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Important dates and tasks
It is wise to populate your Outlook Calendar in advance with the regular recurring tasks that you can predict, so that these activities don’t sneak up on you! Some require significant advanced planning. Work your way back from the final deadlines in order to build time into your calendar for planning.
Although each department may be slightly different, below are a list of common tasks in alphabetical order that you need to pay attention to on a regular basis. These tasks and activities happen in regular cycles, whether annual, term, ongoing, multi-year, or other. Some of these dates are fixed and college wide, others will depend on your individual department. Some tasks typically occur at the beginning, middle or end of each academic term. Find out what the timelines and dates are in your department for these tasks.
- Important dates: Keep track of important dates such as:
- Course add/drop/withdrawal deadlines (including both with tuition refund, and without academic penalty)
- First and last day of each term
- Exam periods
- Statutory holidays
Recurring important tasks
- Appraisals: Chairs need to be aware of what their collective agreement says about faculty evaluations/appraisals. (see: CCFA collective agreement 28.01 to 28.05) There will likely be some required every semester, and chairs are typically involved. There are different appraisal expectations and timelines for continuing, probationary and term faculty that may include student feedback, department feedback (peer, chair) and a self-evaluation. For more info check out: feedback section, UBC’s Peer Review guidelines, HR SharePoint site on employee appraisal.
- Articulation meetings: Most disciplines or programs that are delivered in the BC transfer system have provincial articulation committees that meet annually. They play a critical role in facilitating smooth student mobility between institutions in the BC Transfer System. It is often the chair and/or other faculty delegate(s) that attend these meetings.
- Awards ceremonies: Each school holds student awards ceremonies annually at various times of the year. Contact your school admin office and/or the Camosun College Foundation for details.
- Budget: Chairs are typically involved with developing and monitoring the annual department budget in conjunction with the school administrators. The fiscal year runs from April 1st to March 31st, and it is important for you to be aware of the reporting timelines. Please see the Finance Department SharePoint site for more information including relevant training, policies, and forms.
- CamNews: comes out every Tuesday. Make sure to read it, as it is the best way to keep up with what is going on around the college. If you missed something, you can find all previous news items on the intranet homepage.
- Celebrations (holiday parties, retirements, etc.): The chair is often a key social convener for the department. In the interest of establishing and maintaining good collegial rapport, it is worth keeping track of and celebrating various occasions throughout the year, or ensuring that others within the department take on this role.
- Communications and marketing: If you want to develop a brochure, update your website or respond to a media invitation, all of this needs to go through Camosun’s Communications and Marketing department. Check your department website and/or SharePoint site periodically for any editing adjustments or changes that should be made, including reviewing and revising student handbooks. Your school may have specific guidelines for marketing material and website content.
- Conversations Day: This college-wide professional development day occurs annually in the week of spring break. It is a workday, and generally, all employees are encouraged to attend. As chair, you may be helping to promote attendance, and possibly helping to plan school-specific activities.
- CUPE department work: You may have CUPE staff within your department that you have some supervisory responsibility for (overseeing and coordinating with), while they also typically have their own CUPE supervisor. It is important to meet with them regularly to clarify expectations.
- Curriculum development: Changes to curriculum can be time consuming and take months or years to complete, from initial development to final approval. As chair, you will likely be involved in both minor and major revisions and additions to the current curriculum. Changes need to be reviewed at the school level by the School Curriculum Committee (SCC), then reviewed at the Integrated Curriculum Committee (ICC), and finally be approved at the Education Council (EdCo) level. ICC and EdCo meet monthly throughout the year (except July and August). Find out from your school what the timelines are and when SCC meetings take place. Plan well in advance for any curriculum changes to ensure adequate time and resources for development and approval. Make sure to consult with Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning early in the process for support with online course development, and review processes. Check out Leading Practices in Curriculum.
- Department meetings: It is up to the chair to decide how often to hold department meetings, how they are structured, and what is on the agenda. You may meet bi-weekly, monthly or just once each term depending on your needs (more ideas in Effective Relationships section).
- Graduation ceremonies: Convocation for grads occurs every year in June and this is a great time to participate in celebrating the achievements of students in your department. The deadline for students to apply for grad is typically early spring.
- Hiring: Chairs are usually involved in the process of hiring for their department, though it is the dean who makes all final hiring decisions. Anticipate upcoming vacancies and workload needs, and get the process started as early as possible, as it takes time. The process could include: revising job descriptions, posting, coordinating the selection committee, shortlisting, organizing and conducting the interviews, doing reference checks, etc. Please ask your HR consultant for assistance, and to get the most accurate information about procedures and expectations. The HR SharePoint site has excellent resources. Also, don’t forget to ensure you are keeping within union guidelines.
- HR learning and development workshops: Organization and People Development in Human Resources offers a variety of workshops, including ones that are specifically for workplace leaders such as chairs, as well as events for new employees. You can sign up to receive a monthly newsletter letting you know about workshop offerings.
- Information sessions: All schools hold regular information sessions throughout the school year to promote their programs to prospective students. These sessions may be facilitated by the chair and/or other faculty. Check your school website for more specifics.
- Onboarding new instructors: It is your job to make sure all new instructors in your department are provided with everything they need to feel welcome and get off on the right foot. Your admin office, HR, and program leaders will help with many of the practical details, but you will likely be providing the overall introductions and orientation. Encourage new instructors to attend HR’s New Employee Welcome, and suggest they sign up to take the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) particularly if they are new to teaching. Consider creating a buddy or mentoring system between instructors in your department. Check out these HR resources: The Onboarding info page, and the New Employee Portal.
- Program Advisory Committees: PACs normally meet twice annually but it may be more frequently during times of major program changes. It is the responsibility of the department chair to oversee the logistics of these meetings. Check out the Program Advisory Committees policy and terms of reference for more info.
- Program cost estimates to Financial Aid: Every year at the end of March chairs are asked to provide the estimated cost of their program to the Financial Aid department.
- Program renewal: While an in-depth program evaluation occurs every five to seven years for the purposes of quality assurance, your department will also engage in an annual environmental scan, and ongoing curriculum development and program renewal processes as well. You’ll need to become familiar with the Quality Assurance Framework that provides more details and guidance. Check out the Guide to Program Review and contact the Curriculum Development and Renewal team in CETL for assistance.
- Research projects: If faculty within your department have assignments that involve research with human participants as part of their course work, it is your responsibility to ensure ethical considerations have been addressed, according to Camosun’s Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Human Subjects Policy. Make sure your instructors inform you of their plans for student research projects, so that you can ensure students are being taught how to engage in ethical research that minimizes risk of harm (physical or psychological). You can help promote measures such as: Informed consent (clear expectations, avoid deceptive practices, voluntary participation); anonymity/confidentiality (remove any identifying information, know limits of confidentiality such as child abuse disclosure, and keep research notes in secure place); the right to withdraw from participation; and protection for vulnerable groups. Contact the Research Ethics Board for more information, and check out the REB guide.
- Respect in the Workplace for Workplace Leaders: All chairs are required to take the Respect in the Workplace for Workplace Leaders blended delivery course which is offered twice a year. This course was developed in response to WorkSafe BC legislation regarding bullying and harassment in the workplace. It focuses on self-reflection and effective leadership practices, including strategies for addressing conflict and promoting a respectful workplace. This course is in addition to the RWP course and the Standards of Conduct course which all employees are required to take.
- Scheduled Development coordination: It is the responsibility of the dean to approve scheduled development intents, proposals and reports for all faculty. However, chairs play an important role in reviewing these submissions before the dean gives final approval. Chairs ensure that faculty are taking their SD time in a way that works with department needs. Chairs may also play a role in encouraging/suggesting ideas for potential SD projects, collaboration on projects, and sharing the learning from projects back out to the department/school. The SD year runs from May 1 to April 30 (with intents/proposals due to the chair by February 1st each year). Guidelines can be found in your collective agreement, and through the SD info page.
- Strategic planning: From time to time you may initiate a strategic planning process for your department, or be involved with school-wide/college-wide strategic planning. This is an opportunity for you to reflect as a department on short-term and long term goals, and specify actions to be taken.
- Student issues: Chairs play a big role in assisting faculty with student support and risk management. Be proactive wherever possible, and encourage faculty to consult with you early when they have a student concern. (For more info check out: Effective Relationships section; and relevant policies section.)
- Text ordering: Chairs and/or program leaders are typically responsible for organizing textbook orders or adoptions for their department, especially for courses that will be taught by term faculty who haven’t been hired yet. Individual faculty may also take on the job of ensuring required readings are available, including reserves in the library, ordering course packs, or utilizing open resources. Make sure that you are following Copyright Guidelines, and pay attention to the deadlines for textbook adoptions.
- Vacation planning: The annual vacation year for faculty runs from September 1 to August 31. According to the CCFA collective agreement (8.01), faculty members work together with their chair and dean to schedule vacation time (normally taken in one block), ensuring that both the needs of the college and the interests of the faculty member are taken into consideration. The BCGEU collective agreement has a similar stipulation (8.4).
- Welcome back and student orientations: September tends to be the biggest start up time across the college, with CamFest happening for students and other welcome back events. You may also have programs starting at other times throughout the year. Chairs often help to organize and/or attend student orientations to introduce themselves and welcome the students at the beginning of the school year or program, and help out with school or college events as well.
- Workload and scheduling: Camosun uses a software program to assist with the complex process of scheduling classes all across the college each term. Chairs play a big role in entering data into the DCU (Data Collection Utility), including all of the “constraints” for classrooms, and faculty availability. The process for mapping out the upcoming schedules begins well in advance of the start of the semester, and requires extensive attention to planning details. Training, information, and resources are available through the Office of the Registrar and on the Scheduling SharePoint site. Scheduling of classes overlaps with workload assignment for faculty. Chairs work together with faculty and deans to determine annual workloads, taking into consideration things like class size, marking load, office hours, committee involvement, technology, etc. Chairs need to be familiar with what the collective agreement has to say about workload for faculty, including the principles guiding workload assignment (normal contact hours, average work week, restrictions on the time lapse between work days, etc.).