New Department Chair – You’ve Got the Stuff!

A quick Google search and I found many hits for department chair. Most of these “hits” were job descriptions from a number of colleges and universities. Most start job descriptions include the statement. “The position of Chair is important and one of the most difficult in any college environment.” If you are a Department Chair this is no surprise.

Some chairs are elected and others appointed and the job comes with built in term limits. What is certain is that many are unprepared for the move from greatest educator in the classroom to the new role of go between.

Reading some of the job descriptions is like reading the script for a CBS show titled CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  Only a forensic sleuth could wind their way through these job descriptions and know how it happened and who did it before big reveal.

The Chair position is one of great importance and sounds impressive to the lay person. To the Chair, it is a personal journey of participation and excitement as well as the opportunity to develop leadership skills. Neither faculty nor management, the department chairs that I have known usually share the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Our new Show DCI: Department Chair Institute

Solving the impossible

Scene of the Crime

Our gullible and innocent faculty member is either selected or elected to the position of Department Chair. The DC is an honor as the faculty member is recognized and respected by their peers and the college leadership.  This is a spring rite of passage for the new chair. They are welcomed into the new position. Their friends and family are so excited that they have been recognized for their hard work. It is a glorious time of excitement for the New Year. As graduation fades and the faculty begin their summer journey, the new chair realizes that summer for them is no longer a time of renewal, of travel, no opportunity to learn, to research or to write. This is the time for scheduling classes, hiring faculty, and there is usually a budget to begin to understand and maybe, just maybe program review or accreditation responsibilities.

The Investigation Begins

From an actual job description found on the web “The Dean ….will listen sympathetically to suggestions about such [training] opportunities. This is a major shift in the drama. The new chair isn’t automatically provided training to do their job? How, What and Who?

From the start, this DC will identify the evidence at the scene of the crime (no budget), hit the high tech lab (also known as business services) and apply the most scientific techniques used today by DC’s to crack this case also known as building a team.  This is definitely for someone who likes to learn on the job.

  • Communication
  • Motivation
  • Hiring Faculty
  • Managing Time

The Finale

I will admit that I have never been a chair but I have worked with Department Chairs for nearly 30 years. My knowledge comes from these department chairs as well as those who have attended the Department Chair Institute. All good employees who wanted to do a service for the college.

Kathy Becker

About Kathy Becker

Kathy is the CEO/President of the Company of Experts, Inc. and oversees this Small Woman Owned Business serving schools, colleges and universities, businesses, corporations and non-profits moving them from deficit models of planning and thinking to engagement, empowerment and collaboration.

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