University departments are required to submit an annual report each year at an appointed time, usually at the end of an academic or fiscal year. An annual report reflects the activities, accomplishments and challenges of an academic department in a given year. It is used to report to the university and school, and as a means to gauge funding needs and goal progression. It can also be used as a marketing tool, to help solicit donations and federal or private funding. Formats vary, but the reporting information is fairly standard.

Form a committee comprised of staff and faculty who will contribute information or write sections of the department's annual report. For example, a fiscal staff member may supply information on grant funding or salaries. And the chair of the department may want to write about faculty accomplishments or concerns. Discuss what information needs to be included in the report and the deadlines that must be met. Write an outline that delineates the annual report information and who will be responsible for supplying what data. Assign one person to compile all the information and write the final annual report.

Center the title and date of the document. Insert a running page header, flush right at the top of each page (except for page one), with the title of the document followed by the page number.

Use the following headings: I. Executive Summary II. Department Mission and Program Goals III. Progress IV. Strategic Plan V. Appendix

Substitute your own headings for the ones above if your department or school has an annual report template.

Write the executive summary. Often written or outlined by the chair of the department, the executive summary includes the highlights of the previous academic or fiscal year. This section should be written in narrative form (not bullet points), and should include new initiatives, collaborative endeavors, activities focused on faculty and student retention, efforts focused on curriculum and student learning and opportunities, and development efforts.

Write your department's mission, which succinctly defines its educational and professional focus, in Mission and Program Goals. Then write your overall program goals, and indicate any changes in priorities since the last annual report.

Write an overview of how well your department met the program goals of the previous year under the Progress heading. In this section you can include a few paragraphs about how department strengths were leveraged and report any challenges that came up along the way. This is the section in which you can expound upon issues that were summarized in the executive summary. Write how well you supported the overarching goals of the school, college or division. Did the performance and accomplishments of your faculty and students enhance the reputation of the division? Include any interdisciplinary initiatives or collaborations that would enhance relationships with other divisions or institutions.

Write a brief strategic plan of how you will achieve your goals for the next year.

Include documents that support assertions made in your annual report, and any lists and statistics that will provide an accurate annual snapshot of your department faculty and student population, in the appendix. One example is a list of faculty, including rank, degrees held, professional service and honors. Student statistics are also usually included, including new students, graduates and diversity information. Also include a list of courses taught and any other supporting documents that might be relevant to the report.