For New Chairpersons

The position of department chair is one of the most important administrative posts in the University. The chairperson is the contact point for both faculty and administration and serves as the bridge between the two. The chairperson is responsible for seeing that the vision and mission of the University and department become a reality.

The best chairpersons are enthusiastic about, and supportive of, their department’s mission and values. They have high and clear expectations of colleagues and help them to reach their greatest potential. They listen to and nurture the good ideas of faculty members, staff, and students. They are generous in thanking others, even for their daily contributions, and they take genuine joy in the success of others. They are ambitious and creative on behalf of the department, seeking a whole that is greater than its many parts. They are fair, diplomatic, and consistent toward every member of the department. Chairpersons must take a holistic interest in all three areas of the profession (scholarship, teaching, and service), and they must cultivate a climate that embraces common goals and a collective identity even as different perspectives are consistently weighed.

Disciplinary organizations, such as the Modern Language Association, sponsor workshops for new and experienced chairpersons. The Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences and the American Council of Education offer general workshops for chairpersons. Either the Office of the Provost or the College will cover the costs of such a workshop for any chairpersons who attend. Please contact the Dean or your divisional Associate Dean if you are interested in attending. If you would like to visit another campus to meet with administrators and teacher-scholars of departments that have impressed you with their innovations and strategies for excellence, funding should be available, although we may ask your department to share some of the costs. Please send your proposals directly to the Dean or your divisional Associate Dean.