The faculty of Amherst College consists of (1) the president, the provost and dean of the faculty, professors, associate professors, and assistant professors appointed to regular full-time or part-time tenured or tenure-track positions; (2) all individuals on non-tenure track, renewable contracts who teach regularly in the college curriculum and whose primary affiliation is with Amherst College; and (3) all persons with visiting teaching appointments, for the duration of their appointment at Amherst College, provided that appointment is their primary professional responsibility at the time (voted by the faculty, May 1990).
Subject to the reserve power of control by the trustees, the faculty (a) shall have the power and the duty to fix the requirements of admission, the course of study and the conditions of graduation, to establish rules for ascertaining the proficiency of students and for the assignments of honors, to determine the academic calendar, and to fix the times of general examinations; and, (b) may establish rules of conduct to be observed by the students and penalties for the violation thereof.
The exercise of any of the powers conferred on the faculty that involves a change in the educational policy of the college shall take effect only after the resolution of the faculty shall have been submitted to and approved by the trustees. It is always understood that the trustees reserve to themselves the power of developing the educational opportunities of the college by uniting or dividing and by increasing or decreasing departments.
The executive committee of the faculty is known as the Faculty Executive Committee. The composition of the committee, its powers, procedures and responsibilities, are more fully described in Sections III and IV of the Faculty Handbook.
The faculty of Amherst College is organized into departments and programs. The departments, however, are less formal and more flexible than in many other institutions. Departments are expected to reach decisions in a collegial fashion. Each department, by election, will recommend to the president of the college one of its members as chair.
a. Department Chairs
The responsibility of being chair will be shared by the members of the department, generally by the tenured members, although an untenured member may serve as chair. Members of the department should also share where appropriate the regular administrative work of the department so that it does not fall upon the chair alone. The term of appointment may vary, but usually a chair serves no more than three consecutive years. The president reserves authority, under special circumstances, to appoint or to remove a chair of a department.
Each department operates under a budget approved by the provost and dean of the faculty and the chief financial and administrative officer and voted by the board of trustees. This budget is under the control of the chair or other designated member of the department. No commitments should be made for any departmental expenses without prior approval of that person and any bills or vouchers submitted to the controller must have that person's written approval.
The provost and dean of the faculty annually informs each department chair of the current policies and procedures pertaining to the chair's responsibilities in such matters as hiring, reappointment, tenure, and promotion of faculty; budget projections; and the submission of course proposals for approval.
The duties of department chairs specifically include, but are not limited to the following:
Holding annual conversations with the department’s untenured faculty member(s). See III., D., 2.
Discussing procedures for reappointment and tenure with department members on the tenure track, and for tenure with newly reappointed members;
Discussing procedures for reappointment with lecturers in the department;
Adhering to the schedule and procedures for reappointment, tenure, and promotion reviews;
Reviewing with reappointment candidates a redacted version of the department’s reappointment recommendation and the minutes of the Tenure and Promotion Committee’s deliberations about the candidate’s reappointment case. The provost and dean of the faculty also discusses with reappointment candidates the minutes of the Tenure and Promotion deliberations about their cases;
Discussing with tenure candidates a redacted version of the department’s tenure recommendation;
Discussing with departmental applicants their proposals for tenure-track sabbatical fellowships;
Managing departmental reviews, in consultation and coordination with the provost and dean of the faculty’s office; preparing the departmental self-study, and consulting with the visiting review committee;
Discussing faculty and student grievances with the aggrieved parties;In most departments, representing the department in discussions of the department’s library budget with the director of the library;
Submitting annual evaluations of the department's staff.
b. Department Staff
Departments are assisted by a full-time or part-time academic department coordinator. Additional support is available through the Campus Print and Mail Center.