ERIC Identifier: ED363165
Publication Date: 1993-10-00
Author: Seagren, Alan T. - And Others
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.| George Washington Univ. Washington DC. School of Education and Human Development.
The Department Chair: New Roles, Responsibilities and Challenges. ERIC Digest.
The academic department is the base unit of universities and colleges, "the central building block...of the American university" (Trow 1977). While departments fragment and divide the faculty of an institution of higher education, they also provide a useful structure for the day-to-day activities that shape faculty members' attitudes, behaviors, and performances.
The metaphor of a block of wood held in a vise for shaping seems appropriate to describe the situation of an academic chair. The chair is squeezed between the demands of upper administration and institutional expectations on the one side and the expectations of faculty, staff, and students on the other, with both attempting to influence and shape the chair. The chair is caught in the middle, required to provide the most sophisticated leadership and statesmanship to avoid being crushed by these two opposing forces.
The purpose of The Department Chair is to glean from the research insights about the chairs or heads of academic departments who are caught in the middle. The literature documents that chairs of academic departments in the 1990s will be expected to perform in an increasingly complex, diverse, and changing environment, with ever-increasing expectations from the institution and the faculty. The following issues are most often raised as needing attention: (1) roles and responsibilities of chairs, (2) the chair as leader, (3) the political influences on the chair and the use of power, (4) the chair's responsibility for evaluation and development of faculty, (5) the influence of institutional type and specific discipline on the chair, and (6) challenges facing chairs in the 1990s and beyond.
WHAT ARE THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF CHAIRS?
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR LEADERSHIP?
HOW CAN THE CHAIR EFFECTIVELY USE POLITICAL INFLUENCE AND POWER?
WHAT IS THE CHAIR'S ROLE IN FACULTY EVALUATION AND DEVELOPMENT?
For a chair to evaluate faculty effectively, the reasons for the evaluation and the techniques to be employed must be clear to the chair, the dean, and the faculty. Procedures to evaluate faculty can provide focus, clarify expectations for work, give direction to faculty members' efforts, and define the need for faculty development. What is to be measured, how it is to be measured, who is to measure, and the indicators of quality must be carefully considered. The chair must provide that leadership in developing and implementing evaluation of the faculty (Braskamp, Brandenburg, and Ory 1984).
A second and equally powerful opportunity to encourage quality is faculty development--the process of assisting faculty to grow professionally by gaining an understanding of institutional expectations, improving performance in teaching or research, creating a positive work environment, refocusing or redirecting activities, and helping faculty resolve and deal with personal issues. Faculty development is a shared responsibility that can be facilitated through a number of activities and strategies, including orientation sessions, mentoring, intervention in teaching and research, providing models of desired behaviors, considering alternative professional career paths, and assisting faculty in using available resources, such as employee assistance programs.
WHAT ARE THE INFLUENCES OF INSTITUTIONAL TYPE AND DISCIPLINE ON THE CHAIR?
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
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