Responsibilities of Chair & Program Coordinators

Orignal version: 8/27/06, Peter Taylor

1. Overview: The Department of Curriculum & Instruction (C&I) has always consisted of a number of graduate programs with separate student bodies and academic procedures, but after three months of working as the Chair under the revised constitution that explicitly acknowledges that “federalist” structure, I see the need to clarify how the Chair’s and the program coordinators’ responsibilities are divided and related.
I see our joint, primary goal as fostering the intellectual & professional development of students in the programs within C&I. It is my belief that the people who have to do that work, namely, the members of each program, are the ones best able to decide how best to direct their not unlimited energies to this work under the conditions and constraints they face. In that spirit, I see my role as Chair being to support that work, through:
  • arranging administrative support and advocating for other resources;
  • promoting planning to matches resources and capabilities with needs and ensuring careful evaluation of progress and subsequent revision of plans;
  • insisting on equity, transparency, and democratic procedures in making and implementing decisions; and
  • affording programs autonomy in staffing and scheduling decisions—provided they fall within budgetary, union, room availability, affirmative action, and other formal constraints.

2. Constitutionally defined Roles. The work of Program Coordinator follows the revised C&I constitution as ratified by the Dean in April. In particular,

III. C. Program Coordinators
1. Each graduate program associated with the Department, shall have a Program Coordinator, who shall be recommended for a three-year term by simple majority vote of the voting program faculty. To be an eligible candidate for election as Program Coordinator, a member of the program must have an appointment that runs through the three year term of office.

2. The election of the Program Coordinator, which shall ordinarily take place in the spring, becomes effective as soon as possible, but no later than the semester following the election.

3. The Program Coordinator’s appointment is subject to the approval by the Department Chair, in consultation with the Dean of the College. If the Chair does not approve the Program’s choice, a letter of explanation shall be presented to the Program.

4. In the event of a Coordinator resigning or leaving office prior to the completion of the term, the Department Chair, in consultation with members of the Program, shall appoint an acting Coordinator until an election which must be held within the academic year.

5. Subject to the Chair’s ultimate authority for administrative functions and budgets, the Program Coordinator shall be responsible for the following types of activities: coordinating recruitment, supervising admissions process, supervising enrollment and registration, coordinating student advising, acting as liaison for governance, approving curricular and Program proposals, preparing proposed course schedules, certifying degree or certificate completion, preparing data for annual reports, convening Program meetings, advising the Chair on Program issues.

6. The Program Coordinator appoints admissions and awards sub-committees, as specified in this Constitution, and may delegate responsibilities to a member(s) of the Program faculty.

The phrase in III.C.5 “Subject to the Chair’s ultimate authority for administrative functions and budgets” is elaborated in III.A.9

9. The Chair is responsible for delegating administrative functions of the Department and its programs, and for convening, receiving, and acting on the recommendations of committees working on departmental matters including but not limited to: operation of each program, teaching assignments, admissions, scheduling, academic curriculum, and personnel matters, and providing an annual report to the Department on these issues.

3. Planning & Evaluating: As Chair, my expectations of all Program coordinators in C&I are that they will: prepare specific plans about how to fulfill the administrative functions listed in III.C.5 (elaborated in appendix); evaluate and report on progress; propose steps to remedy shortcomings (i.e, revise the plans); and consult with members of their programs (as constitutionally defined) in such planning and evaluating. Developing new directions in which a program might move should not take precedence over serving the current students through efficient administration and following through on previously established plans.

4. Program committees: Of course, program coordinators cannot be expected to fulfill all the administrative tasks on their own. They need to enlist program members and generate proposals for support from the staff serving the Department.

D. Program Committees
1. For each graduate program associated with the Department, there shall be a committee consisting of all full time academic faculty who hold positions of Clinical Faculty, Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor and who regularly teach courses offered by the Program. Part-time lecturers who teach in programs may also serve on the Program Committee, but without voting rights. The Program Committee may also appoint as non-voting members other UMass Boston employees who will advise students in the program.

2. The Program Committee, under the leadership of the Program Coordinator, shall meet to discuss curricular and program changes, student progress, outreach activities, and other matters referred to it by the Program Coordinator or Departmental Chair.

5. Program meetings: In view of the constitutional categories of Department and program membership, and of the distinction in the Union contract between lecturers whose responsibilities include service and other lecturers, if coordinators want to restrict attendance in any program meeting, say, to voting members only, or to voting members plus lecturers expected to be doing service, they should be explicit and consistent about which categories are invited and should communicate what happens to the full program membership. An agenda should always be circulated in advance and allow for input from program members. Although program coordinators must take initiative in proposing policy and seeing that it is implemented, program plans, policies and practices are decided democratically by the voting members of each program. Although these decisions are “subject to the Chair’s ultimate authority for administrative functions and budgets,” I do not plan to exercise that authority without first bringing my concerns to the program committees and inviting them to formulate an appropriate response to those concerns.

6. Plans for 06-07: In reference to #3 & 4, I refer to each Program Committee the requests for specific plans based on my emails to coordinators on 6/1 and 8/7 (see appendix). I request that these plans be ready in writing by 9/12, building on email exchanges between coordinators and me before we meet on 8/29, on that meeting, and on the Program Committee meeting of 8/31. As Chair, I plan to review the program plans with coordinators, evaluate progress and suggest improvements at the start of the fall semester, before the start of the spring semester, and right after commencement.

7. Graduate Program Director(s): The official GCE policy (announced 9/5/00 & effective 1/27/01) is that the Department chairs are the Graduate Program Directors for the programs within their departments. I have been advocating that this policy be reconsidered and would like equity restored in course releases and stipends for those who have been actually doing the work of GPDs in the College of Education. However, while this policy remains I have delegated to C&I's program coordinators the responsibilties given by III.C.5 in the C&I constitution (see above) and asked that the coordinators be included in university directories and email lists as the contact people for the separate programs. I expect program coordinators to take turns attending the GPD meetings and reporting back to the other coordinators and the Chair.

8. Program coordinators’ meetings: At these meetings we should discuss issues that cut across programs; share insights and tricks-of-the-trade for efficient administration of our programs; and shape requests for administrative and financial support from the College. In order to minimize the understandable tendency people have to appeal to a higher authority when they do not feel heard within their program or within the Department, it is important that the program coordinators convey the tensions among views as well as the majority decisions when communicating with the Chair and other coordinators. The Chair should get more involved if there are questions about whether all voices are being acknowledged or program decisions and policies are not being implemented by its coordinator.

9. Relationship between College admin, Chair, and program coordinators. Faculty are always entitled to bring concerns about their working conditions to their Dean, but, on program matters, I will ask the Dean to inquire first whether they have been taken up the concern with the Chair, given that program coordinators in C&I report to the Chair. Program coordinators meetings provide a forum for suggesting additions and changes to this memorandum. Reciprocally, the Dean knows that I expect to be consulted about administrative functions affecting programs that have been moved to the College level, and that I intend not to make recommendations to the Dean without bringing the relevant program coordinators into the discussion.

Appendix: Template for plans for program administrative tasks, 06-07
(For each task or subtask identify whether it is to be done, how, and by whom. Generate proposals/requests for specific admin. support and/or clarification/revision of this template.)

Admin & general student advising

1. Prepare course schedule (State & CCDE), get chair’s approval, and ensure that the correct version gets to the registrar on time. Develop explicit basis for course caps.
2. Student plans and Enrollment projections (& planning of 2 year-cycle of offerings to match enrollments & student plans)
3. Enrollment-boosting arrangements.
4. Coordinate CCDE course offerings and partnerships
5. General student advising (incl. new student orientation, course plans from new students, assign students to advisors, update student handbooks & online materials)
6. Use of Peoplesoft (for student info, registration & enrollment management)
7. Financial matters (incl. budget for use of ESS funds)
8. Office admin & record keeping to prepare for program reviews (Database maintenance & liaison with GCOE database, preparing requested figures for annual reports, AA training, filing)
9. Capstone advising, assessment & certification of completion; archiving for reviews
10. Website design & maintenance
11. Liaison with Graduate Studies (incl. occasional GPD meetings)
12. Communication with students & wider community (e.g., email news)
13. GAship recruitment & Awards (incl. International Tuition waiver)
14. Organizing program meetings. Structure, membership & duties of sub-committees. Coordination among sub-committees.

Recruitment Outreach and Program Development

15. Promote program courses to boost enrollment (incl. communicate with C&I advising staff)
16. Recruitment Outreach and Advising (incl. alum network & website enhancements)
17. Admissions subcommittee & liaison with Grad. Admissions
18. Open Houses, Special events & Community-building initiatives
19. Program Development subject to AQUAD or other strategic plans (incl. faculty involvement in revising plans)
20. Program reviews (AQUAD, NCATE)
21. Transmission of information from one coordinator to next re: admin.history & procedures