Roles and Responsibilities
of Heads of Departments and Schools
Authorised by the Vice-Chancellor: 19 May 1999
Amendments: Jun 1992, May 1999, May 2001, May 2002
- Strategic Directions
- Academic Leadership
- Staff Development and Management
- Finance and Infrastructure Management
- Method of Appointment
- Term of Office
- Attributes, Characteristics and Skills of Heads of Department
The University of Adelaide seeks to be recognised as a high quality,
research intensive university of international distinction. The head is an important
member of the University's leadership and management structure, playing a critical
part in achieving the University's strategic objectives. The prime role of the
head must be to provide academic and administrative leadership to the department,
within the context of the University's Statutes concerning departmental governance.
While academic leadership in a department will often be shared, particularly with
the professoriate, the head is ultimately accountable for the management of a
In providing leadership and management to the department as part of a broader
leadership and management role in a faculty, the head will have the following
broad responsibilities within the context of the University's and the faculty's
- the strategic direction of the department and implementing change;
- the academic leadership of the department which will include responsibility
for the management, development and quality of the department's teaching, research
and student support services;
- the development and management of departmental staff; and
- the management and development of the department's finances and infrastructure.
All of these responsibilities will be carried out within the context of the University's
statutory obligations regarding Occupational Health and Safety, and its principles
of Equality of Opportunity.
As a member of a faculty's academic leadership and management group,
the head will be responsible for:
- the development, implementation and maintenance of appropriate academic,
human resource, and finance and infrastructure planning and monitoring processes;
- the allocation of duties to departmental staff to ensure the effective performance
of the department's teaching, research, research education and service functions;
- monitoring the academic and service activities of the department, including
for example, teaching and assessment practices, post-graduate supervision, and
the quality of information provided to students; and
- the translation and communication of University-wide strategies and policies
within the department.
This will involve:
- encouraging excellence in learning, teaching, research, research education
and professional activities;
- encouraging collaboration with other departments and academic organisational
units as appropriate;
- representing the department's academic interests, in the context of University-wide
strategies and directions, to industry, government, the professions and educational
communities in local and, where appropriate, international arenas;
- representing the department's interests, in the context of University-wide
strategies and directions, in internal University forums as appropriate, and vice-versa.
Staff Development and Management
Key responsibilities will include:
- orienting and guiding all staff in the understanding of their role and contribution
to the University and faculty in the context of the department's strategic directions.
This will require heads to manage effective planning and development review and
related processes such as staff performance within their department, and to communicate
departmental directions within this context;
- the professional development of all staff in the department; and
- the management of all other human resources issues including recruitment,
selection, staff performance and grievances. The head will also ensure that the
working, learning, teaching and research environment is safe, free from harassment
and discriminatory practices and conducive to the activities of the department.
All of these responsibilities are to be carried out with the support of the faculty
and the central Human Resources department.
Finance and Infrastructure Management
This will include:
- the financial management of the department including the establishment of
budgets and plans for human resources, infrastructure and equipment expenditure,
and monitoring expenditure against allocations. The precise ways in which this
occurs will differ from faculty to faculty;
- pursuing opportunities to increase access to untied non-Government revenue;
- the management of departmental space.
Method of Appointment
Heads of department will normally be appointed by the Vice-Chancellor
on the recommendation of Executive Deans of faculties. In making their recommendation,
Executive Deans will certify that their advice is based on consultation which
will take the form of election. Where no candidate obtains the necessary support,
the Executive Dean will recommend to the Vice-Chancellor how to fill the headship.
In a department with no Chairs, the headship will be held by an incoming Chair
for a period agreed with the Vice-Chancellor.
Candidates for election as head will be drawn from professors and
tenured members of the department who have the status of senior lecturer or above
and are employed at least 0.8 time by the University. Professors are eligible
for election whether or not they are tenured, provided that the duration of employment
is for a period that allows for a reasonable term of office in the head of department
Term of Office
The term of office for a head of department will normally be for a
period of up to five years.
A salary package reflecting the nature and scope of the head of department
position will be negotiated between the appointee and the Executive Dean.
Attributes, Characteristics and Skills of Heads of Department
Heads of department will possess the following characteristics, attributes
- a strong academic record respected by the head's peers;
- a capacity to provide effective academic and administrative leadership;
- an ability to communicate with a wide range of people;
- strong interpersonal and representation skills;
- effective academic planning and strategy formation skills; and
- a capacity to play an effective role as part of the University's leadership
and management team.
The departmental electorate in electing a head, and the Executive Dean in making
a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor, will assess the elected head against
Before taking up their appointment, heads of department will reach
an agreement with Executive Deans on the performance standards by which they will
be held accountable. This agreement will encompass the professional development
of the head as well as the remuneration package.
While priorities will vary from faculty to faculty, common performance indicators
for heads will be as follows:
- produce or update the department's strategic plan and implement the priorities
specified within nominated time frames;
- provide leadership in relation to departmental teaching, research and student
- manage departmental finances and infrastructure within the budget allocated;
- manage and develop all departmental staff in the context of relevant departmental
and University-wide plans.
Specific priorities and time frames will be specified agreed between Executive
Deans and heads around these common indicators on an individual basis. Additional
indicators may also be negotiated between Executive Deans and heads.
For further information contact Human Resources.