The multiple demands on a department chair make it necessary to delegate. Although your style and department culture will vary from other chairs and departments, some general strategies for dealing with such demands are listed below. Departments will be stronger if they make a conscious effort to divide up tasks.
Here are some of the tasks or areas that are easiest for the chair to delegate to others or that the GPDs of the graduate programs take care of for their individual programs:
- club advisor
- organizer of social events for majors
- information on internships, careers, and/or graduate school in your discipline
- information about alumni/ae
- information about achievements of current students
- updating the letter for prospective students sent out by the Admission Office
- updating the department webpages
- collecting and analyzing assessment data
- cultivation and stewardship of donors
- supervision of special departmental funds
- some of the tasks involved in a faculty search
- arrangements for guest speakers
When dividing up tasks, play to the experience and strengths of individual faculty members. For example, if a previous chair has a strong relationship with a donor to the department, ask that person to continue stewardship. If one person has strong organizational skills, ask them to take on arrangements for guest speakers.
As chair, you still have the overall responsibility for seeing that all of these tasks get done, which may mean that you have to remember to remind someone else about what s/he has been assigned to do. What if delegating a particular task isn't working, even with reminders and some discussion with the person you've asked to take charge? First, determine what you can accept as “sufficient,” even if you would like to see the task executed perfectly. If that doesn't solve the problem from your perspective, then rotate the task to someone else, and ask the first person what they might prefer to do instead.