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What Does a University Chancellor Do?

By Angela Johnson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A university chancellor is the top official position that is available in a college or university setting. This person is responsible for the entire faculty and student body as well as the financial health and well-being of the school. A university chancellor oversees all programs run by the university, and the heads of each department must report to the chancellor. A chancellor acts as the chief executive officer in the college or university he or she works for.

Many universities and colleges employ a chancellor as well as a vice-chancellor, and this is especially true with campuses that have a large student population. Although chancellors are considered the head of a college or university, he or she can sometimes report back to a governing board of trustees or other official board that governs the university. The university chancellor also watches over all funds that are raised to support programs at the school, as well as all expenditures going out. If there are not enough funds to support all of the existing programs at a school, the chancellor may choose to cut out certain programs. Receiving adequate funding is what allows many programs to take place at the university level.

Each university has its own core values and ethics that are important to the school. The chancellor usually sets the precedence with these values, as he constantly strives to instill the core values as a mission statement that represents the school. Many chancellors make their school's mission statement the basis for every program offered by the school. This statement is typically ingrained in the school's logo and most material that represents the school.

College administrators as well as all heads of the university departments, typically called deans, must report to the chancellor as the leading officer of the school. Deans of all departments are responsible for their particular department. For example, the dean of athletics is responsible for all physical education as well as all sports teams in the college or university. The dean reports back to the chancellor all information about the department, including financial data and overall performance reports.

A university chancellor can have assistant chancellors as well as a vice chancellor. These positions are created in larger universities. This can help take some of the workload off the chancellor.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Telsyst — On Feb 17, 2014

A university president is akin to a political position in many large, public universities.

People in these positions often hold legal or advanced business degrees and are appointed by a board of trustees that includes the governor or some other high ranking state official.

It is not uncommon for retired captains of industry or former government officials to serve as university presidents, usually for a relatively brief term.

By Glasis — On Feb 16, 2014

In the United States, the heads of most colleges and universities are called presidents, with a few exceptions.

In schools with multiple campuses, the head of each branch campus is often referred to as a chancellor. This person is responsible for his or her specific campus and reports to the president for matters that affect the entire university.

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