Resources and References for Chair and Program Director Development

Check out these resources and references


Bensington, E., Ward, K. & Sanders, K. (2000). The Department Chair’s Role in Developing New Faculty into Teachers and Scholars. Williston, VT: Anker Publishing Co. $32.95.

This is an excellent book and provides helpful suggestions, along with numerous checklists, to develop new faculty members into effective teachers, productive scholars, and active contributors to campus governance and other activities.

Chu, D. (2006).  The Department Chair Primer: Leading and Managing Academic Departments. Williston, VT: Anker Publishing Co. $19.95.

This book is available for all chairs and program directors at Saint Mary’s College. Contact the Faculty Development Office for  a copy.

Higgerson, M. (1996). Communication Skills for Chairs. Williston, VT: Anker Publishing Co. $39.95.

Each chapter in this book first describes communication strategies that are useful in handling an administrative task and then uses real-life case studies to demonstrate their application in typical situations, offering prescriptive guidelines for immediate

Learning, D. (1998). Academic Leadership. Williston, VT: Anker Publishing Co. $39.95.
Based on his 20 years of experience as a department chair, the author offers a comprehensive and uniformly practical resource for effectively managing an academic department. It is filled with helpful summaries, checklists, tables, and sample forms. Invaluable for new chairpersons, and a handy resource for experienced chairpersons as well, all will find this a friendly mentor, always there for consultation, advice, and suggestions.
Lees, D. (2006). Chairing Academic Departments: Traditional and Emerging Expectations. Williston, VT: Anker Publishing Co. $39.95
Much of the old work and traditional responsibilities remain for the 21st-century chair, but they are now accompanied by emerging challenges requiring new skills. This book provides new, existing, and potential department chairs with some historical perspectives and practical suggestions as they face a higher education enterprise that is undergoing significant changes from past practice.


Newsletters/Online Resources

The Department Chair: A Resource for Academic Administrators. Published by Anker Publishing.. ISBN/Prod. Id. EDCSUB. $99 for electronic subscription (in PDF format).

Department Chair Online Resource Center sponsored by the American Council on Education. The resource center houses articles, practical suggestions, bibliographies, and links to other sites on the following topics:

The Chair as Leader
The Chair and Faculty
Resource Management
Legal Issues
What’s New?


The American Council on Education provides workshops on the following topics for academic chairs and program directors during the 2006-07 year:

Budgeting in the New Millennium
As a department chair, you have responsibility for garnering human, financial, and physical resources to support your department’s vision and mission. This session will focus on understanding the fiscal context within which you operate and using that knowledge to develop and implement a fiscal strategy. This topic will be offered in February.

Communication and Department Chairs
Your success as a department chair depends largely on your ability to communicate, not only with your faculty but with the deans and vice presidents as well; not only in group meetings, but in one-on-one sessions. This session will focus on the skills needed for effective communication with all constituents, in all contexts.  This topic will be offered in June.

Conflict Management
Even experienced chairs lament the problems and discomfort associated with managing conflict. This session helps participants recognize the nature and causes of conflict; identify interpersonal conflict skills; explore response options; and experiment with the art of strategic resolution. This topic will be offered in February, and November.

Decision-Making Strategies
Harry Truman once said, "The buck stops here!" All too quickly, department chairs find out that no matter how collaborative a process may have been, final decisions often lie on their desks. This session explores decision-making strategies, gauging the implications of decisions and the types of data a chair may use to come to a determination.   This topic will be offered in February.

Evaluating College Teaching
Virtually every college and university evaluates teaching performance. Some do it effectively, while others do not. This interactive session focuses on student ratings of instruction and the teaching portfolio. It examines important new lessons about what works and what doesn’t, key strategies, tough decisions, and the latest research results. This topic will be offered in FebruaryJune, and November.

Leadership and Team Building
This session invites participants to reflect on their leadership roles and explore key elements of teamwork. This topic will be offered in February and June.

Legal Issues for Chairs
If good fences make good neighbors, your institution’s lawyer can help keep your fences in good order. This session focuses on the legal questions that most concern chairs: How do I remain immune from lawsuits? Where is the line between a professor's free speech rights and unprotected griping? What is due process? How can I legally terminate an employee? When are recommendations confidential and when are they not? We will use interactive and participatory methods to look at current court cases and legal trends. This topic will be offered in November.

Navigating the Whitewaters of Departmental Change
There’s lots of talk about needing “campus-wide,” “systemic,” and “transformative” change, but little evidence of what works to enable change in colleges and universities. In this session we’ll consider principles for institutional transformation and practical strategies that will facilitate chairs in their roles as change agents—those determined to initiate, manage, and implement systemic change. This topic will be offered in November.

Shaping Mission and Leading Change
Chairs frequently find themselves playing the part of change agent. This essential role becomes more manageable once chairs become familiar with strategies for building consensus around a common mission and for successfully leading change. This session suggests some of those strategies, and offers opportunity for practice.  This topic will be offered in June.

Strategic Thinking
Crisis management is all too often the modus operandi in higher education including for department chairs. The result is the reflexive "quick fix," a solution too often tainted by bias and emotion. The goal of this session is to introduce chairs to Œstrategic thinking as a means of organizing their thoughts when faced with complex decision-making. Strategic thinking creates a process that assists in the identification and understanding of the key factors of an issue, which can lead to effective actions and successful outcomes. This topic will be offered in June.

Working with the Dean
The working relationship between academic chairperson and dean is sometimes described as the "essential partnership" because the success of each depends upon how the two carry out their different, but interdependent role responsibilities. Chairpersons have considerable control in establishing their credibility with the dean and in shaping the way in which the dean works with them. This session will focus on practical leadership communication strategies that enable chairpersons to cultivate a productive working relationship with the dean. Participants will have ample opportunity to practice the leadership communication strategies being presented. This topic will be offered in November.

The fee per session for ACE member institutions is $825 for the first registrant and $800 for subsequent registrants.

Human Resource Department Assistance

In addition to receiving advice and counsel from the Department of Human Resources about recruitment and hiring, terminations, performance evaluations, sexual harassment, and the like, chairs and managers can receive up to eight coaching sessions from the College’s Employee Assistance Program. See the handout on the next page explaining these services.