Other Department Guidelines

  1. Goals and Mission of the Department

    The Department of English is charged with responsibility for a number of complex, interrelated, and essential missions involving students, faculty, and curricula.  In the broadest terms, we are centrally concerned with teaching undergraduates throughout the Kent State University system to read critically and to write effectively, and charged with the training of future teachers in those areas at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels.  The skills in which we train students through various courses in writing and literature, as one should expect, encompass the capacities to comprehend, absorb, retain, and abstract information, but far more than those as well.  Our courses, individually and in focused degree programs, foster crucial cognitive capacities, affective abilities, and personal qualities that are the prerequisites for personal fulfillment, career success, and responsible service in a culturally diverse, rapidly changing, and increasingly global society.  Among these are the appreciation of a variety of complex and conflicting perspectives, tolerance of differing outlooks and experiences, and the ability to analyze and to synthesize disparate viewpoints and elements into a coherent and meaningful whole.  In other words, as a discipline at the heart of the traditional liberal arts core, we do not emphasize only the learning of a discrete body of information so much as we transmit skills that prepare students for lifelong learning and full participation in a democratic society.

    Conceived more specifically, our mission is:

    • To instruct all undergraduate students in written communication in required first-year classes and in advanced writing electives;
    • To instruct undergraduates in critical thinking and interpretive reading, and to introduce them to research writing in English 21011 and to literary traditions of different cultures and a variety of interpretive strategies in Kent Core classes, key components of the General Education Program;
    • To maintain the ESL Center and provide ESL instruction through University classes, and through institutes and workshops;
    • To offer training in the discipline to students preparing to teach at primary and secondary levels;
    • To instruct undergraduates in the major, as general career preparation in the liberal arts, pre-professional training for law, medicine, business and fields such as library and information science, education, and publishing and as a foundation for further study in English;
    • To offer graduate instruction in several programs leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. in English, in Comparative Literature, in TESL, and in Rhetoric and Composition, training graduates to enter college-level teaching and related fields; and
    • To engage in and disseminate research, scholarship, and creative work in our discipline.

    It is also important to stress that these missions are inextricably bound together in various ways.  For example, faculty who teach writing at the graduate level train graduate students who then, in turn, teach writing to undergraduates.  In this way, resources that may appear to support one component of our mission activity provide the Department and the University with multiple benefits.  It would be practically impossible as well as theoretically unjustifiable to attempt to reduce resources in one mission area without adversely affecting our overall efforts.

    Other special features of the Department include:

    • Responsibility for the University Writing Program and other central components of the Kent Core;
    • Support of and participation in a number of interdisciplinary programs and units, including the Institute for Applied Linguistics, the Institute for Bibliography and Editing, the Department of Pan-African Studies, the Office of Undergraduate Studies;  the Arts and Sciences Minors in Women’s Studies, American Studies, AMRS, LGTBS , Religion Studies, and Jewish Studies; and the Liberal Studies M.A.
    • Support for a variety of undergraduate creative writing programs, in and out of the classroom;
    • Active involvement in international exchange programs;
    • Extensive faculty participation in the Honors College;
    • A large faculty and curricular presence throughout the Regional Campus system;
    • Extensive contact with secondary schools;
    • Active involvement in the cultural life of the University through the co-sponsorship of the Wick Poetry Readings and visits by scholars and writers; and
    • Faculty involvement in the editing of various scholarship journals, service on the editorial boards of university presses, and the editing of scholarly book series.


  2. Election Procedures

    1. Electorate

    The electorate for FAC shall consist of those faculty who are currently appointed full-time tenure track or tenured.  The electorate for other Department committees, such as the Program Committees, will include the electorate for FAC plus others who may be on administrative appointment but also hold professional faculty rank, with the sole exception of the Department Chair.  This broader electorate will also be consulted in any straw polls or other ballots authorized by FAC.  The electorate for full-time NTT faculty representatives to Department committees shall consist of faculty on all campuses who are members of this bargaining unit.  The electorate for part-time faculty representatives to Department committees shall consist of faculty on all campuses who hold such appointments.  Any questions about eligibility will be decided by the Department Chair upon consultation with the Chair of the Elections Committee, and, if appropriate, additional consultation with FAC.

    All graduate students are eligible to vote for graduate representatives to the Writing Program Committee, the Undergraduate Studies Committee, the Graduate Studies Committee, and FAC, as well as the officers of AGES.  Elections for graduate representatives will be conducted by AGES in accord with the provisions of its constitution and bylaws.

    2. Electoral Process

    All of the following stipulations hold for all Department elections and all Program Committee elections except those for graduate student representatives.

    • Committee elections will be conducted in two stages, comprising a nominating ballot and a subsequent election ballot for all elective positions.  Faculty applying for promotion in a given year will stand for nomination at their current rank.  Faculty on administrative appointment may not stand for election to committees in the following year regardless of their intent to return to non-administrative status.  Sufficient time and notification must be allowed between the stages to allow the nominees to withdraw from elections if they so choose.  Normally, the nomination round will begin no later than February 1 in any academic year.  Results of each round will be published in the weekly newsletter or in another appropriate manner.  Successive ballots will be timed by the Election Committee to insure that elections are completed at the close of the Spring Semester.
    • If only one person is nominated for any elected position, that person shall be deemed to have won the election.  In all post-nomination round elections, the candidate with a plurality shall be deemed to have won.  In the event of a tie, there shall be a run-off election immediately after the results are announced.
    • Balloting shall be secret.  Voters sign the envelopes containing their ballots.  It shall be the responsibility of the Election Committee to open the ballots in such a way as to guarantee that secrecy is maintained.
    • Candidates represent the rank which they hold at the time of the election.  If their rank changes after they win an election, they will be ineligible to serve, and replacements shall be selected in accord with the policy described below.
    • If a vacancy in an elective position occurs, the runner-up for the position shall fill the vacancy for a period no longer than one year.  If the runner-up to an elective position on FAC cannot serve, a special election will be held to fill the position.  If the runner-up to any other elective position is not available to serve, the Department Chair shall appoint a suitable replacement.
    • Elections to FAC of at-large representatives shall be conducted after elections of representatives by rank.  The first round will be for at-large representatives selected by campus affiliation; the final round will be for the at-large representative from all campuses.
  3. Evaluation of Temporary Faculty

    New Part-time faculty will be observed by a two-person team, one chosen by the Writing Program Coordinator and one by the candidate, during the first semester of employment.  At the end of the third week of the second semester of employment, the faculty member will submit a teaching portfolio, which includes the two observation reports and additional information as indicated on the portfolio guidelines sheet available in the Writing Program Office, 206 SFH.

    Ideally, the faculty teams doing the observations will submit to the Chair a joint report – signed and dated – of the class observed.  If the appointed and chosen observers are unable to observe the same class, each observer may submit to the Chair a signed and dated report.  Comments may include the following:

    • effectiveness of organization and use of class time;
    • ability to elicit discussion;
    • ability and willingness to answer questions;
    • respect for students;
    • interaction of students with students and of students with the instructor;
    • knowledge of material being presented;
    • clarity in explanation of assignments; and
    • other comments deemed relevant to teaching performance by those doing the peer reviews.

    The teaching portfolio should include the following:

    • Syllabi and supplemental handouts for the semester under review and the two most recently completed semesters.  (Those teachers submitting a portfolio for the first time should submit syllabi and supplemental handouts for only the current and previous semester of employment.)
    • Student evaluation summaries and all written student comments for the three most recently completed semesters.  (Those teachers submitting a portfolio for the first time should submit summaries and comments for only the previous semester of employment.)
    • A set of graded papers from one class during the semester in which the teaching portfolio is reviewed or the most recently completed semester.
    • Reports of two classroom observations made during the semester previous to the one in which the portfolio is being evaluated.
    • Any other materials the temporary faculty members deems professionally relevant – publications, committee work, departmental service, vita, etc.

    This review will result in a written evaluation, including a rank (defined as performance rating along a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high), by the PT Review Subcommittee of FAC.  The members of this committee include the Chair, the Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, the Graduate Studies Coordinator, one member of FAC who holds a TT appointment, the PT faculty representative to FAC, and the Writing Program Coordinator (who chairs the subcommittee).

    Faculty members will be given a copy of the written FAC evaluation and the classroom observations, and they will retain the right to request additional evaluations.

    All other PT faculty will not undergo observations except in the cases of underperforming PT faculty as discussed in the following paragraph.  However, those faculty members will be required to submit syllabi, a set of writing assignments, and a representative sample of graded papers once a year (usually in fall semester) for each different course preparation.  These documents plus the student evaluations are required for reappointment and will be reviewed each year by the PT Review Subcommittee of FAC to determine the faculty member’s continued teaching success.  A faculty member in this category will not be notified after the review unless there has been a change in his or her status.  Such notification will be made approximately one month into the semester following the review.

    Those faculty who receive two or more semesters of weak student evaluations (deviating from the norm by +0.75, for example, in terms 21 and 22), a number of legitimate student complaints, or who produce insufficient or no syllabi, will be contacted privately by the Writing Program Coordinator to discuss the possibility of continued faculty development.  The specific form of that development work will be decided by the faculty member in consultation with the Writing Program Coordinator, but the options will include continuing observations for a period of time, undergoing a portfolio review, or designing a professional growth and assessment project.  Detailed descriptions of these options are available in the Writing Program Office, 206 SFH.

    Those faculty who would like evidence of further faculty development work for such purposes as letters of recommendation, promotion, consideration for NTT positions, general teaching improvement, or applications for teaching awards may consult the Writing Program Coordinator to discuss taking on some or all of the faculty development options indicated above.