Sunday, March 13, 2011

Department Chair: Roles, Jobs, and Recomendations

A very interesting article about the responsibilities and problems of being the chair of a department. The article takes information from many studies and interviews. Posted here are the roles/ jobs of a department chair and implications and recommendations for departments on how to make the position of chair more effective.

This was found on I suggest reading the full article if your interested here

Table 1. Chair Roles
Administrative roles
  • Fiscal overseer [16]
  • Schedule coordinator [12]
  • Report generator [15]
  • Staff supervisor [3]
Leadership roles
  • Visionary [28]
  • Internal advocate [26]
  • Internal intermediary [6]
  • External liaison [22]
  • Curriculum leader [15]
  • Role model [24]
Interpersonal roles
  • Counselor [13]
  • Coach [18]
  • Mediator [16]
  • Climate regulator [13]
Resource development roles
  • Faculty recruiter [16]
  • Faculty mentor [17]
  • Faculty evaluator [9]
  • Resource warrior [22]

Implications and Practical Recommendations
  • Chairs should establish a “chair support group” that meets monthly to network and mentor colleagues.
  • Less experienced chairs should deliberately seek out more experienced chairs as mentors. Experienced chairs should offer their guidance.
  • Chairs can sustain their own desire for change in a department by fostering the development of other “change agents” in the department to assist in these efforts.
  • Formal leadership training opportunities should be directed toward chairs (e.g., President’s Leadership Program). Feedback intensive programs (e.g., 360-degree assessment) and those that allow chairs to share common methods for solving problems would be particularly helpful. Chair roles are complex and no single individual can be skilled at all of the roles.
  • Chairs should have coffee, take faculty members to lunch, walk around the building, sit in the lounge--do whatever it takes to establish informal lines of communication with faculty members in the department. Many of the difficult interpersonal issues become easier to resolve once you work on your own communication.
  • Chairs should get a name stamp and a trusted associate chair. They should delegate so they can spend time on the important tasks. Satisfied chairs took time for their own research. They were also more likely to mentor their faculty.
  • The practice of rotating department chairs every three to four years should be eliminated. Department chairs operate in a highly complex environment that is increasing more legalistic in nature. They oversee multi-million dollar budgets – including money obtained from state and federal grants. Furthermore, they are asked to provide leadership for highly skilled faculty and staff members who are the campus’ most valuable resources. To routinely leave the job to inexperienced administrators raises questions about whether or not universities are using their resources in the most efficient manner.

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