Department Chairs and Program Directors Resources


Chairs and Program Directors Responsibilities


The role of a Department Chair is an important one. You are charged with having the “big picture” and helping shape the evolution of the department. You articulate the relationship between the department and the college at the same time as you deal with the day-to-day running of the department. You are a manager, a colleague, a disciplinarian, an advisor, an accountant, a Human Resource person, a curricular overseer, a policymaker, a mentor, and a teacher. Those are a lot of hats to wear!


Some of the more gratifying duties are working with new faculty during their pre-tenure years and the cultivation of the careers of your tenured faculty. You also can shape the department to come through the strategic requests for hires. You are the person who has the well-being of the department at the forefront of all that you do and weighs the needs of individual faculty against the good of the whole department.


It is the chair who helps establish, nourish, and police a culture of civility among faculty, staff, and students. You create and encourage a team spirit and show how each person is valued and contributes to the well-being of the department. Some of these relationships between faculty will prove challenging and you will have to step in to help mediate. This is where having department faculty and staff agrees on departmental expectations with respect to conduct is vital. If your department has not established them, then you know what you have to do!


You look to the future and encourage your faculty and staff to think ahead and establish goals and periodically assess whether those goals are being met. Five-year plans, Threat Assessments, and Opportunities are all things to discuss with your faculty and ask for their input. Together you will craft a plan and shape the department to come.


You are the face of your department to the college and the dean. You will be on the front line requesting hires and other resources. You will have to use all of your powers of persuasion along with data skills to support your requests time and time again.


To survive, you will have to learn how to delegate to others to manage all the requests and work that befalls a chair. You will need to encourage faculty to actively participate in the running of the department and faculty governance. Encourage faculty to understand that they are stakeholders in the departmental enterprise. You will be a role model for your faculty.


You will be stymied on occasion and have to reach out to former chairs, current chair colleagues, and others. You will find them generous and helpful. Do not neglect their collective experiences as a resource. It is invaluable. You will need support.


We have made Best Practices from various sources available for you along with information that you will need to figure out accounts, budgeting, etc.