A. Basic Principles

Academic excellence is essential to the educational mission of The University of Alabama. Such excellence is achieved in an environment of mutual confidence, collegial participation, effective leadership, and strong academic programs. To foster that environment, it is University policy that faculty are expected to participate in the selection of deans and departmental chairpersons and that the advice of the faculty shall be actively and systematically sought concerning possible improvements in academic programs and in administrative leadership of academic divisions and departments. Throughout this Appendix, faculty shall be understood to consist of all persons who have a full-time tenure or tenure-track or renewable-contract appointment in the appropriate academic unit of the University.

The process by which the views of the faculty shall be sought is based on seven understandings:

  1. Final authority over the selection and retention of deans and other academic administrators rests with the President, but primary authority for the selection and retention of associate deans, assistant deans, and departmental chairpersons rests with the academic dean.
  2. Normally, no person shall be appointed as a dean or a departmental chair who has not received a positive tenure recommendation from the relevant academic departmental tenure committee or (where the smallest relevant academic unit is the division) from the divisional tenure committee of The University of Alabama.
  3. The evaluation and advice of the faculty shall be systematically obtained and considered prior to the appointment of deans and chairpersons.
  4. Program direction, program quality, and the performance of deans and departmental chairpersons shall be evaluated periodically, and an important consideration in this process shall be the feedback from the faculty.
  5. It is the responsibility of the faculty to participate in reviews of programs and leadership and to provide reasons for their recommendations, which can be considered by the administration when making decisions. Faculty members who fail to participate fully in the leadership evaluation process, either by making no recommendation or by failing to give reasons for a recommendation, impair the administration’s ability to make an appropriate decision.
  6. Faculty participation in the evaluation of administrative performance shall be accomplished by providing the opportunity for yearly feedback.
  7. Program direction and program quality shall be considered by higher administrators when considering faculty feedback of the leadership of academic administrators. Normally, the nature and timing of academic program reviews shall be left to the discretion of the higher administrators, but these reviews must be reasonably extensive and current and must involve opportunities for faculty members to express their views about the program.

In the following policies and procedures governing the selection and evaluation of deans of instructional units and departmental chairpersons, there exists an intended degree of latitude and procedural flexibility to accommodate differences and preferences among academic divisions and departments. Each academic division and each department may adopt more specific formal procedures, provided that these procedures are consistent with the University policies and guidelines stated herein and provided that they are approved by the Provost and/or the academic dean, as may be appropriate.

Certain positions that carry the title of dean do not have faculty constituencies limited to a single division, such as dean of the Graduate School or dean of Continuing Studies. For these positions, it is necessary that the formal review process include campus-wide faculty participation and that the procedures stated herein be modified to accommodate such participation. Such modifications will be developed on a case-by-case basis by the Provost or other appropriate administrative officer, in consultation with appropriate faculty and administrative bodies, including the Council of Deans and the Steering Committee of the Faculty Senate. These modified procedures shall be implemented upon approval by the President.

B. Policies and Guidelines for Selecting Deans

The President of The University of Alabama, acting through authority granted by The Board of Trustees, appoints deans. The process of searching for and appointing a dean will conform to the Affirmative Action Plan of the University and all prevailing federal and state regulatory requirements. In addition, appointments will be made only after considering: 1) the evaluations and advice of the faculty of the academic division; and 2) the advice of a search committee, as described below:

  • When a vacancy occurs, the President or a designated representative shall meet with the divisional faculty before deciding on the nature of the search and the size and composition of a representative search committee. Every division must have a written procedure for electing faculty members to the search committee. The written procedure should designate a tenured faculty member to organize the election of faculty members to the search committee. Faculty members elected from the academic division will constitute a majority of the search committee; secret ballot election by the divisional faculty, either acting as a whole or by departments according to procedures approved by the divisional faculty, shall govern the elected faculty membership on the search committee. Other members of the search committee will be appointed by the President. Usually, the President will appoint a staff member from the Office for Academic Affairs to serve as a non-voting member on the search committee and to provide liaison and logistical support. Giving due regard to advice and concerns expressed by the faculty, the President will designate one of the elected faculty members to chair the search committee.
  • The search committee, working in cooperation with the President and the Office for Academic Affairs and with appropriate participation from constituent groups, shall establish selection criteria, announce and advertise the position in a manner appropriate to the nature of the search, and coordinate the review and evaluation of candidates for the position. Throughout the search process, the committee shall solicit, encourage, and provide for faculty participation and the participation of other constituent groups. Faculty members should have ample opportunity to review the credentials of qualified candidates, except that the search committee may protect the identity of candidates who request confidentiality during the initial screening process. On the basis of faculty evaluations and its own judgment, the search committee will reduce the list of candidates to those deemed to be best qualified for the position. The committee and the President will select those to be interviewed from this reduced list. Interviews scheduled should allow for discussions with the President, the Provost, deans, chairpersons, search committee members, faculty, and, where appropriate to the nature of the search, with students, alumni, and others. Following these interviews, and other information-gathering procedures appropriate to the nature of the search, every reasonable effort should be made to obtain the views of the divisional faculty and appropriately interested constituent groups. The advice of the divisional faculty may be determined by individual written evaluations, by an expression of faculty sentiment at a called faculty meeting, or by such other means as the search committee may consider appropriate. General support of the divisional faculty normally will be necessary for further consideration of a candidate.
  • The search committee shall submit to the President, through the Provost, a summary of evaluations and advice received from the divisional faculty on each person interviewed, as well as its own advice. In the event the President does not secure the appointment of a dean from the list of those candidates who have general faculty support, the search process normally shall be continued until a dean acceptable to the President and the faculty is successfully recruited. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the President shall select a dean from those candidates who have general faculty support. If it should become necessary to reopen the search, the President and the search committee may confer to establish further direction; if it appears desirable, a new search committee may be formed.
  • The President will make interim or acting appointments when necessary; such appointments will be made only after considering any advice and concerns stated by the faculty. The President, as soon as is practicable, will organize a formal search to replace the interim or acting dean. Interim or acting appointees who have served for more than one year shall be subject to normal annual review of deans. After one year, the interim or acting appointee can be subject to review based on a written petition to the Provost by at least 25 percent of the total divisional faculty or upon a vote of one-third or more of the total divisional faculty.

C. Policies and Guidelines for Leadership Evaluation of Deans 

It is the policy of The University of Alabama that faculty members in each academic division shall have a yearly opportunity to provide feedback on the leadership of their division, normally a dean. This faculty feedback shall be an important component of the yearly evaluation of the divisional leadership by the President and Provost. A leadership evaluation shall be scheduled in each academic division at least once every five years, except that the Provost may vary the schedule by as much as one year if a change in the leadership of a division occurs or is anticipated, or if other circumstances arise in which it becomes desirable to do so.

D. Divisional Leadership Evaluations

1. Evaluation by Faculty

The following policies and guidelines for obtaining the divisional faculty’s advice on the division’s leadership are to be employed:

  • Every year, an electronic survey will be distributed to faculty of the division providing them the opportunity to give feedback on their divisional leadership. The survey instrument will consist of a series of questions in which participating faculty will assign a score and will be given an opportunity for discursive comments.  The discursive comments allow faculty to state any reasons they have for believing that the divisional leadership has or has not helped the college or division make progress in meeting its mission and goals. The comments will be anonymous and will not be edited. The President and/or Provost and divisional leadership will receive the results of the electronic survey.
  • In the fifth year, the electronic survey will contain the statement: “I recommend to the Provost to continue the current administrative leadership of the College.” “Yes” or “no” will be solicited as the response.
  • The electronic survey will be developed and reviewed at least once every five years by the ad-hoc committee appointed by the Provost consisting of members of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate and members of the Council of Deans. The President and/or Provost will approve the final form of the electronic survey.

2. Decision by the President

When the retention review occurs upon receiving results of the electronic survey, and after any other evaluations, discussions, and clarifications that the President and/or the Provost consider necessary, the President and/or Provost will communicate the decision to those concerned, normally no later than one month following submission of the electronic survey. The President or the Provost will meet with the divisional faculty to discuss the results, normally no later than two weeks after communication of the results to those concerned. Then, if the faculty so chooses, it may transmit its concerns regarding the President’s decision through the President’s Office to the Chancellor, and through the Chancellor to The Board of Trustees.

3. Early Divisional Leadership Evaluations

Upon a written petition to the Provost requesting an early evaluation, signed by at least 25 percent of the total faculty of the division, or upon a vote of one-third or more of the total divisional faculty requesting an early evaluation, an early evaluation of divisional leadership shall be initiated, except that:

(a) Only one early evaluation may be called for during the interval between regularly scheduled divisional leadership evaluations; and

(b) If an early evaluation results in the continued appointment of the dean, the Provost may schedule the next leadership evaluation to occur as late as five years after that early evaluation. No additional early evaluation can be called for before the date when a leadership evaluation would have occurred had there been no call for an early evaluation.

Early evaluations shall be conducted in the same way as regularly scheduled evaluations.

E. Policies and Guidelines for Selecting Departmental Chairpersons

Departmental chairpersons are appointed by the dean of the academic division, subject to review and final approval by the Office for Academic Affairs and the President. The term “departmental chairperson” is defined and used throughout to mean the administrator of an academic unit within a division who reports directly to the dean of the division. The term includes department heads, area heads or chairpersons, program heads or chairpersons, directors of schools within a college, and other such administrators of academic units.  A similar interpretation should be placed on the use of the term “department.”

The process of searching for and appointing departmental chairpersons will conform to the Affirmative Action Plan of the University and all prevailing federal and state regulatory requirements. In addition, appointments will be made only after considering: 1) the evaluations and advice of the faculty of the academic unit; and 2) the advice of a search committee, as described below:

  • When a vacancy occurs, the dean of the academic division shall meet with the departmental faculty before deciding on the nature of the search and the size and composition of a representative search committee. Committees of the whole may be appropriate in small academic units. Faculty members elected from the department will constitute a majority of the search committee; secret ballot election by the departmental faculty shall govern the elected faculty membership on the search committee. The faculty of small departments may choose to elect additional faculty members from the division. Other members of the search committee will be appointed by the dean. Usually, the dean or a person from the dean’s office will serve as a non-voting member on the search committee to provide liaison and logistical support. Giving due regard to the advice and concerns expressed by the faculty, the dean will designate one of the elected faculty members to chair the search committee.
  • The search committee, working in cooperation with the dean and with appropriate participation from constituent groups, shall establish selection criteria, announce and advertise the position in a manner appropriate to the nature of the search, and coordinate the review and evaluation of candidates for the position. Throughout the search process, the committee shall solicit, encourage, and provide for faculty participation, and the participation of other constituent groups. Faculty members should have ample opportunity to review the credentials of qualified candidates, except that the search committee may protect the identity of candidates who request confidentiality during the initial screening process. On the basis of faculty evaluations and its own judgment, the search committee will reduce the list of candidates to those deemed to be best qualified for the position. The committee and the dean will select those to be interviewed from this reduced list. Interview schedules of candidates should allow for discussions with the Provost, the search committee members, individual faculty, and, where appropriate to the nature of the search, students, and others. Following these interviews and other information-gathering procedures appropriate to the nature of the search, every reasonable effort should be made to obtain the views of the departmental faculty and appropriately interested constituent groups. The advice of the faculty may be determined by individual written evaluations, or by expression of faculty sentiment at a called faculty meeting, or by such other means as the search committee may consider appropriate. General support of the departmental faculty normally will be necessary for further consideration of a candidate.
  • The search committee shall submit to the dean its own advice as well as a summary of the evaluations and advice received from the departmental faculty on each final candidate or person interviewed. In the event the dean does not secure the appointment of a chairperson from the list of candidates who have general faculty support, the search process normally shall be continued until a chairperson acceptable to the dean and the faculty is successfully recruited. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the dean shall select a chairperson from those candidates who have general faculty support. If it should become necessary to reopen the search, the dean and the search committee should confer to establish further direction. If it appears desirable, a new search committee may be formed.
  • The dean will make interim or acting appointments when necessary; such appointments will be made only after considering any advice and concerns stated by the faculty. The dean, as soon as practicable, will organize a formal search to replace the interim or acting chairperson. Upon a written petition to the dean by at least 25 percent of the total departmental faculty or upon a vote of one-third or more of the total departmental faculty, acting or interim appointees who have served for more than one year shall be subject to review and the faculty’s advice as to continuation.

F. Policies and Guidelines for Leadership Evaluation of Chairpersons 

It is the policy of The University of Alabama that faculty members in each academic department shall have a yearly opportunity to provide feedback on the leadership of their department. This faculty feedback shall be an important component of the yearly evaluation of the departmental leadership by the dean. The dean, in consultation with the Office for Academic Affairs, will establish a schedule for the leadership evaluations of each department within the division. A leadership evaluation shall be scheduled in each academic department at least once every five years, except that the dean, in consultation with the Office for Academic Affairs, may vary the schedule by as much as one year if a change in the leadership of a department occurs or is anticipated or if other circumstances arise that make doing so desirable.

G. Departmental Leadership Evaluations

1. Evaluation by Faculty

The following policies and guidelines for obtaining the departmental faculty’s advice on the department’s leadership are to be employed:

  • Every year, an electronic survey will be distributed to faculty of the department providing them the opportunity to give feedback on their chairperson. The survey instrument will consist of a series of questions in which participating faculty will assign a score and will be given an opportunity for discursive comments. The discursive comments allow faculty to state any reasons they have for believing that the departmental leadership has or has not helped the department make progress in meeting its mission and goals. The comments will be anonymous and will not be edited. The dean and the chairperson will receive the results of the electronic survey.
  • In the fifth year, the electronic survey will contain the statement: “I recommend to the dean to continue the current administrative leadership of the Department.” “Yes” or “No” will be solicited as the response.
  • The electronic survey will be developed and reviewed at least once every five years by an ad-hoc committee appointed by the Provost consisting of members of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate and members of the Council of Deans. The Provost will approve the final form of the electronic survey.

2. Decision by the Dean

When the retention review occurs upon receiving results of the electronic survey, and after any other evaluations, discussions, and clarifications that the dean considers necessary, the dean will communicate his or her decision to the chairperson normally no later than one month following submission of the electronic survey. The dean will meet, normally no later than two weeks after communication of the results to those concerned, to discuss the dean’s decision. Then, if the faculty so chooses, it may inform the Provost and the President of its concerns regarding the dean’s decision.

3. Early Leadership Evaluations

Upon a written petition to the dean requesting an early evaluation, signed by at least 25 percent of the total faculty of the department or upon a vote of one-third or more of the total departmental faculty requesting an early evaluation, an early evaluation of departmental leadership shall be initiated except that:

(a) Only one early evaluation may be called for during the interval between regularly scheduled evaluations; and

(b) If an early evaluation results in the continued appointment of the department chairperson, the dean may schedule the next leadership evaluation to occur as late as five years after that early evaluation. No additional early evaluation can be called for before the date when a leadership evaluation would have occurred had there not been a call for an early evaluation.

Early evaluations shall be conducted in the same way as regularly scheduled evaluations.

H. Implementation

Each academic division and department of the University may propose to the central administration the use of more specific guidelines and procedural details. As with any University policy, the provisions for faculty participation stated herein are subject to modification and change by the President whenever circumstances and experience warrant. However, any such changes will be discussed fully with the Faculty Senate (acting on behalf of the faculty), deans, and chairpersons prior to their approval by the President.

Express provision for monitoring the effectiveness of this policy, and for recommending any changes in the policies and guidelines herein as might become desirable, shall be provided for by the establishment of an advisory committee of deans, departmental chairpersons, and faculty. The members of this committee shall be appointed by the President, except that the faculty appointees shall be from a list of persons furnished to the President by the President of the Faculty Senate. A faculty member will chair the advisory committee. This committee shall report to the President through the Provost and shall be charged with: 1) monitoring the effectiveness of the existing policies on faculty participation; 2) offering proposals for changes in the mechanism for faculty participation for consideration by the University community; 3) screening proposals for changes from other sources; and 4) coordinating discussions and study by the faculty, deans, chairpersons, and the central administration of any proposed changes prior to their approval by the President.

Normally, any person appointed as Provost will be expected to possess credentials commensurate with an appointment at a senior rank and in an appropriate academic discipline.