University Policies

Approval Date: 5/8/1973
Revision Date: 3/2/06
Approved By: President

Faculty Policies-Department Responsibilities

This description of the position of the department within the operation of Western Illinois University has been prepared by the Faculty Senate. It is to be used as a guide by the faculty and the administration in the efficient utilization of expertise which resides in the academic departments of the University. The description deals with the organization, operation, and resources available to the department to attain its academic goals. Accordingly, the department shall establish its procedures of internal governance recognizing college/academic unit and University governing principles.

The department is the primary educational unit of organization and administration within a college/academic unit at Western Illinois University. It is established for the purpose of carrying on programs of instruction, research, and service in particular fields of knowledge. The department has the fullest measure of autonomy consistent with the maintenance of general college/academic unit and University educational policies and correct academic relations with other units of the University. Prior to the formulation of any policy which will affect departmental operations, a departmental viewpoint shall be solicited.

The creation of a new department may be recommended to the Board of Trustees if the college/academic unit governance system makes such a recommendation and, in turn, this action is also recommended by the Faculty Senate and approved by the Provost and President. The restructuring of an existing department is to be handled in a similar fashion provided the department's viewpoint is solicited in the restructuring process.

Department Personnel

The personnel of the department shall consist of the faculty, chairperson, and other academic staff. The faculty of the Department shall be persons holding full-time departmental appointments as instructors, assistant professors, associate professors, or professors. Department chairs are appointed in accordance with the policy on Department Chair Responsibilities in the University Policy Manual. Other staff are appointed in accordance with University policy.

Voting Rights

All full-time tenured and tenure track faculty shall be accorded voting rights within the department and its committees. Other department personnel may be granted voting privileges, either in all department matters or on specific items of business, as approved by a majority of the full-time tenured and tenure track faculty.


The chairperson of the department, who serves as the chief representative of the department, shall be selected and reviewed in accordance with University policies. The faculty should actively participate with the chairperson in the department decision-making process. The chairperson should also be allowed the flexibility needed to provide academic leadership as well as efficient administration of the department.

Academic departments have the basic responsibility for, and should make the initial recommendations in, the following personnel matters:

  • The recruitment of new and replacement personnel including the faculty, the chairperson, and non-academic staff.
  • The evaluation of personnel for the purpose of making recommendations for retention, non-retention, promotion, and tenure as prescribed in the current collective bargaining agreement.
  • Recommendation upon applications for sabbatical leaves and personal leaves without pay by faculty/staff members. Where appropriate, this must be consistent with applicable portions of the collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Trustees and the UPI.


A department, operating within University policies and constraints, once established, has the right to autonomy in the following basic areas:


The department initiates recommendations for the requirements for programs leading to a major and minor in its discipline and may initiate additional requirements for majors and minors in cognate areas. The department recommends the course content, credit hour value, and prerequisites of all courses in its discipline. The course outline should be available to the faculty-at-large and to students, and the course description printed in the catalog shall coincide with the course content.

The expansion of the scope of interest in many of the academic areas currently offered in the University occasionally creates an overlap and, at times, a duplication of courses offered by two or more departments. Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged; however, duplication should be avoided. Questions of intra-college duplication or questions concerning a particular course or program should be resolved by the college dean/academic unit director after consultation with the appropriate faculty committee(s).


The department has the responsibility for the academic advising of all majors and minors.

The department may assist in professional and personal guidance as requested by the student.

The department has the primary responsibility for other matters directly related to curriculum in (1) research, (2) scheduling of classes within assigned physical facilities, and (3) methods of instruction.


The department shall be involved in decisions regarding the allocation of facilities, personnel, funds, and other resources to it. The internal structuring of these resources for the established academic goals and procedures involving the faculty of the department shall be the responsibility of the department.


There should be fair and equitable treatment throughout the University in the initial allocation of funds to colleges/academic units and academic departments, reflecting the special budgetary needs which serve to distinguish one department from another. However, there should be a realistic attempt made to allow the academic department maximum flexibility and judgment in all budgetary matters. Of chief concern is the involvement of the department, through the college/academic unit, at three levels in the budgetary process.

  1. Initiation of Budgetary Requests: Each department shall have the opportunity to clearly state in its own terms its budgetary needs and to document these needs in ways which department members consider to be appropriate prior to the establishment of the college/academic unit and all University budgets. The department shall have the right and responsibility for calling to the attention of all those involved in the budgetary process beyond the department level what the department considers to be requirements in each line item. These needs shall be communicated through the established planning process within the Division of Academic Affairs.
  2. Allocation of Funds: At the stage where the initial request for funds from individual departments must be balanced against the actual funds available to the University, the department, through the college/academic unit, should be given the opportunity to re-examine original requests in light of dollar amounts available to the University. Where possible, the department should be allowed to readjust its budget among line items. The policy should permit maximum flexibility within the bounds of University budgetary procedures.
  3. Expenditure of Funds: At the point where departments have been allocated dollar amounts by line item, maximum autonomy should be granted in the determination of expenditures. Only under unusual circumstances should any policy limit the right of the department to spend allocated funds as designated by department faculty. Two considerations are of utmost importance:
    1. When any policy limits departmental prerogative in the expenditure of funds, such policy shall be carefully explained to the department(s) involved. Due to the sensitive nature and extended impact of budgetary decisions related to personnel, special precautions shall be taken to preserve the right of the department members to initiate recommendations in these areas.
    2. When changes in the allocation or assignment of positions (both academic and non-academic) are being considered, the department shall be consulted.


A department is a community of colleagues centered around one or more disciplines in a college/academic unit. Its major purposes are to structure and operate a curriculum, perform appropriate services, and conduct research within a college/academic unit and the University. Autonomy over these purposes is best realized within a department when authority and responsibility are shared by the faculty through the chairperson.

Cooperation between the various units of the University and the department is to be encouraged. However, should a dispute arise between the department and another unit of the University concerning the proper limits of this autonomy, the department may appeal for a ruling to appropriate faculty and administrative bodies. Any change in a departmental recommendation at a different level should include a statement in writing to the department of the change and the specific reasons for the change.