Questions for Your Chair

Questions for Your Chair

Department and School Expectations

  1. What are the key department and school values and priorities that I need to consider as I determine my goals and plan my work?
  2. How are the department and schools organized?  (Divisions, committees?)  How are decisions made and communicated?
  3. Is there an organization chart available for the department and/or school?
  4. Is there a department and/or school faculty handbook?
  5. What support is provided to new faculty at the department and/or school level?
  6. When and where are faculty meetings held for the department and school?  What is the purpose of these meetings?  Am I expected to attend all of them?
  7. What are the best ways to keep informed on what is happening in the department and school?
  8. Is there a department and/or school e-mail list?
  9. What advice do you have for responding to any controversial matters in the department and/or school?  To whom do I go to about disputes?
  10. Are there any department/school/university seminars, study groups, or research groups I might want to be involved with?




University Expectations

  1. How is the university organized?  How are decisions made and communicated?  Is there an organization chart available for the university?
  2. To be successful, what do I need to understand about the DSU culture, environment, and mission?
  3. How do I negotiate the intersection between the university’s needs and my goals and aspirations?
  4. When/where are university  forums and what is the faculty attendance expectations?




Professional Development Opportunities

  1. What faculty development opportunities are available on or off campus?  What financial resources are available to support professional development?
  2. What is the policy and procedure for attending professional development seminars, workshops, and conferences?  What is expected of me?  What is recommended?
  3. Who can assist me in selecting an experienced faculty member to serve as a mentor? What kind of help can I expect from a mentor?
  4. Given my background and interests, which faculty members and professionals should I be getting to know?
  5. What special resources are available for minority faculty (female faculty, ethnically-diverse faculty, international faculty, faculty with disabilities, etc.)?
  6. What fellowships might I apply for now or in the future? How valuable are these experiences?
  7. What type of professional development leave is available in the future?  How do I plan for this?




General Logistics – Secretarial and Monetary Support

  1. What kind of work does the department secretary do? What requests are appropriate and what is inappropriate?  What kind of help can I expect from the department secretary?
  2. What other support staff is there in the department/school?  What are their individual roles and responsibilities?  What kind of work can they assist me with?  What is the best way to request assistance?
  3. What expenses and supplies are covered by the department and/or school, and how are they obtained?
  4. What is the procedure for purchasing work-related items (books, journals, classroom materials)?
  5. How can I obtain needed computer equipment and upgrades?
  6. Will the department pay for work-related travel? What policies and forms do I need to be aware of?




Teaching – Expectations

  1. What is the expected teaching load for new faculty?  For tenured faculty?
  2. What is my teaching schedule now and in the immediate future?
  3. What other teaching-related work is expected of me?
  4. Can I propose adjustments to my teaching schedule?  How?
  5. Is it a “good idea” to develop a new course?  Can I teach a specialized course in my research area?  How can I use a special-topics course to get a new research project off the ground?
  6. What is the procedure for proposing a new course?  How do I promote it?
  7. Is it good to teach “service courses” (general education)?  Is it good to teach the same course, stay within a single area, or “teach around”?  What about graduate courses, undergraduate courses, GE or honors courses, seminars, lectures, laboratory work, recitations, field work, special topics?
  8. What is the department/school attitude toward online courses?  Can I choose to develop one?  Is it a wise decision? What assistance is available for course development?  Who can help?  What is the role of the CTL (Center for Teaching & Learning)?
  9. What kind of student assistance can I expect?  Can I hire a teaching assistant?  How?  What can I expect a teaching assistant to do?  What are the department policies regarding teaching assistants?
  10. How many students must be registered for a course to “carry”?
  11. Is their a salary differential for teaching large classes?  What are the cutoff points?
  12. What types of alternative/experiential/service-oriented teaching are valued?  What types of alternative/experiential/service-oriented teaching are frowned on?




Teaching – Policies

  1. What are the procedures for planned and unplanned absences?
  2. What is the policy regarding student field trips? What safety issues do I need to be concerned about?
  3. What policies specifically apply to final exams?  How do I find out when final exams for my courses are scheduled?
  4. What is the policy on inviting guest lecturers to class?  Can the department pay an honorarium?
  5. Are there any department/school policies or guidelines on grading?  What is the suggested frequency of midterms and exams?
  6. Can I penalize students for missing class?  What responsibility do I have to help the student catch up?




Teaching – Logistics

  1. How do I order texts for my students?  How do I order desk copies of course texts?
  2. What is my role in helping students add or drop my course?
  3. How do I put materials on reserve at the library (or elsewhere) for students to read?
  4. What are the important teaching deadlines (course evaluations, grade submissions, etc.)?
  5. How do I learn about any program, department, GE, or Honors objectives for my course that I should consider as I develop my course objectives?




Teaching – Pedagogy & Teacher Development

  1. What is the DSU Mission Statement and how does it impact my teaching?
  2. What resources are available for improving teaching skills?
  3. What resources are available for developing new courses: curriculum, instructional design, technology integration, student assessment (including writing good exams), setting objectives, writing a syllabus?
  4. What resources are available for developing lesson plans?
  5. Are there departmental/school funds for teaching?  How do I access these funds?
  6. What kind of student teaching assistance can I expect?  Can I hire a teaching assistant?  How many?  What are the department policies regarding student assistants?
  7. How can the DSU Center for Teaching & Learning assist me in my teaching?
  8. How much time should I plan to spend on my course preparation?




Teaching – Student Advisement and Office Hours

  1. What are the expectations for advising students? How much time should I spend advising students?  What materials do I need in order to appropriately advise students?
  2. How many office hours per week are appropriate?  Where do I post my office hours?
  3. What value is placed on involving students in scholarly presentations?
  4. Can I take/accompany students to conferences?
  5. What resources are available for students that I should be aware of?  Students with physical disabilities?  International students?  Students with learning disabilities? Nontraditional adult students?
  6. Who can be consulted about student problems?
  7. How do I respond to students who are stressed? How do I handle students who are worried about losing their scholarship because of me/my class?
  8. What files should I keep on my students that might help me either in the rank-and-status process or in writing reviews/recommendations for them?
  9. What are the expectations for international students?  Should I make any special accommodations?




Teaching – Services

  1. What services are available and what are the policies for using the Testing Center?
  2. What library services are available for faculty or for students?
  3. What student labs are available on campus? Writing labs?  Math lab?  Stats lab?
  4. Are there department/school computer labs?  What other types of labs are available for me/my students?  How do I/my students access any labs?




Teaching – Employing/Mentoring Students

  1. How do I identify good students?  How aggressive should I be in recruiting them? Do I need to find money/equipment/space for them?
  2. What can/should I pay students? What resources can I promise to them? What policies should I be aware of in regard to employing students? Can I employ assistants from off-campus?
  3. How many students should I expect to supervise?  How many students are too many?  How much time/effort should I be investing in my students?  How much advising should I expect to do?
  4. What can I expect from undergraduate students? Graduate Students?
  5. How do I identify a problem student?
  6. How do I promote my students to the rest of the community?




Teaching – Technology

  1. What is the availability of technology-rich, multimedia classrooms?  (What are they; where are they?) Are they available to junior faculty?  How are they scheduled?
  2. What audiovisual equipment is available and how do I arrange to use it?
  3. Can I require students to submit assignments electronically?
  4. Can I require students to have and use a laptop?
  5. How can the Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) help me?
  6. How can I learn to use Canvas? Who is using it effectively in our department?




Teaching – Student Grievances

  1. What protection do faculty members have in the case of student grievances (legal assistance, use of a lawyer, funds for defense, etc.)?  Will the university back faculty until proven guilty?  What is the grievance process?
  2. What should I do if I am threatened by students or parents?  What is the appropriate process to follow?




Teaching – Department/School Curriculum

  1. What degree programs and other programs does the department offer?
  2. How are students admitted to these programs?  What role will I play in admitting students?
  3. Are there required courses for a degree in this department that are taught outside the department?  What should I know about these other departments and their courses?




Teaching – Evaluation

  1. What student ratings process is in place?  What is my responsibility to make sure these take place?
  2. What added opportunities for course evaluation exist on campus?
  3. How will my teaching be evaluated for rank and status purposes?  How much do student teaching evaluations count?
  4. What documentation should I retain in my personal files?  Course syllabi?  Course exams?   Student comments?
  5. What is the process for peer review? How can I make certain that my teaching is evaluated beyond student evaluations?  Will a faculty member be selected for peer review?  How will that faculty member be selected?
  6. Who can assist me in interpreting my student course evaluations and other feedback I get on my teaching?




Scholarship and Creative Activities – Expectations

  1. Where should I publish?  What should I publish?  How much/often?  Are there quantity/quality standards for promotion?  How do journal/chapters in edited collections/(refereed or unrefereed) conferences compare?  Should I write/edit a book?
  2. For creative works, what are the scholarly expectations? What “counts” for scholarship? Approximately how many exhibits/performances, etc. should I plan to do each year?
  3. What conferences should I attend?  Do I need to present a paper in order to attend? How much travel is allowed/expected/required?
  4. As a new faculty member, how important are grants?  How do I locate appropriate grants and other funds for the type of research I do? How much effort should I be investing in fundraising?  What are the tradeoffs?  How can I find resources/people to assist me in writing the best possible proposal or to draw up the budget?
  5. What are the important university policies and regulations I need to be aware of with the type of research I do? What about Institutional Review Board (IRB)? Safety policies for me and for my students (are students covered under OSHA)? Overhead? Benefits? Budget sheets?




Scholarship and Creative Activities – Advice

  1. In regard to my 3rd and 6th year reviews, what type of scholarship and creative works counts? What does NOT count?
  2. When and how should graduate students’ or a colleague’s work be acknowledged in my papers or creative works?  As authors? As researchers?
  3. At my stage, how important is first authorship?  How is alphabetical listing of authors viewed?
  4. Is it better to go to large conferences or smaller workshops?  In what other ways can I gain the type of exposure I need?
  5. Is it helpful to send published reports to colleagues elsewhere?
  6. Will there be opportunities to share my research or creative activities formally within the department? How often?  How are colloquia in the department organized? In what other ways should I promote my work within the department?  What about my graduate students?
  7. Should I give talks at other universities/institutions/business sites?  How often?  Where?  How valuable is this?  How do I get invited to give such talks?
  8. May material published in one place (i.e. conference proceedings) be resubmitted to a different journal?  How much new work is necessary to make it a “new publication?”
  9. How important is it to have singly-authored papers/creative works?
  10. Is collaborative work encouraged or discouraged in my department/field?  With other members of my department?  With international colleagues?  With colleagues who are more senior or better known?  With junior colleagues/graduate students?  Long-standing collaborations, or single efforts?
  11. Is there a departmental/school research group I could join?  Should I form a research group?  What sorts of activities should the group do, as opposed to I and/or an individual student?
  12. How important is it to get to know influential people in the field and to develop a network of colleagues?  What are some strategies for doing this?
  13. Are there faculty members in the department who are open to collaborating on projects? What are some good approaches to invite collaboration?
  14. Are there any type of topics that I should try to avoid?




Scholarship and Creative Activities – Resources

  1. What research resources are available to me as a new faculty member (licensed software, university equipment/labs, fungi, etc.)?
  2. Are there departmental/school funds for research?  How do I access these funds?
  3. What kind of student research assistance can I expect?  Can I hire a research assistant?  How many?  What are the department policies regarding student assistants?
  4. What are the important professional associations and journals in this department?
  5. Who is the subject-area librarian for this department?  What assistance can I expect from him/her?  What other resources does our library have that I should be familiar with?





  1. What is expected of me as a “good university citizen”?
  2. What committees will I be expected to serve on?
  3. How are faculty placed on committees?  Who can ask me to serve on committees?  Can I say “no” to a committee assignment?
  4. How much time should I expect to spend on committee work in this department?  In this school?  Campus-wide?  Is there a limit to the time I should devote to committees (and other service)?
  5. How important is service outside of the university?  How much time should I spend?  How much reviewing of papers and proposals is reasonable?  Review boards?  Journal editorships?
  6. What is the policy on inviting guest lecturers to a department or school forum?  Can the department or school pay an honorarium?




Rank and Status Procedures

  1. How long is my appointment?  When will I be reviewed?  What sort of review?  What is the process (who, what do I look for, how will I receive information, etc.)?
  2. What is the Faculty Development Plan and how do I use it for my professional development?
  3. What mentoring assistance or other help is available for the rank and status process?  How will the department and/or school assist me?
  4. How can I get useful feedback on my performance?
  5. When are Annual Stewardship Interviews held?  What do I need to do to prepare?  What can I expect during the interview?  What the are consequence/results of this interview?
  6. What information is important to include in my vita?
  7. What should go in my dossier?
  8. How should I go about finding people to write letters for me?  How many will I need?  From where?  International/domestic?
  9. Should I send copies of congratulatory letters to my department chair?
  10. Who sits on rank and advancement committees at each level?  How often does the committee membership change?  How much time will they spend looking at my dossier?  Specifically, what are they looking for?




Time Management

  1. How can I prioritize my time among my university responsibilities: teaching, research and publication, creative works, committees and other service, student advisement, etc.
  2. What strategies have proven effective in helping faculty to balance their work, family, and other obligations?
  3. What resources are available at the university to assist me with time management?




Consulting & Ownership (Intellectual and Physical)

  1. When I produce ideas and materials, what does the university consider theirs and what may I claim as mine?
  2. What are the policies regarding consulting?
  3. Can I market products I develop on or off campus?  Who can assist me?




Working from Home

  1. How is working from home viewed?
  2. How visible must one be in this department?



Salary and Pay Raises

  1. What is the source of money for faculty salaries?
  2. How does the university determine cost of living and merit increases?
  3. What is a typical raise?
  4. Can I negotiate an increase in salary after I have been hired?
  5. When and how will I find out about a raise?
  6. Can I be paid extra for working in the summer? How does that work?




Faculty Perks

  1. What faculty discounts are available at the DSU Bookstore?
  2. Are there any other faculty discounts available (fine arts, athletics, etc.)?




University Vehicles

  1. When is it appropriate to use a university vehicle?
  2. How do I reserve the use of a university vehicle?
  3. How do I submit expenses like gas for reimbursement?
  4. What about accident insurance?




Personal and Family Issues

  1. What activities and benefits does the University provide for faculty dependents?
  2. What policies does the University have for family and personal leave?  How are such things handled in this department?



  1. Is there a mandatory or suggested retirement age?
  2. What kind of relationship can I continue to have with the university after retirement?
  3. Are there any emeritus perks?