Forum Addresses Departmental Chair Model


A discussion on the merits of a departmental chair model will be held from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, at the University Center. The forum is being coordinated by the AAUP's committee O, which stands for outreach and organizing.


“NMU currently operates under an appointed department head model,” said Robert Goodrich (History). "This means that decisions regarding employing and dismissing department heads lies in the hands of deans and not faculty. The alternative model that will be discussed is the chair model. This is when departmental faculty members make all final decisions regarding firing and hiring of chairs and thus have direct control over departmental governance."


The issue of who should appoint department heads has become more prevalent after the merging of several departments two years ago. As many as four departments folded into one, which Goodrich said caused agitation among some faculty members.


“Faculty had no say in this restructuring,” Goodrich said. “It is now the case that the heads of several departments are no longer trained in that department’s field. In short, the problem is the persistence of an authoritarian model of departmental governance that infantilizes faculty and prioritizes administrative issues over faculty issues at the departmental level.”


Goodrich said the goal of the forum is to stimulate awareness and debate, not necessarily to reach a conclusion or recommendation.


Faculty members participating in the discussion include Helen Kahn (Communication Disorders), Brent Graves (Biology), David Carlson (Political Science) and Mohey Mowafy (HPER). They will provide analyses on administratively appointed department heads versus faculty-elected chairs.



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