Academic Unit Head/Department Chair

The Department of English at James Madison University invites applications for the position of Academic Unit Head (AUH) to begin July 1, 2022.   

Candidates should hold an appropriate terminal degree and have attained the rank of Full Professor (or be qualified for appointment at that rank).  The successful candidate should be able to: demonstrate a collaborative leadership style that involves working with colleagues both within and beyond the academic unit; articulate an ambitious, future-oriented vision for the future of the Department that includes attracting diverse new faculty and students to the program; lead efforts to advance equity and social justice; help the faculty identify and achieve emerging program priorities; manage enrollment; support faculty teaching, research, and creative scholarship in a variety of subfields; and effectively advocate for the Department in the ever-changing and challenging landscape of higher education. Teaching one course per semester, the AUH is a 12-month appointment and reports directly to the Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. 


The Department of English, which has approximately 40 full- and part-time faculty, offers a B.A. and an M.A. and serves students in the university’s general education program. It houses the University’s thriving creative writing minor, and faculty teach in interdisciplinary minors, including African, African American and Diaspora Studies; Environmental Humanities; Film Studies; Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies; and World Literature. 

Harrisonburg, Virginia, is a growing, progressive, and diverse community of about 53,000 residents (not including approximately 20,000 JMU students). In the heart of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg lies between Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains and George Washington National Forest in the Allegheny Mountains, among the oldest mountains on the earth. The cities of Washington, D.C. and Richmond are both about two hours away. New York City is a six-hour drive northeast. 


Applicants will submit a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, six professional references, and a diversity statement (as Other Document #1).

The two- to three-page cover letter should answer the following questions:

  • What motivates you to apply for this position?
  • What strengths and challenges do you see for the Department? Share and explain your vision. 
  • How do you describe your leadership style? For example, what opportunities and collaborations do you envision for the Department moving forward?

In addition to summarizing the candidate’s interest and qualification for the position, the candidate should prepare a separate diversity statement (uploaded as Other Document #1) that demonstrates the candidate’s record of commitment to diversity and describes ways in which they will enhance the department’s commitment to the diversity of the classroom, program, and university. The diversity statement—a roughly one-page, single-spaced document—should elaborate on the candidate’s past efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and a culture of belonging in the unit/college/University/profession. The statement should also describe how the applicant would propose advancing these values in the Department.  


James Madison University is an equal opportunity employer committed to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive work and educational community that is free of all forms of discrimination. This institution does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. We promote access, inclusion, and diversity for all students, faculty, staff, constituents, and programs, believing that these qualities are foundational components of an outstanding education in keeping with our mission. The university is interested in candidates whose experience and qualifications support an ongoing commitment to this core quality. Anyone having questions concerning discrimination should contact the Office for Equal Opportunity: (540) 568-6991. 

Review of completed applications will begin on October 18, 2021.  Applicants must apply online at: (posting number – F1686).  The interview process will begin in early November 2021 with the goal of closing the search late January 2022/early February 2022. 

Please address any questions to Gwyneth Mellinger, search committee chair ( 

For more information about the role of the AUH see Academic Affairs Policy #2: Academic Unit Heads and the Academic Unit Heads Manual

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