What is your charge?
We are asking you to answer two questions: 
(1) What are the major issues facing the department?
(2) Who should lead the department?

What is the expected product?  
We want a report to the Dean consisting of two parts, corresponding to
the two questions. Part (1) should be suitable for sharing with the
new Chair and the department. Part (2) is confidential (to the extent
allowed by law). We want an unranked list with two or more names,
together with an assessment of the candidates' strengths and
weaknesses and the level of support they enjoy among the members of
the department. Willingness to serve is not a criterion when
evaluating candidates --- convincing a candidate to serve is the
Dean's job. Part (2) can also adress issues of a confidential nature
not suitable for Part (1).

What are your roles?
The function of the department-internal member of the committee is to
serve as a liaison to the department and as a source of information
for the external committee members. The internal member does not
participate in the interviews with department members and in the
writing of Part (2) of the report.

What is the process?
- Familiarize yourselves with the department by reading the most
  recent annual report(s) and the report from the last Academic
  Program Review, and by talking to the internal committee member. 
  Academic Program Reviews can be found at
- Send an email to the department members soliciting input (sample
  attached below).
- Conduct interviews with faculty, staff, students, and other
- Write the report. 

The most important part of the process is the interviews. EVERYBODY
TREATED CONFIDENTIALLY. It is probably a good idea to start by meeting
with the current Chair, with the Associate Chairs or others who have
important leadership functions, and with the department

The most efficient way of conducting the remaining bulk of the
interviews is a "surgical strike": Choose a day or two with enough
lead time, clear the decks for those days, and spend all day on
interviews. Twenty minute slots should be ok, with regular breaks for
you to catch your breath and to buffer time overruns. If the
department is large it may not be possible to have everybody meet with
all the externals committee members; you may have to split up. You
should prepare a schedule. The actual signup (filling the slots)
should be handled by the department.

Instead of meeting with individual graduate students, you may want to
propose meeting with them as a group, or meeting with
representatives. The same applies to postdocs and staff. However,
anybody who requests to meet with committee should be accomodated, and
you should always emphasize that the interviews will only be useful if
the interviewees are completely frank, and that all communications
with the committee will be treated confidentially.


Draft email to department

From: Astronomy Chair search committee
To:   Astronomy faculty, staff, and students
Re:   Astronomy Chair search

Arts and Sciences Dean David Hodge and Divisional Dean Ron Irving have
appointed a committee to conduct a search for the new Chair of Astronomy.
The committee consists of

Julianne Dalcanton, Associate Professor, Astronomy
Paula Heron, Associate Professor, Physics
Werner Stuetzle, Professor, Statistics (Committee Chair)

We are soliciting input from all faculty, staff, students, and other
departmental stakeholders. We want your views on what are the most 
significant current issues for the department, what its priorities 
should be for the next few years, and who you think would be most 
able to effectively guide the department. YOUR COMMUNICATIONS WILL 

We have set aside Tuesday, January 17 and Thursday, January 19 for
meetings with individuals or groups. Meetings will be with the
external committee members only and are expected to take about 30
minutes. Astronomy Administrator Stan Vlcek (221-7295, stan@astro)
will handle the scheduling. Please contact him for an appointment.

If you have any comments or concerns about the search, please contact
the Committee Chair.

If you want to know more about the search process, go to
and look for "Chair search".