Handbook for Department Chairs


The ideal chairperson of a department/program:

  • keeps a yearly calendar, with a schedule of common deadlines and a timetable for decision-making; thinks about scheduling and staffing issues well before final decisions need to be made (knows things tend to sneak up on one and that it helps to plan ahead)
  • sets specific times each week to tackle "chair" responsibilities; knows what kind of decisions require department-wide attention, which do not
  • makes honest evaluation of "to-do" lists, and is realistic about how dire the consequences would be if something did not get done on time
  • has specific priorities to accomplish during his/her tenure, and keeps the focus on them in the process of planning and decision-making
  • has only a reasonable number of formal meetings, with a pre-announced agenda and time limit, as well as a routine mechanism for following up on decisions-made, tasks yet-to-complete, etc.