The City University of New York / The Chancellor

November 6, 2000 TO: College Presidents FROM: Matthew Goldstein RE: Review of Department Chairpersons

At the October 25, 2000 meeting of the Executive Committee of the Council of Presidents, there was a discussion of my memorandum to you dated October 6, 2000 regarding the review of department chairpersons. In light of that discussion, I believe it may be productive for me to clarify the purpose of the memorandum and to address certain concerns expressed by some members of the faculty.

The purpose of the October 6 memorandum was to ensure that you or your designees are meeting with department chairpersons on an annual basis to review the work of each department and of each department chairperson in carrying out his or her duties as set forth in the by-laws. It is my understanding that such a review is conducted on many, if not most, campuses. I believe that as a matter of good practice it should be done on all campuses. Last year the Council of Presidents concluded that it would be helpful if there was a uniform evaluation form for that purpose. However, it is not my intention to require a “one size fits all” approach. It is therefore not essential that you use the form that accompanied my memorandum or that department chairpersons sign whatever evaluation instrument you decide to use. The form can be used as a guide to help establish the parameters of the review. It is important, however, that you or your designee conduct, with an appropriate degree of formality, an annual review of each department chairperson based on the duties assigned to that position under the by-laws.

Some faculty members have suggested that such a review is inconsistent with section 9.1(b) of the by-laws which provides that department chairpersons shall be elected by the faculty; in their view this means that department chairpersons are accountable only to the faculty. However, section 9.1(c) of the by-laws provides that the president may remove a chairperson “as the interests of the college may require” and that in the event of a removal, and after conferring with the department, the president shall recommend to the board the designation of a new chairperson. Thus, the by-laws clearly make the department chairpersons also accountable to the college presidents. In the past college presidents have rarely found it necessary to remove a department chairperson. I do not anticipate that this power would be exercised often in the future. Nevertheless, I do not see how a president can responsibly determine whether the interests of the college require removal without an appropriate review of all department chairpersons with respect to the fulfillment of their duties under the by-laws.

I trust these clarifications are helpful as we work to increase accountability at all levels of the university. If you have any questions, please let me know.