Office for Faculty Development

Strategic Leader of the Department

The department chairperson is recommended by the department faculty and appointed by the Dean, in consultation with the Provost. That your departmental colleagues have recommended that you be their chair is evidence of the respect with which they view you. They trust you to help them to envision the department’s future, facilitate their individual professional aspirations, and cultivate and sustain a vibrant and supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff. The Dean and Provost share their confidence in you.  

There is a lot to balance as chair: the variety of day-to-day and recurring tasks with the large vision, and also the various and numerous tasks of being chair with your continuing development as teacher and scholar. In addition to managing faculty relationships, you also have supervisory responsibilities over departmental staff, and, you are responsible for departmental facilities including labs or art studios and ensuring that the facilities are in smooth operating conditions.

UMass Boston Resources for Department Chairs

  • Your college Dean should be the first person you contact for advice if there is a particularly problematic situation in your department that you are not able to resolve yourself.
  • UMass Boston’s Office for Faculty Development (OFD) organizes an annual department chair retreat, typically at the end of the Spring semester, on what it means to be a departmental leader within the UMass Boston community. At this retreat, you may seek the advice of other chairs in the university about challenges you’ve encountered or expect to encounter.  The retreat is also your opportunity to establish small support groups of chairs with similar departmental profiles and to agree to meet on a regular basis throughout the academic year. 
  • OFD also holds workshops to focus on specific aspects of the chair’s responsibilities – the budget or faculty mentoring, for example.  

Additional Resources

  • Academic Leadership: A Practical Guide to Chairing the Department (Jossey-Bass)  Deryl R. Learning (Anker Publishing Company, Inc.; 2nd edition (November 1, 2006)
  • The Academic Chair's Handbook , Daniel W. Wheeler, Alan T. Seagren , Linda Wysong Becker, Edward R. Kinley, Dara D. Mlinek, Kenneth J. Robson (Jossey-Bass, 2008).
  • Consult your discipline’s national and/or accreditation organizations as they might have materials regarding leadership, faculty roles or higher education.