Some Tips on Being a Good Department Chair


Seth Masket chairs the Department of Political Science at the University of Denver.  If you are a department chair (or aspire to be one) at a college or university you should read his piece “How To Chair A University Department And Not Be Terrible At It.”

In August I will enter my sixteenth year of teaching history at Messiah College.  Half of those years have been spent as a department chair.  After the 2017-2018 academic year I will leave my post and return to life as a normal faculty member.  My hope is to never return to this post again.

I have never thought of myself as a very good department chair.  I mess things up a lot.  I am not very good at scheduling courses, assessing student learning, or getting paperwork done on time.  Frankly, I am surprised I have lasted this long in the position.

But I can affirm that everything Masket says in this piece is correct.  If you want to be a good department chair:

  1.  Don’t blow off the teaching schedule
  2.  Make agenda control your friend
  3.  Fight, if necessary
  4.  Recognize that you can’t please everyone
  5.  Create social capital
  6.  Set realistic goals for yourself

See how Masket develops these six points here.