Faculty Leadership

Wesleyan is a small university, and many of its key administrative posts are filled by faculty.  This means that in a very real sense, the university is run by its faculty, who are called on to make key decisions about the future of the university and how it is managed.  Most of these administrative responsibilities are expected of all faculty—the university can’t operate if we don’t all pitch in to do our part. 

In a faculty-governed university, leadership opportunities abound.  Some of these will come to you as result of “taking your turn” while others will emerge through a process of election or nomination.  This page is intended to provide a sense of the faculty leadership opportunities that are available on campus—how one is asked to serve, the responsibilities, time commitment.

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs is one of the top academic administrators for the university.  The Provost is hired by the President and the Board of Trustees to ensure the continual positive development of the university.  All three divisional deans, the two associate provosts, the Olin Library, the Center for the Arts, Athletics, the Career Center, Institutional Research, Fries Center for Global Studies and other main academic units report to the Provost.  The Provost is relieved of all teaching responsibilities.

Divisional Deans are faculty who are appointed, usually for three-year terms.  They are relived of obligatory teaching duties. They serve as the main point-people for Chairs and they serve the needs of their whole division.  They authorize searches, interview candidates for ongoing faculty positions and negotiate contracts, and make merit pay recommendations.  They are not involved in the tenure process.

Center Directors are faculty who are appointed, usually for three-year terms.  Some directorships come with course release, some do not.  They serve as the administrative head of their Center, managing staff, coordinating programming, etc.

Chairs are elected by the core faculty in their units (department, program, or college) for a term of two or three years.  Course release varies depending on the size of the unit and faculty appointment. Two is the maximum number for the largest and most complex units, small programs with minimum administrative obligations receive none.  One course release is most common.  Sometimes units have long-serving chairs, but most units regularly rotate who serves as chair.  Chairs are responsible for setting the curriculum, leading faculty meetings, organizing events, allocating and maintaining departmental budgets, recommending merit awards, coordinating searches, leading tenure and review processes, etc.

Faculty Committees are the main governing bodies of the faculty.  Meetings generally occur during common time.  Terms vary.  Faculty serving as the Chair of the Faculty, Academic Secretary, Chair of the Education Policy Committee, and all members of the Advisory Committee receive a single course release during their term of service (unless precluded by the Faculty Handbook regulation of teaching a minimum of 1 course per semester).  The Vice-Chair of Advisory receives a course release each term. Other faculty leadership positions do not offer course release. Here is a diagram of Wesleyan’s faculty governance structure.

Faculty are elected to ensure divisional and rank representation, and elections happen in the spring.  Here is a list of the current committee rosters.  Below is a brief description of each committee/position responsibility with respect to standing committees.  It is also common for the faculty to form ad hoc committees to investigate specific matters of policy.  Ad hoc committee members generally serve on a volunteer rather than an elected basis.  For a full description of the standing committee responsibilities see the Faculty Handbook (available in WesPortal).

Chair of the Faculty serves as the chief representative of the faculty in meetings with the administration.  The Chair is elected as Vice-Chair, serving one year as Vice-Chair and the following year as Chair. The Chair of the Faculty leads the monthly faculty meetings (all faculty) and the monthly Faculty Executive Committee meetings (faculty committee chairs, deans, tenure-track representatives to Academic Counsel, academic secretary).  The Chair of the Faculty also attends Academic Council, President’s Cabinet meetings, and Board of Trustee meetings.

Vice Chair of the Faculty is an elected position who supports the Chair of the Faculty, attends all of the same meetings (except Cabinet meetings).  After serving as Vice-Chair for a term of one year, the elected faculty member serves for the following year as Chair of the Faculty.

Academic Secretary is an appointed position who generally serves a term of three years.  The Academic secretary takes the minutes during the meetings of the faculty, Academic Council, Review and Appeals Board, the Faculty Executive Committee, and the Advisory Committee.  The Academic Secretary also announces faculty meetings, is responsible for running faculty elections, and attends Board of Trustee meetings. The Academic Secretary works closely with the Provost and other faculty leadership in all matters pertaining to the rules and regulations of the faculty as detailed in the Faculty Handbook.

Faculty Executive Committee is a monthly planning, generally meeting during common  time, that brings together faculty leadership with the divisional deans to coordinate on policy issues. Members include the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Faculty, the most recent past-Chair on active duty, Academic Secretary, Chairs of all of the standing committees, faculty representatives to the Trustees, the three Divisional Deans, the Vice Chair of Advisory, the Academic Secretary, and the tenure-track representatives to Academic Council. 

Standing Committees of Academic Council (tenured faculty)

Advisory Committee consists of nine tenured faculty, three from each division.  They are elected by elected by the full faculty for a term of two years (unless filling in as a one-year replacement) and generally meets weekly on Friday afternoons.   The Provost serves as Chair, and the Academic Secretary also attends the meeting. The Advisory Committee advises the Provost on matters of policy when asked, and offers recommendations on matters pertaining to appointments, reappointments, and promotions, reporting its advice to Academic Council and the President.

Review and Appeals Board (RAB) consists of thirty tenured faculty members, ten from each division, elected by the full faculty for a term of three years.  RAB meets several times each semester during common time. RAB’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the process for conferring tenure and promotions is carried out faithfully.

Untenured Representatives to Academic Council—the untenured, tenure-track faculty elects three representatives (one from each division) to serve on Academic Council.

Standing Committees of the Faculty (all ranks and appointments types)

Educational Policy Committee (EPC) consists of nine committee members—two tenured faculty from each of the three divisions, one graduate student, and two members of the Wesleyan Student Association.  Faculty members on EPC serve a term of two years.  EPC generally meets weekly during common hour and faculty receive no course release for service.  The EPC makes policy with respect to curricular changes.  It deliberates university-wide issues that affect the curricula (e.g., the formation of a new department, major, minor, course cluster, etc.) and authorizes significant curriculum changes within departments and other degree-granting units. 

Compensation and Benefits Committee (CBC) consists one tenured faculty from each division, two untenured members from different divisions, one Adjunct faculty member, one Professor of the Practice, and one professional Librarian.  All serve a term of two years.  The Provost and the Treasurer are ex-officio members.  The CBC shares with the University administration the responsibility of developing the budget, including faculty compensation and benefits.  It meets 2-3 times a semester.

Honors Committee consists of nine faculty members, three from each division, and they serve a term of two years.  The Honors committee is responsibility for examining candidates and making recommendations with respect to honors in general scholarship and University honors.  It also establishes guidelines and approves procedures for departmental honors.  The committee does not meet regularly, working more in the spring when the honors theses are submitted.

Committee on Rights and Responsibilities consists of six members, two from each division.  Within these six, at least one is tenured and at least one is untenured.  All serve a term of two years.  The Committee advises the president of the University on matters involving complaints against faculty by students or colleagues, and complaints by faculty involving other faculty or members of the administration.  The committee meets on an as-needed basis during common hour.

Board of Trustee Committees

Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees usually meets four times a year (September, November, March and May).  The Board of Trustees is comprised of 36 members (9 are elected by the alumni for three-year terms, and the remaining are elected by the Board for six-year terms), and serves as the governing body of the University.  The Trustees are responsible for ensuring that the university fulfills its mission, sustains its values, and serves both the current Wesleyan community as well as providing for future generations.

The Chair of the Faculty, Vice-Chair of the Faculty, and the Academic Secretary all attend the Board of Trustee meetings.  Additionally, the faculty elect three representatives to serve on specific committees:

Campus Affairs Committee—the faculty elects one faculty member to serve as a representative to the Campus Affairs Committee.  The Vice Chair of Advisory and the Chair of EPC also participate in this committee.  All of these faculty attend the relevant meetings of the Boards of Trustees and may participate in committee-related work between meetings.

Finance Committee—the faculty elects one faculty member to serve as a representative to the Finance Committee.  The Chair of the Faculty also participates.  Both the faculty representative and the Chair of the Faculty attend the relevant meetings of the Boards of Trustees and may participate in committee-related work between meetings.