Department Chair Resources

This section of the CTLS website is to provide information and resources to Samford University department heads and chairs. Along with the information below, there are several conferences held annually to address department chairs needs and concerns. For example, the 25th Annual Chairpersons Conference is set for February 6 - 8, 2008 in Orlando, Florida.

Characteristics of a Quality Academic Department

Based on review of literatures and research by Haworth and Conrad (1997), Massey (2001), Walvoord et al (2000), Wergin (2003), the characteristics of a quality academic department are:

  • A diverse and supportive academic community
    • A high value on professional autonomy
    • Faculty and students from diverse backgrounds and with diverse perspectives
    • A respect for diversity of opinion and creative tension
    • Flexibility to change
  • A culture of collective responsibility
    • Shared mission and vision
    • Department's focus is balanced among students, community, institution, and discipline
    • Individuals' commitment to the group's well-being
    • Significant student engagement with faculty and peers
  • A commitment to excellence in teaching, student learning, and scholarship
    • Best possible students consistent with institutional mission
    • Active learning
    • Connected program requirements and coherent curricula
    • Active scholarship by students and faculty
  • A culture of critical reflection
    • Emphasis on individual and collective self-reflection
    • Continuous evaluation of programs and judicious use of assessment data
    • Emphasis on both individual and group learning
  • Visionary leadership from faculty and department chair
    • Openness, collaboration, and joint decision-making
    • Systems thinking
    • Visionary thinking
  • Adequate resources for students and faculty
    • Requisite supplies, equipment, facilities
    • Library and computing resources

Faculty Motivation

To achieve quality work within an academic department, it is important to understand that quality originates with faculty vitality (Wergin, 2003). Vital faculty exhibit enthusiasm, curiosity, and adaptability (Baldwin & Krotseng, 1985). In his article "Beyond Carrots and sticks: What really motivates faculty," Wergin (2001), outline the four key factors contributing to faculty motivation:

  • Autonomy the reason most often cited. Professional autonomy involves the relative liberty to experiment, choose one's own path, and proceed without trepidation. This autonomy is guided by the 1940 Association of Academic University Professors (AAUP) Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure which state: "Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest either of the individual teacher or the institution as a whole."
  • Community next factor most cited. Faculty desire to be a part of the larger scholarly community. This factor can come into conflict with that of autonomy given the climate often associated with promotion and tenure.
  • Recognition We all desire to be valued. Although salary tends to be one perceived form of value, other forms can be equally rewarding. Receiving compliments from students, peers and supervisors, or being asked to share one's expertise at a conference are two such examples.
  • Efficacy this is the "making a difference" factor. Faculty want to feel that their work, their teaching has meaning and is effective. Conditions that can facilitate promoting quality faculty work include aligning the institutional mission, roles, and rewards; engaging faculty; identifying dilemmas; helping faculty find their place within the institution; and encouraging faculty creativity, evaluation, and reflection.

The Chair as Leader

Prior to or in sustaining one's position as a department chair, it is helpful to review the various challenges of the position. Information pertaining to skills, transitioning, time management, faculty and chair evaluation are particularly referenced.

  • Achterberg, C. (August 2004). Look before you leap: Transitions from faculty to administration.
  • Benoit, P. & Graham, S. (2005). The secrets of successful chairs. ACE Department Chair Online Resource Center.
  • Crandell, G. (Winter, 2005). Time management for more effective results. The Department Chair 15 (3).
  • Downey, R. G. & Cox, K. S. (Fall 2002). Developing an organizational culture and infrastructure for administrative evaluation and feedback. The Department Chair 15.
  • Franklin, K. K. (Winter, 2001). The 'Mikey' Phenomenon: Reflections of a First Year Chair. The Department Chair 11 (3).
  • Gmelch, W. H. (1993). Understanding the challenges of department chairs. Leadership skills for department chairs. Bolton: Anker.
  • Gmelch, W. H. (1993). Leadership self-assessment. Leadership skills for department chairs. Bolton: Anker
  • Graham, S. & Benoit, P. (2004). Constructing the role of department chair. ACE Department Chair Online Resource Center.
  • Hecht, I. W. D. (2002). Appointment and compensation: A theme with variations. ACE Department Chair Online Resource Center.
  • Hecht, I. W. D. (1999). Roles and responsibilities of department chairs. The Department Chair as Academic Leader. Phoenix: ACE/Oryx Press.
  • Kansas State University (2004). IDEA feedback for department chairs.
  • McCauley, C. D. & Van Velsor, E. (2004). The center for creative leadership handbook on leadership development (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (Book in CTLS)
  • Wergin, J. L. (Spring 2004). Leadership in place. The Department Chair 14 (4).
  • Wergin, J. F. (2003). Departments that work. Building and sustaining cultures of excellence in academic programs. Bolton: Anker. (Book in CTLS)

Resource Management

Included in the various duties of the department chair are those of budgeting, development, and strategic planning. Resources available on these topics are listed below.

  • Boudreaux, J., Exline, J., Forster, M. & Sims, P. (Fall 2003). Strategies for tough times: Planning, acquiring resources, reorganizing, and maintaining morale. The Department Chair 14, (2).
  • Brum, G. D. (Winter 2003). The emerging role of the department chair in development: Creating a development plan. The Department Chair 13, (3).
  • Denny, C. (2003). Tips for managing the department budget. ACE Department Chair Online Resource Center.
  • Enneking, E. A. (2003). Preparing the department budget. ACE Department Chair Online Resource Center.
  • Fant, G. C. Jr. & Stump, M. L. (Winter 2003). An introduction to budgetary oversight for new department chairs. The Department Chair 14, (3).
  • Marking, K. (May 24, 2005). The mysteries of grant budgeting. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  • Marquis, L. M. (Spring 2003). Balancing the budget: Individual faculty development accounts. The Department Chair 13, (4).
  • Morley, J. & Eadie, D. (2001). Leading change. The Extraordinary Higher Education Leader. Washington, DC: National Association of College and University Business Officers.
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