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Department Heads

At UL Lafayette, the academic department head combines in a unique way the roles of administrator and faculty member, the exact nature of which varies from department to department. The department head leads and serves multiple constituencies, including students, faculty, higher-level administrators, and alumni and other groups external to the University. The roles and responsibilities of Department Heads and Directors continue to change and are influenced by dynamic conditions shaping higher education. They are the crusader for department faculty, staff, students, and programs, and are responsible for carrying forward the mission and strategic plan of the University and for implementing departmental and campus policies. Leading a department requires department heads to be effective advocates, negotiators, consensus builders, budget managers, as well as good colleagues, advisors, mentors, and communicators.

The Goals, Duties, Roles, and Responsibilities of Academic Department Heads focus predominantly on the department head’s administrative function in the institution. The relative importance of the components of the description varies depending on the mission of the department.

Goals, Duties, Roles, and Responsibilities of Academic Department Heads


The academic department head:
• Develops a vision and builds consensus support for the department’s mission and future goals, consistent with the mission and goals of the College and University;
• Maintains the academic quality and vitality of the department’s programs, including oversight of recruiting, advising, and retention and graduation rates, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels;
• Ensures ongoing assessment of the department’s success in fulfilling its mission and reaching its goals and maintains program accreditation;
• Recruits and retains faculty consonant with the department’s mission and goals;
• Involves faculty and other relevant constituents in broad decision making and planning through ongoing consultation;
• Nurtures leadership in the department to enhance programs and goals;
• Makes thoughtful, timely decisions;
• Works to attract and maintain a diverse faculty, student body and staff; and
• Embodies the highest ethical standards in the role of academic leader.

Departmental Management

The academic department head efficiently and effectively:
• Makes work and project assignments that enhance the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of all individuals in the department;
• Coordinates the scheduling of departmental course offerings;
• Manages the department budget efficiently;
• Conducts effective annual performance evaluations of faculty and staff and communicates the results of those evaluations;
• Collaborates with the faculty, the Dean, and other administrative and external agencies in matters related to innovative resource generation and economic, cultural, and educational development initiatives;
• Implements University, College, and department policies;
• Manages staff, departmental equipment and technology, and physical facilities; and
• Ensures smooth daily operation of the department.


The academic department head:
• Serves as an advocate, both inside and outside the University, for the department’s and faculty’s perspectives, concerns, and needs, including those of the students it serves;
• Communicates information regarding policies, procedures, decisions, and relevant activities and events to all departmental constituencies;
• Responds tolerantly, patiently, and open-mindedly to faculty, staff, and students;
• Promotes morale and departmental cohesiveness by, for example, promoting and recognizing achievements of members of the department;
• Works collegially with other department heads, the Dean of the College, and other campus personnel; and
• Demonstrates empathy, concern, and ethical behavior in relations with students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

Professional Development

The academic department head:
• Undertakes teaching, research, scholarly and/or creative activities, as appropriate to the department’s mission and allowed by the duties entailed in departmental leadership;
• Promotes quality teaching and attentive and accurate advising by department faculty;
• Reviews and recommends changes in the annual projection of workload activities by faculty;
• Actively mentors faculty members through the tenure and promotion process; and
• Supports and guides faculty in their ongoing efforts to mentor students more effectively, advance their scholarly and/or creative interests more productively, and achieve their professional goals.

Resources & Conferences

UL Lafayette Resources

Department Head & Directors Council

External Resources

The following are links to principals and best practices for department heads and directors

Professional Development Resources


Discipline Focused Conferences