Department Chairs have been given the charge to carry out a collection of responsibilities regarding the function and operation of the department.  Mission, goals, objectives, etc. are ideas that should be developed collectively and reflect a department consensus.  A Chair who can meet this responsibility will be a highly successful Chair.

Department Meetings

Department meetings need to have a purpose; publish an agenda in advance of the meeting.  The discussions will be more informed if the department members know what the topics will be prior to the meeting.  Respect your department members' time.  Avoid scheduling meetings that don't have a clear purpose or contain material that could just as easily be disseminated through an email.


Be forthcoming with your department members and share as much information with them as possible.  Some won't care, but others will interpret little or no information as something negative.  There will be less trust if they sense a Chair is withholding information that relates to the decision-making process.

Contingent Faculty

Keep adjuncts informed.  See that they are informed of departmental activities; invite them to appropriate department meetings. Remind departmental members to treat adjuncts like the valued instructors they are.

New Faculty

Stay in close contact with new faculty.  These are very anxious times for these new instructors and they need for Chairs to be in frequent communication with them.  They mostly want meaningful feedback and answers to their questions.   Encourage them to attend all orientation activities and utilize all resources available to them (see “Faculty Development).

Maintenance of Morale and Discipline

As stated in Policy 111.2, “Role of the Academic Department Chair,” the Chair is responsible

  • for providing the departmental faculty with relevant information concerning university-wide policies,
  • for maintaining appropriate levels of faculty morale,
  • for maintaining records adequate to the department’s needs on all faculty,
  • for providing an opportunity within the department for faculty and staff to resolve difficulties with other faculty and staff members
  • for maintaining departmental records to pass on to successor Chairs, so as to preserve departmental history.
Reference Books for Academic Department Chairs

(Located in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty)

Buller, Jeffrey L.  The Essential Department Chair:  A Practical Guide to College Administration.  Bolton, MA:  Anker Publishing Company, 2006.

Chu, Don.  The Department Chair Primer:  Leading and Managing Academic Departments.  Bolton, MA:  Anker Publishing Company, 2006.

Higgerson, Mary Lou and Teddi A. Joyce.  Effective leadership Communication:  A Guide for Department Chairs and Deans for Managing Difficult Situation and People.  Bolton, MA:  Anker Publishing Company, 2007.

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