Why meet? Routine updates and simple issues may be handled adequately by emails, but there
are some topics that are best handled in face-to-face discussions. Committees (such
as tenure and promotion, curriculum, graduate applications, and faculty searches)
should report out at faculty meetings to make certain everyone knows what is happening
and has a chance to ask questions or give feedback. Sometimes things you think have
been resolved may be causing resentment or confusion in the department. Clearing the
air at a departmental meeting can prevent a lot of grief down the road. Departmental
meetings also provide an excellent opportunity for people to share new ideas.
How often should the department meet? Meeting frequency varies from department to
department. But if you are not meeting at least a couple times a semester, chances
are your faculty will feel out of the loop. You should schedule the maximum number
of meetings you anticipate will be needed—monthly during the academic year is fairly
typical. If a meeting date arrives and you have nothing for the agenda, people rarely
complain about an unexpected cancellation!
What should be included on the agenda? This will vary from department to department
and is heavily dependent upon current events. Here are a few suggestions:
- Committee reports
- Bragging rights—acknowledge major accomplishment of faculty and students
- Updates on course enrollments and majors/minors
- Course scheduling for next semester
- Major dates and deadlines (also send those in emails)
- Course redesign or curriculum reform initiatives
- Selecting the areas of specialization for upcoming faculty searches (e.g. British
lit, ecology, statistics)
- Program assessments
- Committee assignments for next year
- Suggestions from faculty
Tips for conducting an effective departmental meeting
- Collect agenda requests from the department.
- Publish the agenda by email prior to the meeting.
- Start on time.
- End on time or earlier—be a clock watcher!
- Make sure everyone participates. You may need to call on your less assertive faculty.
- Assign a staff member to take minutes
- Assign responsibility and deadlines for action items.
- Circulate the meeting minutes within one week after the meeting so people don't forget
action items and deadlines.