Office for Faculty Development

Planning and Running Department Meetings

Why meet?

  • Do not hold department meetings only to socialize. Make sure that there are real issues to be discussed and decisions to be taken.

What to discuss?

Among the substantive matters to discuss are the following:

  • curriculum (courses that need to be revamped or new courses that the major requires),
  • making the case for new faculty lines (where are the gaps in the department’s expertise, where is the department likely to see retirement, and so on),
  • need for support staff and issues regarding them,
  • the department’s role in college or university initiatives,
  • planning for an AQUAD review,
  • specific crises that have been brought to your attention,
  • departmental handbook,
  • developing effective mentoring models,
  • voting on finalist candidates following their campus visits,
  • sharing good news about accomplishments or activities of department members. 
  • sharing reports? of university committees others are on
  • sharing admissions progress in various programs
  • sharing recruitment strategies for programs.

How often to meet?

  • No more than once a month, if possible. However, if there is an urgent issue that cannot wait until the next department meeting, and a discussion cannot be conducted via email, then you may have to call a department meeting. Some department constitutions may specify the number of meetings required.
  • Votes on finalist candidates for a faculty position typically require their own meetings and should not be folded into regular department meetings.

How to help ensure that meetings are productive?

  • Come with a clearly articulated agenda that you have distributed prior to the meeting to your department members.
  • Any material that is part of an agenda item requiring action (such as a new course proposal to be reviewed and voted upon) should also be distributed a few days prior to the meeting.  
  • It may be helpful to elect yearly a department faculty meeting secretary. This person can take care of the minutes, and sum up for the department what changes or requests have been discussed or made. If some faculty speak for too long and veer off point, it is your responsibility to intervene and suggest that others might wish to offer comments. Though it is important that you not humiliate any member of your department publicly by implying that what they’re saying is of minimal value, it is also important that you learn how to create opportunities for all members of your department to speak.