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Department Chair Resources


  • Serves as representative of department
  • Has a leadership role in hiring instructors & determining teaching duties
  • Oversees all faculty, program staff, and student employees
  • Collaborates with other department chairs by way of the Council of Chairs
  • Manages departmental functions, such as budget, goals, facilities, operations, committees, and more…
  • Promotes academic standards
    • For faculty: Upholds academic standards and performance
    • For students: Through academic policies and procedures, such as the academic responsibilities as found in the Student Code of Conduct and interdepartmental policies
    • For curriculum: Development, implementation, and assessment of standards for instructors
  • Responds to and resolves any student concerns, complaints, conflicts, and/or grade appeals process
    • If there is a need for Conflict Resolution Services to assist with complaint, department chair can call the Dean of Students Office to assist: 303-615-0220.
  • Department chairs must also teach at least three credits per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30)

*The above information is from the MSU Denver Faculty Employment Handbook.

  • The department chair becomes involved only after the student has already attempted to contact the instructor and:
    • the instructor is unable to meet with student,
    • instructor does not respond to student request to meet, or
    • the student is unsatisfied with the result of the meeting with their instructor.
  • The student must attempt to schedule a meeting with instructor prior to the last day of the fourth week of the semester following the assigned grade.
    • For example, if you want to appeal your Fall 2018 grade, you must do so within the first four weeks of the following Spring 2019 semester.
  • If the grade appeal is not resolved with the department chair, and a student files a petition for grade appeal with the Dean (College of Professional Studies, College of Business, School of Education, College of Letters, Arts & Science, or School of HEaT), then the department chair will be notified of the petition.
  • Check out the Grade Appeals Policy for more information.
  • The student is encouraged to contact their instructor directly to resolve situation.
    • Exception: If a student fears retaliation and can directly contact the department chair.
  • If the student is unsatisfied with resolution, or has not received response in a timely manner, the student has five working days to contact the department chair.
  • The student can submit a complaint form or a written complaint that addresses the issue to the department chair.
  • The department chair has five working days to respond and request a meeting with the student.
  • The department chair may review documents and may interview witnesses.
    • Witnesses can be identified by student or instructor.
  • After the review, the department chair may:
    • Reach a mutual acceptable resolution
    • Offer to observe or facilitate discussion between faculty and student
    • Address issue with faculty according to University policies
    • Request assistance of student conflict resolution services or other resources
    • Determine complaint is unfounded and take no further action except to document and communicate their decision to those involved.
  • Regardless of the ultimate decision, the department chair will communicate to the student and faculty involved, especially if there are next steps.
  • If student feels their complaint is not resolved after meeting with department chair, then student complaint form must be submitted to the Dean’s designee (aka the Associate Dean) within five working days of the department chair’s decision.
  • For more information, check out the Student Complaint Policy.
  • Student Conflict Resolution Services - Dean of Students Office – Tivoli 311 – 303-615-0220
    • If you want help understanding University policies, if you’re interested in conflict coaching, how to talk with your professor or would like to learn more about other conflict resolution options available to you (e.g., mediation), reach out to the Dean of Students Office.
  • Counseling Center – Tivoli 651 – 303-615-9988
    • All students have access to free mental health support through the Counseling Center, call or stop by to make an appointment.
  • Equal Opportunity (EO) – Jordan Student Success Building, 306 – 303-615-0036
    • All students have access to equal opportunity, please contact EO if you feel someone has discriminated against your civil rights.
  • Be proactive. Start early with your communication and don’t wait until it’s too late. In other words, don’t wait until the end of the semester!
  • Don’t suffer in silence. Adopt the attitude that your professor WANTS to help you and is THERE to help you.
    • Professors are passionate about their work and subject matter. Therefore, they want students to succeed.
  • Slow down and assess yourself. What are you struggling with in class: Content? Concepts? Note taking? Exams? Are you finding it hard to express yourself in papers? Understanding and assessing your needs will make it easier for your professor to understand your struggles.
  • How you communicate with your professor matters. Think through how you approach any communication in order to address your needs and maintain the relationship with your professor.
  • Make requests, not demands. For example, you could say, “I am concerned about my grade based on feedback on my paper/exam. Can you talk me through how I can excel on the next test/exam so I can do better?”
  • Think through your method of communication. Consider the following:
    • Know the professor’s preferred method of communication (phone, email, in person, other)
      • Know the professor’s office hours and make an appointment or stop by
    • Ask yourself: What type of problem am I trying to address?
    • Give time for the professor to respond to an email or phone call —give at least 48 hours for a response
  • Reasons for an in person meeting:
    • Lengthy questions about course material(s)
    • Grade concerns or appeals process
    • Requesting an incomplete or special exception(s)
    • An unexpected life event that might keep you from your academic goals
    • Conflict with classmates in a group project
    • Career advice
    • Any topic that would require a long conversation should not be done over email
  • Prepare for the meeting. What do you want to get out of it?
  • Show you are prepared. Make sure you have everything with you that you might need. Gather notes, papers, exams, syllabus, etc...
    • It is strongly advised you understand your class syllabus before meeting with your professor.
  • Reasons to email your professor:
    • To request an in person meeting
    • To clarify an assignment
    • A quick question that needs a short answer
    • To ask for a letter of recommendation
  • Check your syllabus. Be sure to double check your syllabus before emailing your professor. The answer might be within.
  • What to include in your email:
    • Subject Line. Insert a subject line topic that briefly describes situation. For example: “Psychology 1000-222 Question”
    • Be formal. Use “Dr.” (if applicable) or “Professor”
    • Course number. Specify what class (and section) you’re in
    • Use details. Explain why you’re emailing your professor
      • Don’t try to address a problem in an email. Request a meeting instead.
    • Offer meeting times. If you’re requesting a meeting with your professor, indicate what dates/times work for you. This gives them a few options to choose from.
      • Don’t be alarmed if those dates/times don’t work, as they may be teaching other courses during those times.
    • Closing. Give a salutation (for example, “Thanks!” or “Best”)
    • Signature. Put your name, MSU Denver 900 # and your preferred email.
  • Proofread. Double check your email for misspelled words/phrases.
  • Time. Give your professor time to respond.
    • If they don’t respond in 48-hours, send a follow up email.
    • Caveat. If you send an email over summer break, fall break, winter break, or spring break, you will more-than-likely wait longer for a response.
      • Remember: Your breaks are their breaks.
  • Example email:
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