Chapter 4

Organization of Academic Affairs

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Academic Colleges and Schools

4.3 Responsibilities and Duties of a Dean

4.4 Establishment, Review and Dissolution of a Department

4.5 Responsibilities and Duties of a Department Chair

4.6 An Academic Program Outside the Departmental Structure

4.6.1 Responsibilities and Duties of a Program Chair

4.6.2 Selection and Appointment of a Program Chair

4.7 Comprehensive Program Review

4.8 Other Academic Units Reporting to the Provost

4.8.1 Enrollment Services

4.8.2 Continuing Education

4.8.3 Co-operative Education

4.8.4 Honors Program

4.8.5 Institute for Science Education

4.8.6 Office of Multicultural Affairs

4.8.7 Alabama Space Grant Consortium

4.8.8 Alliance for Minority Participation Program

4.9 Selection, Appointment, and Evaluation of an Academic Director


4.1 Introduction

The provost and vice president for academic affairs is the chief academic officer of the university. Reporting to the provost are the associate provosts, the deans of the colleges, the dean of the library, the dean of the School of Graduate Studies, and the assistant vice president for enrollment services (recruiting, admissions, and records). Academic directors reporting to the provost include the directors of continuing education, the co-operative education program, the honors program, the office of multicultural affairs, the institute for science education, the alliance for minority participation, and the space grant consortium. The structure of academic affairs is shown below.

4.2 Academic Colleges and Schools

Within academic affairs, there are five colleges: administrative science, engineering, liberal arts, nursing, and science. The school of graduate studies and the library, each with a dean, are also located in academic affairs. All colleges except nursing contain departments headed by chairs who report to the dean. Each college administers courses of instruction leading to the baccalaureate degree and furnishes courses of instruction and faculty in support of graduate degrees administered by the School of Graduate Studies. The academic department serves the dual functions of administering courses of instruction leading to degrees and of administering faculty, students, staff, and physical plant.

In an effort to encourage interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, research, and public service, UAH has interdisciplinary groupings of scholars that are more flexible and transitory than academic departments. These groupings bring together faculty from two or more departments and experts from outside the university to address new ideas. They may then disband without altering departmental structures or, if needed on a long-term basis, become a permanent part of the university's structure.

4.3 Responsibilities and Duties of a Dean

An academic dean is the chief administrative and academic officer of the college, school, or library in which he or she serves. The dean is responsible for the administration of operations and activities of the college or school. He or she functions under the supervision of the provost and sits on the provost's academic council. A dean holds a tenured faculty appointment in an academic department.

The responsibilities of the dean of a college fall into three basic areas: college planning, college operations, and college and university leadership. While all deans have responsibilities in each of these areas, the relative importance of the area will differ from one college to another depending on the mission of the college and its stage of development. The dean is the chief operating officer of the college and has overall responsibility for instructional, research, and service programs; student services; faculty and staff personnel procedures; and budgetary matters. Information concerning the specific responsibilities and duties of a dean as chief operating officer is available in the Office of the Provost.

The dean provides leadership through systematic communication with faculty and students in the college; university colleagues; alumni; the community; and the disciplines or professions. Major functions of the dean include providing leadership to department and program chairs, faculty, and staff in the development, operation, and improvement of academic and research programs; developing and recommending to the provost of budgets for departments, programs and academic support areas; recommending to the provost actions on appointments, promotions, tenure, sabbaticals, and terms of employment of faculty and staff within the college; and reviewing and recommending action by the provost on faculty leaves and faculty exchanges. For procedures on selection, appointment, evaluation, and reassignment of a dean, see Appendix A.

Associate deans or assistant deans are appointed by the dean, after consulting the provost and the faculty of the affected college. Normally the appointment of an associate or assistant dean occurs as the result of an internal search. They may assist the dean with planning, budgets, personnel matters, student and faculty recruitment and retention, program administration, program development, program evaluation, and supervision of support functions. An associate or assistant dean normally holds an academic appointment in the college in which he or she serves. For procedures on evaluation of associate or assistant deans, see Appendix A.

4.4 Establishment, Review, and Dissolution of a Department

A department may be formed only within a college or school. The department is both an academic unit and an administrative unit of the college or school. Normally, a department has a sufficient number of faculty to be a viable organizational unit and offers at least one major or program for an undergraduate or graduate degree.

The performance and relevance of a department normally are reviewed at least every five years or in conjunction with a department's professional accreditation review cycle. Findings and recommendations of review committees are submitted to the provost. After consultation and agreement with the president, the provost may recommend that a department be continued, or a proposal to dissolve or reorganize the department may be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for review and approval. (See Section 4.7)

4.5 Responsibilities and Duties of a Department Chair

The chair is expected to provide academic leadership for the department. He or she is accountable to the dean and the university administration for implementing the plans, goals, and policies of the university. The chair has administrative responsibility for insuring the quality and effectiveness of the department's instructional, research, and service programs. Department chairs have the responsibility to provide leadership in formulating and in implementing departmental goals and long-range plans; to represent the department internally within administrative and governance structures of the university and externally with professional and community groups; to provide comprehensive programs of academic advising that involve the faculty and support the university's student recruitment, services, and retention programs; to insure that high standards are maintained in curricula, course content, and instruction; to provide a communication link between and among the faculty and the other levels of administration; to prepare course schedules, assign courses and teaching loads, and recommend course scheduling to the dean within the context of meeting student needs; to develop an outstanding faculty of teacher-scholars by encouraging and facilitating their professional development; and to promote an academic environment that is scholarly and humanistic and that affirms the university's nondiscriminatory policies.

For procedures on selection, appointment, evaluation, and reassignment of a department chair, see Appendix B.

4.6 An Academic Program Outside the Departmental Structure

Occasionally the university needs to establish an academic program outside the departmental structure, typically for an interdisciplinary graduate program. In such cases, faculty from two or more departments staff the program. A program may be formed between or within a college or school. In the event faculty from two or more colleges or schools are involved, the program proposal will identify one of the colleges or schools as the primary college or school for administrative purposes. A proposal for a new program must follow the current guidelines approved by the university. A faculty member does not earn tenure in an academic program outside the departmental structure. The administrative officer of the program is the program chair. The program chair reports to a dean who, with the program chair, selects faculty members to form the program committee. The program committee establishes academic policies and procedures and acts on matters requiring faculty decisions. After the program is fully operational, the program faculty or an elected program committee conducts the program.

4.6.1 Responsibilities and Duties of a Program Chair

The chair is expected to provide academic leadership for the program. The chair is accountable to the dean of the college or school and the university administration for implementing the plans, goals, and policies of the university. The chair has administrative responsibility for insuring the quality and effectiveness of the program's instructional, research, and service components. Other responsibilities are similar to those of department chairs.

4.6.2 Selection and Appointment of a Program Chair

A program chair is appointed by a dean with review and final approval by the provost. The appointment is made after considering the evaluations and advice of the faculty. The dean meets with the program faculty as a group to discuss the duties and responsibilities of the position. Candidates are sought from the tenured faculty members in the program. If no suitable tenured candidate exists, a tenure-earning candidate may be appointed. The faculty is given an opportunity to review the resumes of the candidates and to vote on the choices available. The dean chairs all formal meetings to consider a chair.

Upon completion of the search process, the dean solicits from individual program faculty members a summary of their evaluation and advice on each final candidate. In the event that the dean does not secure the appointment of a chair from the list of candidates who have general faculty support, the search process normally shall be continued until a chair acceptable to the dean and the provost is successfully recruited. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the dean will select a chair from those candidates who have general faculty support. Procedures for the reappointment and reassignment of program chairs will follow those established for department chairs. (See Appendix B)

A program chair normally has a calendar-year appointment and is appointed to a four-year term of office. The chair will continue to teach on a regular basis but with a reduced teaching load. The extent of the load reduction and the type of appointment is established for each program by the provost upon recommendation by the dean and depends upon the size and scope of the program's activities.

4.7 Comprehensive Program Review

A comprehensive review to evaluate academic programs will be undertaken by the provost, normally every five years or in conjunction with a department's professional accreditation review cycle. As part of the review process, the unit conducts a self-study, and a review committee of faculty with an external consultant writes reports addressing strengths and weaknesses of the program. Findings and recommendations are submitted to the provost. Follow-up procedures are agreed upon by the dean, the department or program chair or director, and the provost. If warranted, after consultation and agreement with the president, a proposal to dissolve the program may be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for review and approval. Procedures for review are contained in the Manual for Comprehensive Academic Program Reviews, available in offices of the deans or in the Office of the Provost.

4.8 Other Academic Units Reporting to the Provost

4.8.1 Enrollment Services

The division was created in 1988 to bring together several separate units as a cohesive team with a common goal of providing better service to prospective and enrolled students. Units included in enrollment services are the offices of financial aid, admissions, student recruitment, international student advisement, records and registration, testing and instructional services, scheduling, and the registrar. Compliance with NCAA eligibility rules for athletes is an additional responsibility.

4.8.2 Continuing Education

The Division of Continuing Education is responsible for providing nontraditional students with the highest quality learning opportunities through special activities. While building on the strength of the university faculty, departments and colleges, the division designs courses to enhance the professional and personal skills of its participants and clients. The division is made up of units in personal development, science and engineering, environmental studies, management development and computer applications, conferences, teaching the future, intercampus interactive telecommunication system, and engineering management distance learning.

4.8.3 Co-operative Education

The Cooperative Education Program (Co-op) is an academic program that serves students, employers, the university, and the community. The co-op experience enhances students' academic studies through practical work experience, increases their marketability at graduation, and helps pay tuition costs. The co-op staff recruits current and prospective students to the program, prepares students for interviewing and career decision-making, monitors work assignments for quality, and provides professional development activities.

4.8.4 Honors Program

The Honors Program is a university-wide program, providing academically talented undergraduates with an expanded and enriched version of the curriculum. As freshmen and sophomores, students take honors versions of some general education courses and the Honors Forum. At the junior level, students take interdisciplinary seminars, the proposals for which are solicited from the faculty each year. As seniors, the students conduct independent research and complete an honors project. Students are admitted as entering freshmen, but those already studying at UAH can also be admitted.

4.8.5 Institute for Science Education

The Institute for Science Education (ISE) was established in 1990 to provide a mechanism to assist in solving problems in precollege science and mathematics education. The Institute works cooperatively with the Colleges of Science and Engineering, the Department of Education, and the Division of Continuing Education. In carrying out its mission to provide leadership and coordination for projects and programs to effect improvement of precollege science and mathematics education, the ISE works closely with all appropriate elements of business, school systems, government, and industry.

4.8.6 Office of Multicultural Affairs

This office was established in 1990 to foster an understanding and respect for cultural diversity throughout the university. Its programs are designed for minority as well as non-minority students in order to promote a sense of community and an acceptance of multiculturalism and racial tolerance on campus. It sponsors visiting speakers and workshops, offers a variety of student-oriented programs and activities, and assists with the recruitment and retention of minority students and faculty.

4.8.7 Alabama Space Grant Consortium

The Alabama Space Grant Consortium includes five Ph.D. granting universities, all with space-related research activities. UAH, a space grant university, is the lead institution. Other members are Alabama A&M University, Auburn University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The consortium awards fellowships, scholarships, and research grants and supports seminars, workshops, and educational outreach programs. There is an active program to recruit individuals from traditionally under-represented groups into careers in aerospace science, technology, and allied fields.

4.8.8 Alliance for Minority Participation Program

The Alabama Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP) includes UAH and twelve

other colleges and universities whose purpose is to increase substantially the number of minority students completing bachelor's degrees in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the UAH AMP program provides undergraduate students with scholarships, tutorial and mentoring support, an academic resource center, and summer research internships. AMP also promotes the attainment of graduate degrees by minority students in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

4.9 Selection, Appointment, and Evaluation of an Academic Director

Whenever the selection of an academic director becomes necessary, the provost appoints a search committee to identify and to make recommendations on acceptable candidates. The committee establishes procedures inviting participation in the search process by appropriate faculty, staff, and administrators. The committee conducts a national search unless limited by fiscal restraints as determined by the provost, in which case the search may be limited to internal candidates. After the search and screening procedures have been concluded and a report forwarded to the provost, the provost appoints a director upon recommendation to and concurrence of the president. An academic director normally has a calendar-year appointment.

A comprehensive evaluation of a director is conducted every fifth year of continuing appointment and includes a review of the incumbent's leadership quality, professional competence, working relationships, and accomplishment of goals. The provost appoints a committee to conduct the comprehensive review. The committee solicits written evaluations by appropriate faculty, staff, students, and academic administrators. An underlying principle of the entire evaluation process, however, requires that all analyses be supported by factual documentation, and that the evaluations be based exclusively upon the consideration of professional standards of performance. These views are an important component of any personnel decision by the provost growing out of the review. The committee forwards the evaluation report to the provost who meets with the director to discuss the committee report.