ERIC Number: ED311843
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
About Department Chairs.
Bennett, John B.
AAHE Bulletin, v42 n2 p9-11 Oct 1989
Department chairs occupy what is arguably one of the most important administrative spots in a higher education institution. As a group, they set the academic tone of the institution and greatly facilitate or hinder the accomplishment of its mission. The various types of department chairs are described: hopeful, survivors, transient, and adversarial. The hopeful ones are eager to learn and share, recognizing they can make a difference. They are less embarrassed about having been selected chair and do not seem to need to participate in the circumlocutions of the reigning mythology regarding academic leadership. The survivors are more likely to have been selected by administrators and to belong to large, stable departments. They can provide organizational continuity and perspective, though some need to be replaced because they have become simple caretakers. The transient chairs seem most prevalent in institutions or departments where by tradition the position rotates and elections are friendly and uncontested. These positions invite quick turnover and provide little nourishment for either chair or department. The adversarial chairs are a steady and consistent element of negativity, often emerging from an unhappy and contentious faculty. They are angry and explosive individuals who view policy changes or resource limitations as unreasonable decisions aimed directly at them. There do not seem to be many truly adversarial chairs. All institutions need to pay attention to the circumstances and needs of their chairs since the position of chair is where things get done. (SM)
Descriptors: Administrator Qualifications, Administrator Role, College Administration, Department Heads, Higher Education, Leadership Qualities, Personality, Power Structure
American Association for Higher Education, One Dupont Circle, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036 ($3.50 per back issue).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Association for Higher Education, Washington, DC.