Advice for People Who Are Leaders (or Members) of Departments

I became the chair of my department by accident as much as anything. I had been a full time faculty member for a semester and a half, and all of our senior faculty were retiring at the same time, leaving seven people with less than a year as full time faculty. I’d been around as an adjunct the longest, so I was senior, and, well, none of us could think of a better solution.

Over four years of doing it, I learned a lot, and I’ve learned a lot in the two years since, while watching a great colleague do the job.

I know at least one department is holding chair elections for next fall, and there might be others. Regardless, though, I think everyone–chairs and non-chairs would benefit from reading this list of advice published in the Chronicle of Higher Ed last week. One thing I know for sure is that I had ZERO appreciation for what it meant to be a department chair until I was one. I’m not sure I would have had more of an appreciation if I’d read this list, but I hope I would have. I certainly didn’t do all of it while I was chair, but I think I would have been a better chair if I had.