faculty members consider being a department chair, they may focus primarily on
activities involved in conducting/managing the daily operational business of
the department. While these activities are an integral aspect of the position,
department chairs also have the opportunity to help lead the department to
improve in areas that better facilitate student learning, that promote a better
work environment for department faculty and staff, and that better support the
College’s mission and strategic plan. These opportunities not only make the
college better, but help the chair grow and develop individually as well.
Value to the chair
a broader perspective of both the department and the university. As chair, you gain a great deal of
insight into how both the department and university at large operate and
interact. This experience provides a perspective that makes you a more
knowledgeable (and better) departmental and university colleague, especially
with regard to department and university priorities.
familiar with faculty and staff in departments and offices across the
chair allows you to develop personal working relationships with faculty and
staff in other departments and offices. While these interactions certainly can
happen without being chair, they are particularly effective when developed as a
chair working with these various groups in the context of supporting the
university mission/strategic plan/initiatives. Not surprisingly, you also
develop better interpersonal skills after working with such a diverse group of
personal accomplishment. There is something inherently satisfying and rewarding when you are
able to make positive improvements to the department and/or university as a
chair (no matter the scope or scale of the accomplishment).
a new calling. Some
chairs discover that they have the skill set that works well in administration
and decide that this is the next step in their academic journey.
Value to the institution
the student experience. As
chair, you have numerous opportunities to promote enhanced student
learning/engagement (e.g., helping the department provide more student research
opportunities, mentoring faculty to develop more student-centered courses,
advising student clubs for the major, etc.).
curriculum to address department needs. The chair can help guide modifications to the
departmental curriculum that promote enhanced student learning/engagement, that
address changes happening within the discipline (and higher education in
general), and/or that support university initiatives.
as mentor to departmental colleagues (faculty and staff). Being chair provides opportunities
for you to work with department colleagues on a wide range of subjects
(including day-to-day activities and wider university initiatives/topics in
higher education). This mentoring/collaborative learning helps continue
faculty/staff development for colleagues through all stages of their careers.
- Serve as a department liaison. The chair often acts as the point
person for the department (including interactions with the administration,
other departments, alumni, parents, prospective students, general public,
etc.); an essential role which provides a single source of contact for groups
outside the department.