

This manual contains details of policy and procedures regarding purchasing and travel cards, purchase orders and requisitions, purchasing authority and approvals, approved vendors, bidding, and contracts.  It also has instructions for on-line purchases through Govs e-shop.

As mentioned in the FAQ on the Procurement and Contract Services website,

Bid Thresholds are the maximum limit of purchase that determines how a purchase must be made. Any purchase that exceeds $20,000 must have three quotes. Anything over $100,000 must be done by sealed bids. These are landed costs, to include delivery and any other charges associated with the purchase. It is best to involve Procurement in your needs as early as possible to avoid any unnecessary delays.

https://www.apsu.edu/procurement/frequently-asked-questions.php

Austin Peay students pay Technology Access (TAF) Fees.  These fees are for technology that directly impacts student instruction.  TAF fees are awarded by a committee that vets proposals in the Spring Semester for the following academic year.  Proposals are typically due in early January.  Proposals may be submitted by any faculty or staff member, but you may want to discuss these proposals as a department in light of your departmental goals and strategic plan.  As department chair, you may be asked by the committee to rank the proposals from your department.

Specific guidelines, application forms, and current-year deadlines are found here:  https://www.apsu.edu/taf-allocation-committee/taf-proposals.php

APSU Policy 4:015 Travel governs faculty, staff, and student travel.

Travel FAQ:  https://www.apsu.edu/accounting-services/faq.php

Travel Forms:  https://www.apsu.edu/accounting-services/forms.php

The University no longer owns and operates vehicles, such as 15-passenger vans, for student trips to conferences, service learning, research, or other outings. Please see the Physical Plant website for information regarding the process to reserve a rental vehicle from the university’s contracted vehicle rental provider, Enterprise: https://www.apsu.edu/physical-plant/rental-car.php

If travel is out of state, a travel authorization form https://www.apsu.edu/accounting-services/forms.php is required at least two weeks prior to the start of travel.  Department chairs may approve travel authorizations for travel within the continental United States.  Travel outside the continental United States requires approval of the President.  Travel claims and receipts must be submitted no later than 30 days after the completion of the trip. 

The university currently budgets $1,000 per full time faculty line for faculty travel and/or other professional development.  This money is placed in a separate departmental account (with a different FOAP from the departmental operating budget account.) Some departments and colleges may be able to supplement this budget with other funds.  It is permissible, under current policy, for departments to move money from their operating budgets into their travel accounts, if they can afford to do so.   In order to move money between accounts, a “Request for Budget Revision” must be filled in and approved by the dean:  https://www.apsu.edu/coal/forms/APSU-Request-for-Budget-Revision-Form.pdf



The way the travel money is allocated to individual faculty is at the discretion of the department chair.  

Some chairs may elect to allocate $1,000 per faculty member for travel.  A faculty member who goes over this amount will be expected to pay any overage out of pocket.  A chair who allocates travel funds in this way may still be able to supplement individual faculty travel reimbursements from the travel budget if some faculty do not elect to spend the entire travel allotment.  Therefore, it is important to ask faculty to submit an indication of their travel needs to the chair early in the year.  That way the chair will know how much flexibility he has in funding any overages.  The chair may want to develop an internal form for faculty to submit to the chair in August projecting how much of the $1,000 they plan to spend and if they will be requesting any funds beyond that amount.

There are other strategies that, under current policy, department chairs may use to allocate the department travel funds.  Current policy does not specify how the travel budget is allocated within the department.  Realizing that $1,000 is usually not enough to send a faculty member to a large conference (and pay transportation expenses, hotel expenses, registration fees, food, etc.) a chair might want to fund alternate faculty in alternate years or to apply a criterion to prioritize travel that closely supports departmental goals.  The department chair is advised, however, that such a criterion for prioritizing travel requests be implemented with a clearly stated rubric that has been with developed with faculty input (which probably includes open discussion at departmental meetings) and has been transparently applied.  In other words, the chair is cautioned that departmental faculty will probably feel that any allocation method other than an even distribution of travel funds requires the chair’s adherence to principles of shared governance. 

There are, of course, other forms of professional development other than travel (online workshops and many others) and the chair can choose to fund other types of professional development in place of or in addition to travel.

Student travel at APSU is funded from a variety of sources (SGA, Student Organizations, Professional Organizations, APSU’s Office of Student Research and Innovation, etc.)  Many departments find that supporting student travel to conferences is consistent with departmental goals and learning objectives.  Chairs are permitted to use operating funds and travel funds in support of student travel, if they can afford to do so.  Some departments may have other sources of support (foundation accounts, etc.) to support student travel and other outside-of-class educational experiences.

It is not our intent to restate university travel policy here.  Links have been provided.  We will state some considerations that may be easily overlooked.

It is not permitted for faculty, staff, or students to make a profit from university-funded travel.  While this sounds obvious, it can be easy to inadvertently violate this rule if funding for the same trip comes from multiple sources.  (A conference or grant may partially sponsor a faculty member, and the department may pay the remainder of the expenses, etc.)  Multiple funding sources are probably the norm for student travel.  The department chair may want to develop an internal form asking faculty and students to list all sources of funding with their amounts.  The chair could consult this form to track all the sources of funding prior to approving the final university travel claim amount.

APSU Policy 2:016 Adoption of Textbooks and Ancillary Course Materials governs the adoption of textbooks and ancillary course materials.

The introductory paragraph of the policy is quoted here:

This policy is intended to encourage the use of textbooks for multiple, rather than single, semesters or terms, thereby creating a demand and market for used texts that result in lower costs of educational supplies for students.  Because new editions of existing textbooks typically result in additional costs to students, the adoption of a new edition shall follow the same process as the adoption of a new textbook. Departments/schools are encouraged to adopt identical materials for all sections of a specific course offering.  When practical, departments/schools should adopt textbooks that can be used by multiple courses. 

Most departments have longstanding practices regarding the selection of textbooks for courses.  These practices vary from department to department.  It is reasonable to revisit these practices as a department from time to time to make sure that textbook procedures are serving the students and faculty in the best way.


In your department do all sections of a course use the same text?  If so, how is the decision made?  Some departments use a departmental committee of instructors teaching a particular course to select the textbook(s). It is your responsibility as chair to make sure that there is a procedure in place for textbook selection for each multi-section course.

Do individual instructors make the textbook decision?  If not, who does?  Again, as chair you should make sure that there is a functioning process.

It has been estimated that, in some APSU classes, up to 50% of the students do not have the required text.  This article, from Inside Higher Ed, highlights a similar issue nationwide:  https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/07/26/students-sacrifice-meals-and-trips-home-pay-textbooks   Students who are in a class in which a text is heavily used, and who do not have that text are at a disadvantage.  The overwhelming reason cited for not buying the course text is cost.  Textbook costs have risen drastically, placing them financially out of reach for some of our students.

In some courses in some disciplines, there may be a standard text that must be used in order to maintain the academic standards of the course.  However, in many courses there may be less expensive (or even free) alternatives.  It is the stated goal of the current APSU administration to reduce textbook cost to students.  Are there considerations specific to your discipline that your faculty feel should inform textbook decisions?  If there are best-practice considerations that should, in the judgment of your department, guide textbook selection and if those considerations have not been formalized, you might consider charging a faculty committee draft a set of guidelines.

As of this writing Barnes and Noble is the university contracted bookstore.  The Barnes & Noble textbook manager requests that textbook adoptions be submitted using the Faculty Enlight Software:  https://www.facultyenlight.com/?storeNbr=8233

Working with your department’s Academic Assistant, you should formulate a workable departmental procedure for coordinating with the bookstore and make sure that that procedure is clearly communicated to departmental faculty.  Will faculty (or course textbook committee chairs) send book selections directly to the bookstore, or will faculty send book selections to the Academic Assistant, who will send the selections for the entire department to the bookstore?  The best way to handle these matters will vary from department to department, but you should have a practical and clear procedure that is clearly communicated. 

A very wise precaution is for someone to visit the bookstore about two weeks before classes start to confirm that the correct books are on the shelves.  Identifying problems early enough to correct them is much better than being surprised on the first day of class.

Please keep in mind that APSU has policies and procedures for agreements and contracts with external entities. Please review APSU Policy 2:065 Academic Approval and Signatory Authority for Academic Agreements. This policy establishes the criteria and process for inter-institutional relationships and academic agreements. The University provides requirements for the approval of academic agreements in order to 1) provide sufficient time to review and process the agreement; 2) ensure that the agreement supports the university mission and goals; 3) obtain approval from the appropriate academic office(s); 4) obtain approval from the designated APSU signature authority; and meets SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation and policies.

According to the FAQ on the Procurement and Contract Services webpage: https://www.apsu.edu/procurement/frequently-asked-questions.php 

All Contracts and agreements that need to be signed by the University MUST be reviewed by the office of Procurement and Contract Services.  Once the contract/agreement is reviewed and approved, it will be forwarded to the appropriate person for signature. 

There are a limited number of people who can enter into a binding contract that contractually obligates the University monetarily. These delegations of authority can be found at https://www.apsu.edu/policy/delegation-authority-approval-and-execution-contracts-and-agreements-1010  Unless you are one of these people, you should never sign an agreement or contract as a representative of the University without first consulting the Contract Specialist. You may be held personally liable for the full cost of the contract.

Each department is assigned a staff member with the title Academic Assistant to the Chair.    This person is your very valuable partner in the running of the department, and, if experienced, undoubtedly has knowledge of university procedures that you lack and insight into good management that you will find helpful.  The Academic Assistant can also help you interface with other university constituencies like Procurement and Contracts, the Office of the Registrar, etc.  Developing a productive and professional working relationship with the Academic Assistant to the Chair should be your first priority, as there is almost no aspect of the chair’s job that does not involve the Academic Assistant in some way.   Here is the job description for the Academic Assistant to the Chair (from a recent posting).

This non-exempt staff position reports to and assists the Chair in an academic department by insuring all aspects of the department run smoothly, providing general organizational skills, ability to operate and stay current on the use of various APSU software programs, implementing time saving strategies for recurring deadlines and insuring the most current, accurate information is available to the Chair. This position is often the first point of contact for students and recruits. Under the Chair’s discretion, this position may assist faculty who are assigned specific tasks. Primary Duties and Responsibilities Greet visitors and assist as necessary, answer incoming calls and emails, respond to inquiries or transfer calls to the appropriate person. Pick up and distribution of mail and packages. Process requisitions, payment authorizations, purchase supplies for the office, classrooms, labs/studio/building or other needs as arise in the department. Complete textbook requisitions for the bookstore each semester. Payroll forms both paper & electronic, complete student hiring forms such as W-2, etc., temporary hiring documents, faculty hiring documents, and interview arrangements. Process travel authorizations, travel claims, study abroad documents, purchase airline tickets, make hotel reservations, reserve cars, process conference registrations, request and distribute funds in advance for faculty, students, and Chair. Assist Chair with scholarship awards, department awards, college awards, scheduling student seminars, arranging for speakers, recruitment events and letters, alumni events and letters. Maintain files for office. Catalog course syllabi, student evaluations, work orders, key requests, and swipe card access. Maintain a department calendar. Provide support for office equipment. Maintain departmental web page. May be asked by Chair to assist faculty member assigned to oversee computer labs in the department. Utilizing Chair guidelines, enter permits, assign advisors, workload (TLC) changes, class schedule entry, review and correct bulletins. Supervise and assign work to scholarship and work study students. May be asked to proctor a major field test or exam. Class room usage, DFW reports, enrollment, RTP document signatures, curriculum proposals, TLC reports, and other department specific reports. Assist the Chair in monitoring budgets to include monthly reconciliation with Banner. Complete Dual-service contracts, personal service agreements, and other standard contracts for the Chair’s review and signature. Administrative duties with the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts will be assigned, including managing the literary journal distribution and coordinating visiting writers. Other duties as assigned.

You will notice that there is some flexibility in the details, and exactly what the Academic Assistant does in regard to some department functions may vary from department to department.  (As just one example, across the university Academic Assistants are involved to varying degrees in the development of the schedule of classes.  In some departments the Academic Assistant may only enter the schedule into Banner.  In others, the Academic Assistant may assign classrooms or assume responsibility for some other aspect of scheduling.)  Make sure that you and your Academic Assistant have a good understanding of the Academic Assistant’s role in your department, make sure that that role is consistent with the official job description, and make sure that your Academic Assistant is comfortable with the role assigned.  You should also make sure that the faculty understand the Academic Assistant’s role so that they do not make inappropriate demands.

You will almost certainly find it necessary to identify an administrative team.  In addition to the Academic Assistant to the Chair, the members of this team will vary from department to department, but might include

  • Professional Advisors
  • Dual Enrollment Coordinator
  • Course Coordinators for large multi-section courses
  • Departmental or Program Assessment Coordinators
  • Undergraduate Program Facilitator
  • Certificate Program Facilitator (if your department offers certificates)
  • Graduate Program Coordinator(s) (if your department offers graduate degrees)

With approval of the Provost, the teaching load may be reduced for faculty performing some of these duties.  Some of these duties may naturally fall under ARC in the faculty work-load calculation.  Consult your dean for guidance regarding appropriate and permissible teaching loads for your administrative team.

The Academic Affairs Website gives formal descriptions of three of the roles mentioned in the list above: Graduate Program Coordinator, Undergraduate Program Facilitator, and Certificate Program Facilitator:  https://www.apsu.edu/academic-affairs/staff.php

Departments are required to maintain an archive of syllabi.  University requirements for syllabi content can be found in the Faculty Handbook:  https://www.apsu.edu/academic-affairs/faculty/faculty_handbook/

How are syllabi for multi-section courses generated in your department?  What content is expected to be in all such syllabi (common learning objectives, etc.)  Are faculty aware of the syllabi content that should be uniform and the content that may vary from instructor to instructor?  Do they know where to find common content?  Do they know to whom, how, and when to submit their syllabi each semester?  Give attention to these questions, and make sure that your faculty are informed.

Probably the Academic Assistant maintains the syllabi archive.  Is it in hard copy form or digital?  Is it organized and easily searchable?  The syllabi archive is consulted by accreditation and program review teams.  Departments frequently receive requests from former students who need syllabi to aid in transfer of credits to other institutions, etc.  If an outside constituent requests a syllabus, does it adequately and accurately reflect the course structure and content?

As explained in the Faculty Handbook, being reasonably accessible to students is an expectation of all APSU faculty.  There is no set number of office hours per week required by university policy.  Indeed, accessibility to students involves many possible components, not all of which are applicable to every faculty member.  Here is a (non-exhaustive) list:

  • Participation in D2L discussion forums
  • Timely response to student emails
  • Outside of class (optional for students) review and help sessions
  • Regularly scheduled office hours
  • Availability to students by appointment
  • “Virtual” D2L office hours

For an instructor teaching several on-line classes, physical office hours might not help his/her students at all, but other means of contact with students might be very important.  For other courses, the physical presence of the instructor in the office may be very important.  Some departments may find that a willingness to be available by appointment is more important that scheduled office hours, since scheduled office hours may conflict with student work or class schedules, no matter when they are scheduled.  For these reasons, some departments may elect to set a fixed number of required office hours for faculty, and some may not.  However, all departments should have clear expectations for faculty regarding accessibility to students.

APSU Policy 5:020 Leave Policies governs faculty absences.

Faculty do not accrue annual leave, but sick leave, bereavement leave, and parental leave apply.  Circumstance particular to faculty are also summarized in the Faculty Handbook.  In particular:

All absences from classes, for whatever reason, must be reported promptly to the chair and academic dean on the approved form. This regulation also applies to absences during which classes are held by a substitute instructor. It is a policy of the University that all classes meet as scheduled. Any anticipated absence from class or change of schedule in connection with an absence should be reported to the chair and to the appropriate academic dean on a form provided for this purpose. Absences that are not anticipated should be reported as soon as possible. Arrangements should be made with the chair for classes to be held by another member of the department.

The faculty absence form can be found here:  https://www.apsu.edu/human-resources/forms/fact-absence.pdf

Be sure that the faculty are aware of the expectations when they are absent.  It can put the department chair in a very awkward position to find out after the fact that a faculty member has missed a class or classes.

Do faculty in your department proctor their own tests?  If not, who does?  In some departments, it is the understanding that faculty will proctor their own tests unless they are ill or away at a conference, etc. Does your department have a policy regarding proctoring of assessments in on-line classes?  Clear expectations in these matters can help prevent allegations of academic dishonesty and student complaints about testing procedures.  Again, guidelines that have been reached by departmental consensus are usually best.

As department chair, you should establish internal procedures for these matters, and communicate them clearly to the faculty and the academic assistant.  For example, a real problem is created if an advisor promises a student a substitution with which the chair is not comfortable.  Substitutions within a major or minor are requested in One-Stop by the student’s advisor.  The substitution then goes to the chair for approval.  Substitutions for general education core classes go to the chair of the department associated with the class for approval.  For example a request to substitute for English 1010 would be requested by the advisor in Banner and would go to the Chair of the Department of Languages and Literature for approval. Double check with the Office of the Registrar if “late adds” are permitted after 14th day.

There arise occasions when a student appears to be qualified to take a class, but does not meet the formal prerequisite.  (Perhaps a transfer course is not the same as the APSU prerequisite course, but would involve similar background knowledge.  Perhaps the student participated in an REU that, while not generating credit, provided sufficient exposure to prerequisite material, etc.) As chair, do you want to make these decisions, or do you want to delegate them to the faculty teaching the class?  If a prerequisite override is given, it will need to be entered as a permit in Banner.   In most departments, the actual entering of the permit into Banner is probably done by the Academic Assistant.  The Academic Assistant should know on whose authority he/she can enter a permit.

Department chairs are required to maintain paperwork regarding any grade of incomplete (I) assigned by faculty in their departments.  The required form may be found at https://www.apsu.edu/registrar/forms/fac_forms.php.  Faculty are required to complete this form for any grade of “I” assigned.  The faculty handbook contains more details about grades of “incomplete.”

Depending on the needs of your department, your department may employ lab managers, graduate teaching assistants (GTA’s), student workers, etc.  Consult with Human Resources and the College of Graduate Studies to be sure you and your academic assistant are aware of current policies regarding work assignments, time sheet reporting, and supervision of GTA’s. 

Many departments employ undergraduate student workers to assist faculty and the academic assistant with a variety of tasks.  Regarding recruitment and compensation, undergraduate student workers fall into two categories:

  • Scholarship Workers. These students are required to work a specified number of hours per semester as part of work-study scholarship programs.  You can request that scholarship student workers be assigned to your department by contacting Student Financial Aid.  Your academic assistant will be responsible for certifying that the students work their required number of hours each semester, and for reporting hours worked to Student Financial Aid.
  • Paid Student Workers. If your department budget permits, you can hire student workers.  These positions must be advertised.  The Office of Career Services manages “Jobs4Govs” program. More information can be found on the Career Services webpage dedicated to Jobs4Govs: https://www.apsu.edu/careers/jobs4govs/index.php

Faculty should be reminded that they are required to obtain permission for outside employment.  The relevant policy is APSU Policy 5:014 Outside Employment and Extra CompensationIf a faculty member from another Tennessee state university or community college performs work for APSU or if an APSU faculty member performs work for another Tennessee state institution, a dual services contract must be completed.  (Just one example of when this might occur would be if your department hosts a grant-supported workshop for area K-12 teachers and you contract with a faculty member from another university to conduct workshop sessions.)  All contracts, including dual-services contracts are handled through the APSU Purchasing Office.  A sample dual services agreement can be found here: https://www.apsu.edu/procurement/Dual_Services_Agreement.pdf.