How To Become a University Department Chair

Loosely defined, a professor is a faculty member of a college or university.  What is the connection between a professor and a university department chair?  Appointment to be a university department chair is a reward and recognition for a university professor who has gained international recognition and has done exemplary work for a particular field of learning.

In some educational institutions it is a title that is considered as the highest rank. For others, it is given as a reward for long tenure. 

There are some criteria that bear significant weight for departmental chair nomination.

1.    Conduct lectures and seminars in their field of study such as science, mathematics, philosophy or the arts outside the university and getting national and international repute from professional and academic groups.

2.    Leading scholars and researchers in their chosen field have gained international recognition, winning peer reviews, commercial success of their published research and new technology applications

3.    Provide consulting and exceptional economic, social and cultural contributions outside the university including the government and non-profit institutions:

  • Teach on-campus or online and substantially contribute to the training of new academics
  • Perform high-level managerial functions within the university
  • Proven track record in fund-raising activities from outside sources

4.    A nomination for appointment for a department chair is made to the Chancellor via the Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs and by the Dean of the department. The nomination includes:

  • The complete Curriculum Vitae of the nominee highlighting the list of their most recent published research, articles, and books. A list of all their published works should also be submitted. 
  • A statement of future directions on research, learning and teaching activities as well as scholarship.
  • When appropriate, letters of support from the Dean and Vice Chancellor-Academic Affairs may also be included.

5.    The Chairs Committee will convene to consider all the appointment nominations they have received and decide whether a nominee satisfies their main criteria. They will also decide on who the external assessors will be. Depending on the educational institution, the assessors can come from different universities.

6.    The Chairs Committee will convene to consider all the appointment nominations they have received and decide whether a nominee satisfies their main criteria. They will also decide on who the external assessors will be. Depending on the educational institution, the assessors can come from different universities.

7.    Voting will be done based on established procedures set by the department.

8.    A department chair is still a part of the department faculty.

Becoming a university department chair comes with a lot more responsibilities than a regular professor. You become responsible for the implementation of your department policies as well as overseeing and reviewing long-term departmental goals, the hiring of faculty and non-academic staff, reviewing and renewing faculty appointments and promotion. It also includes department budget management, overseeing the development of department curriculum, preparing schedules of courses and faculty class assignments and other managerial tasks. You have to be prepared to meet these new challenges and the effects it will have on your relationships with students, staff and colleagues.

You have to keep a good balance and maintain fairness at all times. You will now also be an arbiter among students, your department’s faculty members, the Dean and as well as the university officials. Time management will be an essential factor during your tenure as a university department chair as you juggle your commitments to the academe and your professional/personal goals.

 

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