At Western, hundreds of different people will make the rules for you. Most of these people have a small impact, but others, like your professors and the school's top administrators, will affect you profoundly. While complicated, there is order to whose boss is whom and what each of these many people is supposed to do.

Professors

The hierarchy at Western begins at the bottom with professors. You'll be well-acquainted with professors as you go through your school year. They will often be your first point of contact when you have questions about the rules, and their rules will affect you on the most basic level as they pertain to your grades. They generally have the biggest impact on your school life by determining what you learn and how you're graded.

Program and Department Administrators

Above the professors are administrators who oversee the whole program or department. For instance, an engineering professor reports to a group of administrators, such as a department chair, an undergraduate chair and others. While professors manage courses, the department administrators manage what courses professors have to control; they determine which courses are taught in the program, at what times and by whom. They are also responsible for managing the money their bosses allot them. This level of administration is especially important in ensuring all your courses required for graduation are scheduled fairly and not overrun with applicants.

Different departments have different positions such as secretaries or undergraduate chairpersons, but department administrators are always professors who specialize in the subject matter they oversee.

Faculty Administrators

Collections of similar departments and programs are organized into large groups called faculties. The Faculty of Science, for example, contains departments like chemistry, biology and physics. Departmental administrators report to faculty administrators, who are paid more and exercise their power over a much larger group. 

Instead of department chairs, faculties have deans. Faculty administrators, who are professors and academics in the fields they manage, also deal with budgets — every faculty is allotted a certain amount of money from the pool that must support the entire university. Every budget season, the faculty higher-ups get their allotment and negotiate with department higher-ups about how much money they should get. How much money each department gets affects what courses are offered and how often. When faculties are struggling financially, it's up to them to get help or to downsize one of their departments.

The Administration

Above all of these levels there is the administration, which constitutes and governs the entire school. All faculties, including all their programs, administrators, and professors, report to and are represented in this level of the hierarchy.

Things get more complex here. Most importantly, there are two groups, which are a bit like the legislature or congress of a real government: the senate and the board of governors. A mixture of go-getter students, professors and full-time administrators make up these bodies. While the groups have different roles formally, they also, confusingly, often do the same things.

By far the most important work they do is form the university's budget. This budget determines how much money each faculty gets, which in turn determines how much money is put into your education.

Beyond budgeting, the senate occasionally makes big changes to your school life. Recently, the senate approved an entire week off classes in October, when previously there was only a week-long break in February; this came after many student complaints over past years pertaining to student mental health. 

Executives

Above all these levels are a select few, full-time, non-professor administrators like our president and vice-presidents. They make a lot of money (often over $200,000 or $300,000 annually) and are like a government's prime minister and their cabinet. They are the highest-paid, most prominent people in our school, particularly the president, Amit Chakma.

So here's the chain of command in rough: you, professors, department, faculty, administration, executives. Like a real government, you are at the bottom and your "taxes" (tuition and fees) pay for everything, but also, it's set up to work for you.

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Martin is the Senior News Editor at the Gazette. You can contact him at martin.allen@westerngazette.ca, or @mtrallen on Twitter.

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