For Department Chairs

Advice for New Chairs from Departmental Coordinators

 Ask for help from your coordinator

Talk to your coordinator early and often to discuss the tasks necessary to the success of your area. Ask them how they prefer to work (meetings by appointment, email, phone, etc.). How much lead time is ideal for larger tasks? Are there tasks they actually prefer to do on their own, which you can then delegate to them? Schedule collaborative work time for projects that you need to do together.

 Consult the Chairs' handbook, webpage, & Registrar's calendar

The Chairs’ Handbook (see above) gathers together key passages from the Faculty Handbook and incorporates other timelines and advice. It may be helpful to make a timeline with your coordinator to add to the dates given by the Registrar; transcribe big dates to your calendar (FDRC letter due dates, R&T letter dates, reminders to observe faculty, annual events in your department, midterm grade due-dates, etc.).

Keep the coordinator in the loop

CC. the coordinator on important emails, and/or have brief “check-in” meetings by phone or in person weekly or as needed. Review the job description of your coordinator so you know what is expected of him or her. This will also help you know which information/deadlines/emails need to be shared. Some things will come directly to you, and only to you, so check the “cc.” and forward, if necessary.

 Stress can make delegation harder
Watch your own stress level, not as something to be afraid of (What have I let myself in for?!), but as information – stress should invite a review of tasks at hand and delegation to coordinator, other faculty, or another office (maybe even the dean’s!). Work ahead of deadlines so you can get the help you need without creating panic for your coordinator/colleagues.

Take advantage of experienced chairs/directors

Consider asking a former chair, even from another department, to serve as an unofficial, confidential sounding board. Or form a “chair’s advisory council” within your department to serve as a consultative or representative group. Some matters will not require full departmental discussion, but an advisory group can help ensure that you’ve looked at an issue from multiple perspectives. If you have any questions about which tasks can be delegated, and which must be done by you as official chair / program director, get in touch with the dean’s office.