Workshop Topics

Serving as Department or Division Chair: Beyond the Job Description
Few chairs planned to serve as an administrator, manager, or chair when they were in graduate school or even when they were starting their academic careers. Most job descriptions for department chairs are simply lists of activities for which the chair is responsible. These lists suggest that chairs are task-oriented managers who schedule courses, handle student complaints, order equipment, prepare reports and evaluations, and take care of other departmental business. How do they manage these new responsibilities along with their teaching and scholarly duties? Chairs also must assume responsibility for departmental leadership, representing the department to the campus and community, serving as departmental advocate, and mentoring junior faculty members. Does the campus culture support a weak chair or a strong chair model? Is a rotating chair or a “chair for life” model more effective? What are the most effective strategies for communicating with faculty colleagues and senior administrators? What tasks and projects might be successfully delegated to colleagues? What does the dean or CAO expect from chairs? Participants will discuss their roles as strategic partners using interactive exercises and small group discussions.
 
Becoming a Leader on Campus
Department and division chairs occupy a pivotal role in the administrative structure of a college or university. The job often has been described as “leading from the middle.” How does the chair learn to lead? What are the potential challenges in the role of leader? How can the chair as leader influence faculty colleagues within and beyond the department or division? Even though department or division chairs may not aspire to become deans, they can develop a wider vision and understanding of campus-wide initiatives in which they might assume a leadership role. What campus resources do chairs tap to develop an institutional perspective? How can campus governance be a vehicle for this development? How can a chair find a mentor? What opportunities might be available when the chair is no longer the department or division leader? Participants will learn how to identify opportunities for leadership at the chair level.
 
Dealing with Difficult Faculty Conversations
Department and division chairs can prevent many issues from mushrooming into major problems through early intervention. Sometimes chairs delay difficult conversations with colleagues because they lack expertise to encourage change or to deliver bad news tactfully. How can the department or division chair understand better why a faculty member is less effective than expected? What strategies can motivate and support faculty members to become more productive? What skills and strategies might chairs develop to facilitate difficult conversations? Participants will explore how to have a frank conversation with a colleague and have an opportunity to practice proven techniques.
 
The Wisdom of Chairs and “Open Mike” for Participants
What are the strategies that experienced chairs employ to advance the work of the department or division? What lessons have they learned about working with their colleagues, managing their time, and delegating departmental responsibilities? Participants will learn from veteran chairs, contribute their own tips for the benefit of other participants, and have an opportunity to raise issues with one another.
 
Preventive Law I: Adhering to Institutional Procedures and Policies—Hiring Practices
An attorney with experience in relevant cases will discuss hiring practices from the viewpoint of the department or division chair’s role. Discussion will focus on the importance of following effective procedures and institutional policies in drafting the position description, appointing the search committee, managing candidate files, checking references, and interviewing candidates on the phone and in person.
 
Preventive Law II: Adhering to Institutional Procedures and Policies—Faculty Evaluation
An attorney will lead a discussion of the chair’s role in faculty evaluation for reappointment, tenure, and promotion. Topics for discussion include the importance of adhering to effective procedures and institutional policies when documenting professional performance, the role of student evaluations of instruction, peer review of teaching, the evaluation of scholarly activities, and contributions to the work of the department or division.
 
Using Data Effectively
Good data can inform decisions about revisions to existing academic programs, help determine new curricular directions, and suggest strategies for attracting students to the major. How can departmental or divisional level data—including data from assessment of “learning outcomes,” program reviews, campus satisfaction surveys, enrollment trends, and national surveys such as the National Survey of Student Engagement—be used to strengthen departments and divisions? Chairs will learn how to use data for revisions to the curriculum, to conduct program reviews, and to attract students to their programs.
 
The Department or Division Budget
The department or division operating budget is often viewed as a set of line item allocations that exists in a vacuum. Chairs will learn how their unit budgets fit into the larger institutional picture, how to make an effective case for additional funding for the department or division, how to support colleague chairs in the budget process, and how to prepare requests for additional funding in cases where more than one department or division is involved.