Department Chair Student Responsibilities

Recruiting Students

Recruiting students is key to building a dynamic department, as well as supporting the overall health of the college. Chairs can play a key role in this process.

Working with the Admission Office is important for any department. The upcoming year's schedule of official visit days can be found here — expect some requests for help leading up to these events. During the course of the year, the Admission staff will be:

  • Calling individual faculty to ask them to meet with prospective students. Since a large part of the attraction of a small college is the interaction between students and faculty, this is absolutely key to attracting new students. Encourage your departmental faculty to cooperate when it's possible.
  • Looking for appropriate classes for prospective students to visit. If there is room, and if the day's work is conducive to having visitors, please encourage your department to open their classes.
  • Staffing information tables — some departments like to develop displays (posters) or have small trinkets (pens, pencils with the department's name) to hand out. Admission will provide info sheets.
  • Serving on panels — typically this is just to answer questions from students and parents.
  • Calling on you, as chair, to sit down with them to review "talking points" for your department. What should admission counselors be telling prospective students about your department?
  • Do you have ideas about new ways to communicate with prospective students about your department? Contact admission/marketing staff with your ideas.
  • Questions about visit days or tours? Contact Jill Kuhlers (

Current Students

The department chair is often the first point of contact when students who are majors (or minors) have questions. A few key issues:

  • Departmental honors: Do you have clear policies for what students need to do (and when they need to do it) if they wish to complete an honors project? Students who wish to receive departmental distinction, magna cum laude or summa cum laude must complete an honors project.
  • Practicum approval: In some cases, if a student wishes to receive practicum credit for an independent project, it requires departmental approval. See the Coe Catalog section on practicum for details.
  • If a student is declaring a major in your department, you (as chair) may be able to assign that student to an advisor in the department. To the extent possible, try to balance the advising load among your faculty.
  • Student complaints about departmental courses: If a student feels she or he has not been treated fairly in a class, or college policies have been violated, the student should first be encouraged to discuss it with the instructor in question. If the student is uncomfortable discussing it one-on-one, the chair may play a useful role by sitting in on the conversation. The chair should — as impartially as possible — attempt to ascertain the facts of the matter — dates and times, what was said, what written policies were given to students, etc. If, after discussion with all parties involved, no mutually satisfactory agreement is reached, the student should be informed that she or he may take the issue to the provost's office.
  • If a student from your department will be presenting a poster or paper at a professional meeting, the Provost's Office can supplement departmental funds. Encourage the student to apply for funding through the Application for Student Conference Travel Funds form.
  • Degree audits: During the fall term of each year, you will receive a packet from the Registrar's Office with individual sheets for each of your graduating seniors. It is very important that you, as department chair, review each of these records to determine whether the student has met requirements for a major or minor in your department. (The Registrar's Office will take care of general education and other college graduation requirements.) These documents need to be returned to the registrar quickly so that they can contact the students to complete any missing requirements.
    • It's useful to develop a checklist for major (and minor) requirements.
    • With the exception of a few departments, graduates must have an average GPA of 2.0 in the major. This major average GPA need only be calculated if it will be close to 2.0.

Safety & Well-Being Issues

While safety issues may play a more prominent role in some departments than in others, it is good for all chairs to be aware of college policies.

Mental health issues
If you, or one of your department members, is worried about a student's behavior, please contact Student Life.

  • "Life Resources at Coe" — nice graphic suitable for posting outside your office, with phone numbers of contacts.
  • "Helping Students Get Help" — a step-by-step guide to helping students who are victims of sexual assault. It includes the details of being a mandatory reporter and potential syllabus language. Well worth your time to read through and share with your department.

Chemical safety
If your department routinely purchases/uses/disposes of chemicals, you should be in touch with Susan Noreuil (, the college's chemical hygiene officer. She has put together policies required by the federal government for the campus -—you can find them here.

  • Chemical Hygiene Plan. The Chemical Hygiene Plan covers:
    • Personnel responsible for the plan
    • Medical surveillance for exposure monitoring
    • Determination and control of hazards
    • Proper working procedures for chemical laboratory hood and other protective equipment
    • Standard and specific operating procedures
    • Any additional protective measures needed
    • Employee information and training
  • ​Coe College Pregnancy and Reproductive Health Document for Students
  • Disposal of Hazardous Waste at Coe 
  • Fire Safety 

Bias incidents
Coe College is steadfast and intentional in our commitment to providing a safe learning and working environment for all members of our campus community. Regrettably, bias incidents (defined as a behavior or act — verbal, written or physical — which is personally directed against or targets an individual or group based on perceived or actual characteristics such as race, color, religious belief, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, disability, veteran status or age) may still happen. It is important that if such bias incidents were to happen, all members of the Coe community know how and with whom to share this information, and report these incidents.

If there is an immediate physical threat to you or the community, please contact Campus Safety & Security immediately at 319.399.8888.

Additionally, for non-immediate physical threats and safety issues, you may contact the following on-campus resources to report your concerns.