I.6. College Personnel, Committees, and Chair Selection Process

Academic departments and their faculty and staff are linked together in NIU's seven colleges, where the work of the university is coordinated, supported, and rewarded. Because colleges are united around the commonalities of their instructional and scholarly orientation, they also serve as academic communities.

They are responsible for promoting the spirit of the teacher/scholar, nurturing a climate conducive to inquiry, fostering intellectual freedom, and stimulating the pursuit of excellence in the transmission of knowledge. The colleges provide the essential community--the organizational structure and the framework for intellectual interaction--that makes the academic enterprise operational. The colleges, then, are a basic mechanism through which the faculty discharges its prerogatives and responsibilities. Constitution and Bylaws, Article 15.

  • Roles of the Dean and Associate Dean(s). In general, the dean is the academic leader and chief administrative officer of a college and is accountable directly to the Executive Vice President and Provost for aspects of the operation of the college, including its conduct and development as an instructional, research, and public-service unit (APPM, Section II, Item 13). Each college also has one or more associate deans to work directly or indirectly with the dean and to provide supervisory support in the operations and development activities of the college. An effective department chair will develop and maintain a healthy liaison with the college office. As discussed in Section I Chair's Role and Responsibilities and Leadership, it is the chair's responsibility to balance the mission and best interests of the college with those of the department. Such a nuanced relationship cannot happen without open lines of communication between the chair, the dean, and the associate dean(s).
  • The College Business Manager. The department chair has a fiduciary duty of good fiscal stewardship over an assortment of department budgets (see also Section VIII Fiscal Management). In this regard, the college business manager may be an important mentor, especially for a new chair who is still learning about fiscal management issues.
  • College Senate. The college senate consists of the department chairs of the college, the dean of the college, the associate dean(s), and any additional academic personnel that the dean deems appropriate and necessary to the work of the senate. The college senate is not only a venue for communicating with the dean and associate dean(s) but is also a salient network of support and the opportunity to work in collaboration with other department chairs, who are the chair's peers, despite his or her faculty status.
  • College Council. The college council consists of faculty members whose responsibilities include the review of personnel and policy decisions at the college level. On occasion, the department chair will meet with the college council and is well-advised to take the counci's power in the policymaking process very seriously as a key component in the organizational structure of faculty governance. In this case, the chair needs to be both timely and thorough (but not excessive) in providing the relevant information to the council for its consideration, especially when the occasion involves the appeal of a tenure and promotion decision.
  • Chair Selection Process. One important function of the college, in conjunction with the department's search committee, is the selection of a new chair. The dean of the college, or the dean's designee, chairs the search committee. The process is detailed in the Constitution and Bylaws, Article 18.341. It is the search committee's responsibility to survey faculty, staff, and students to determine which candidates are acceptable for appointment; however, it is the dean who ultimately appoints one of the recommended candidates or who determines that none of the department's candidates is acceptable.

    If the chair seeks to have another term, the review and reappointment process is also initiated by the dean in the spring of the penultimate year of the chair's term of service. At this time, the dean consults the department faculty to determine whether or not the incumbent chair should be offered an additional term. If the review and evaluation of the chair indicates that reappointment is inappropriate, the dean can start the selection process for a new chair.