University of Massachusetts Amherst

Anthropology

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Departmental Governance

The Department Meeting and the Committee Structure

The Faculty Caucus of the department includes all faculty members. The Graduate Student Caucus (GSC) is organized in a manner similar to the AUC (Anthro Undergrad Caucus). These three caucuses feed into the Department Meeting. Membership in the Department Meeting is: all faculty; a designated number of representatives from both the Undergraduate and the Graduate caucuses. The graduate and undergraduate representatives have full voting rights in the Department Meeting. The Department Meeting usually convenes monthly during the school year in accordance with a schedule announced at the beginning of each academic year.

Under existing departmental by-laws, and by tradition, the Department Meeting sets policy and makes decisions in the most significant areas of the life of the department. (Certain decision-making powers are vested, by departmental by-laws or by university-wide regulations, in the Department Chair or in specific committees; the Department Meeting may act in an advisory capacity in those instances, but it does not then actually make decisions.)

In addition to the caucuses and the Department Meeting, the department is structured with several "officers" and a number of both standing and ad hoc committees. The officers of the department have formal status and, among other things, serve to connect the department to other parts of the University. Foremost among these officers is the Department Chair, who handles the departmental budget and a variety of other administrative tasks, and who connects the department to the Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The Chair serves in an ex officio capacity on most committees and chairs the Department Meeting. The Chair is also the person who hears complaints and problems from the various people associated with the department and who generally tries to keep the entire operation running smoothly.

The two other major officers are the Graduate Program Director (GPD), who works with graduate students, maintains their files, and connects with the Graduate School; and the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS). Other officers include: the Department Honors Coordinator, the Graduate Admissions Director, and the Faculty Union representative, the Affirmative Action Officer.

The Department of Anthropology tries to keep the number of its standing committees to a minimum, in order to simplify the administrative process. The two major committees are the Personnel Committee and the Executive Committee. Recently, a Curriculum Committee was permanently appointed with 3 faculty members (1 from each subfield) who serve 3 year terms and 2 graduate students who serve 1 year terms.

The Personnel Committee is made up of: a chairperson, who is a faculty member and is elected by the faculty; two members who are faculty members elected by the faculty; the Department Chair, ex officio; one Graduate student, elected by the GSC; one Undergraduate, elected by the AUC. This committee reviews and recommends on all major faculty personnel actions (i.e., hiring, tenure, promotions and merit raises). The student members of the Personnel Committee participate fully in its deliberations. University regulations do not permit student members to vote on faculty personnel actions, but still we find that student participation and voice in the discussions that precede any votes are very important and influential.

The Executive Committee of the Department is made up of: the Chairperson of the Personnel Committee, the Director of Graduate Studies, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Department Chair, one Undergraduate (elected by the AUC) and one Graduate student (elected by the GSC). The Executive Committee assists the Chair in the routine operation of the Department, helps resolve problems, refers matters to various other groups in the department, and handles the selection of teaching assistants.

Ad hoc committees are formed whenever a particular task needs doing. For example, ad hoc committees handle such matters as the periodic review of the curriculum and of major requirements and hiring of new faculty. Student members, from the caucuses, are asked to join such committees.

Download a detailed description of key faculty elective or appointive positions.

 
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