At Hendrix, the role of
department chair changes on a routine basis between faculty members (typically
chairs have a maximum of two consecutive terms of three years each). In order
to maintain continuity and to facilitate a smooth transition to the new
incoming chair, the outgoing chair should strive to develop an organizational
file system early in their term that can serve as a library of
examples/reference for the new incoming chair. In addition to physical files
(digital and/or paper), new chairs also would likely benefit from mentoring
sessions with the previous chair (either formally on a bi-weekly/ monthly basis
during the first few semesters or informally as the need arises).
early, organize often. As
you assume the role of chair, make a regular practice of keeping copies of
memos, reports, department meeting minutes, emails, budgets, curriculum
changes, etc. (basically any paperwork/files related to your role as chair.
These materials not only serve as a record of departmental business, but also
provide examples for future reports, proposals, etc.
a file cabinet space and a computer folder that you can share for chair
you retain all of the materials described above related to your work as chair,
it becomes easy to “drown” in the clutter and the sheer number of items. The
simplest approach to keeping materials associated with your business as chair
organized is to dedicate a file cabinet for paperwork and a folder on your one
drive for digital files. Create labeled (heading & date) sub-folders, so
that you can readily file (and retrieve) the materials quickly and efficiently.
and/or follow-up by email and cc yourself. It is easy to respond orally to questions at meetings
or in the hallway. However, it is important to establish a paper trail that
serves as a record of any important aspects of the conversations (e.g.,
decisions, follow-ups, timelines, etc.). As described above, create a labeled
(heading & date) folder system for emails, so that they can be easily filed
confidential material carefully. Because
the role of department chair changes on a routine basis, some materials (e.g.,
records regarding hiring decisions, minutes from departmental personnel
committees, correspondence regarding disciplinary actions for a departmental
faculty member, etc. ) may be inappropriate for a new chair to see. Such files
should be retained by the chair at that time, and not passed on to a permanent
repository for future chairs.
the new chair
to set up formal mentoring/discussion sessions with the new chair during the
transitional period. For
a few months after the incoming chair has assumed the position, it may be
helpful to organize bi-weekly/monthly mentoring sessions to discuss current
issues and upcoming tasks. These sessions might be timed to occur as the new
chair is preparing to work on a particular task (e.g., setting up the schedule
of classes, writing a major report/proposal, etc.). The idea is to give the new
chair an idea of what you did in that situation and why you did it.
to be available for Q&A sessions on an informal basis. The new chair is going to have questions.
At first, you may think that you still are chair...but the questions will get
fewer and farther between. Your receptiveness to questions will help the new
chair feel comfortable seeking your advice during their first semester or two
when to “let go”. Don’t
be too overbearing or intrusive in the work of your successor.