Winter 2017 Chairs' Forum Registration CETL has planned three forum dates for chairs and program directors on the following topics. Click on the titles below to register for the sessions that are of interest to you. Forums take place 12-1:30 p.m. Lunch provided. Click here to view the new flyer. Click on the Handbooks and Documents tab for past forum resources.
- The Merit Process: Department Fallout - Monday, March 6
- Role of the Chair: Leadership and Supervision? - Friday, April 7
Mentoring Resources Available The December Chairs' Forum on mentoring included valuable resources on how to mentor faculty. View the resources here: workshop mentoring guide, promotion and review guide and mentoring program info from Sociology et al. Department, and study results on chair training (IHE, 12/1/2016).
Life Course Events: The Chair's RoleJay Meehan | November 22, 2016
Jay Meehan | October 14, 2016
- Who’s next? When you look around your department/program, you can envision some colleagues as possible leaders and others who are definitely not in that category. Individual characteristics such as temperament, evidence of leadership qualities, judgment and professional competence and accomplishment all factor into such assessments. Who can best represent the whole department effectively?
- Is the next leader only your problem? The obvious answer to that is NO—it is a department, program and school/college level problem. But a leader who “cares” tends to take passing the torch more to heart, shouldering more of the burden when it is clearly time for you to let your colleagues, and/or your dean, step up whether they want to or not.
- Look to the Future The first questions you should ask is “where do I plan to focus my professional energy in my chair after-life” and “what can I do now to make that transition easier for me?” Thinking a year ahead (or more) makes a lot of sense. Are you an associate professor looking at promotion to full professor? How have your chair years impacted that goal? Some departments/units explicitly value leadership roles (such as chair/program director); others not so much. Are there ways to find support to offset some of the deficits created by your chair/program director service? For example, one person described how they had not presented at conferences in two years because they felt swamped by their chair duties. Another person eligible for sabbatical decided to defer thinking they would just be the chair/program director in absentia and would not get any research or writing done. (Note: don’t sacrifice conference or sabbatical plans—“#we’ll survive without you”). Planning ahead might include thinking about the October University Research Committee deadline for Summer Fellowships for the first summer you are no longer chair.
- Plan Your Teaching Responsibilities Don’t forget too you will be transitioning to a new teaching load. One full professor ex- chair confessed to me that early in their career they short-changed their teaching for research. They were a good teacher, but upon returning to faculty they set as their professional goal to be a better teacher. They have worked harder and smarter re-designing their classes and assignments and it has been paying off. The challenge of returning to a full load in the classroom should not be underestimated. You should consider scheduling/requesting classes that best suit what you have already taught and perhaps consider (if your department has such an option), a special topics class that coincides with your research or pedagogical interests. Better yet, perhaps your unit should adopt a workload policy that chairs and program directors have a course release built into the first year (or two) after stepping down. It could even be titrated to the number of years served in the chair/program director role. And don’t forget too, I know chairs and program directors have filled less desirable teaching time slots (think 8 AM!), and covered needed classes during their tenure to keep their faculty—and the scheduling gods—happy. It is okay to consider cashing in on some of those sacrifices you made as a leader that are often invisible to many.
Jay Meehan | August 31, 2016
As Summer is winding down and the Fall semester is upon us, Chairs and Program Directors are likely observing and feeling the pace and rhythm in their department and the university changing. Increased email requests from students, last minute course (re)assignments, new faculty coming on board and more, signal "it" is about to begin--the excitement of a new semester. What had been scheduled 12-18 months ago on paper, is now becoming a reality. Your mindset is already on the 17-18 schedule which is due soon! Your faculty personnel review schedules and other department committee assignments important for governance have been set—with the usual "negotiations" and soft/hard persuasion undertaken with your faculty colleagues.
You are likely anticipating the flow of "normal troubles" you will face (e.g., closed classes, low-enrolled classes, student concerns) along-side faculty concerns about their recent merit announcement from UHR, or how the new copier isn't functioning. It is here. A new academic year. The problem is this: you may not feel you have a distinct "time off" between terms because in fact, you don't. Many people around you operate on the assumption that Chairs and Program Directors are there for them on a no-time-out basis. So, this month I want to put forward the idea that you must build in your "time outs" away from your chair and program director role. It is important and necessary to do so for your personal and professional well-being.
Tip 1: Schedule your personal time now and guard it carefully. The calendar is getting filled--the doodle requests, department and college/school activities, weekly/monthly meetings and your own teaching schedule are blocking out your time. And remember, these activities don't account for the 'fire-fighting" you do every day that will really consume your time. The question is: where is your time? Have you built something in for you on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? "Your" time can be dedicated to personal development (e.g., exercise, meditation), or connecting with friends and family where "work stuff" is relegated to the back burner, or better yet, off the stove completely. For example, for this semester, I have already scheduled weekend getaways way with my spouse for each month. I have created weekly slots dedicated to visiting our two grandchildren. Exercise and meditation is "built into" each day working around my teaching schedule. You get the idea.
Your time can be staying home and working on your research or taking time to maintain your connection to your discipline. I tried closing my door at the office—doesn't seem to work. If necessary, find a fellow chair (or former chair) and support each other by forming a research writing support group which sets some goals so you don't become disconnected from or feel out of touch with your professional identity. Have you scheduled a professional conference (or two) this year? Even if you are not presenting your research—attend conferences to stay connected to your professional interests. Remember, you won't (and should not) be chair for the rest of your professional career. And check to see if your discipline has panels or workshops on chairing departments. I know my field does and I found it useful to participate in these events when I first became a chair.
The point is—schedule your time now—and stick to it! I say this from experience as I would more often than not give up my time for others. Don't make that mistake. In the end, you are less effective and you pay the price for not taking care of yourself.
Tip 2: It is okay to say no (politely of course). In the last week I was asked to participate on a university committee. I agreed. Then, I received another email about another committee. I said no, thank you. For some (myself included), saying no is hard. The fact is this. You are a chair or program director because you have earned the professional respect of your colleagues and you have "people skills." Chairs and program directors form a critical part of the formal and informal leadership structure at Oakland and you are constantly being tapped for your advice and time. It makes sense. So, opportunities are always going to come your way. So don't be hesitant or afraid to say no-thank you. Typically these requests present an opportunity for you, as a leader, to have a greater impact on the university community. Choose wisely. How do you do this? Ask yourself how important any initiative is for your department/program and unit and whether you are indeed the "best fit." It is often good to suggest other people who you think could do the job. If you have doubts about it, consult a former chair, a person who has served on that committee to discern the time commitment, your own chair network, or me—your chair fellow. If you accept every request for your leadership skills, you will get burned out quickly.
In short—schedule your time now. Make it your time. And most importantly, enjoy your time!
Jay Meehan | July 6, 2016
My goals for the 2016-17 CETL Chair Fellowship are modest but hopefully will serve those who perform the important role of a department chair or program director. I served as CAS chair for 9½ years during which time my department added two new majors (Social Work & Criminal Justice) and doubled its full-time faculty. During this tenure, I faced a number of challenges and had my fair share of successes and failures that will inform my work as the CETL Chair Fellow. Toward that end, let me highlight my major goals for the year.
Getting to Know You! Funny as that may sound, there are chairs and directors, particularly outside the CAS, who I do not know or know only in passing. I am aware that while every department/program shares similar challenges, each one also has their unique set of issues. My goal is to connect with each of you so I can better understand the issues you face and to ascertain how the CETL can lend best support to your leadership efforts.
Mentoring. I often described being a chair as a “lonely” job. Satisfying competing demands, whether from students, faculty or administration often involves a tightrope balancing act. It was at these times that I sought the counsel and support of other chairs. I am hoping to earn your trust so I can serve as a mentor to you. To me, mentoring can range from being a sympathetic ear or sounding board over a cup of coffee or a brainstorming strategy about a specific problem. I will be reaching out to each of you—chairs and program directors—with the goal of scheduling a one-on-one meeting in addition to the Chair Forum opportunities hosted each semester. I teach Tuesday/Thursday afternoons in Mt. Clemens, but can be available those mornings and most other days for a mentoring session. Please feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call my office x2428 to schedule an appointment or just chat.
Mobilizing Supportive Resources. An important role for the Chair Fellow will be institutionalizing supportive resources for chairs and program directors. I have inherited two efforts begun last year that will continue in 2016-2017: Chair Lunchtime Forums and the Chair’s Handbook.
- Four forums are already planned for the Fall. On Monday, September 19, I will host a New Chairs/Program Directors Forum for incoming chairs and program directors. On Wednesday, October 5, Chairs’ Perspective on Provost’s Evidence of Teaching Initiative: Course Evaluations Revisited will be lead by CETL Director Judy Ableser. On Monday, November 7, Jen Heisler, Chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism will lead a discussion about Academic Work-Life Balance. On Monday, December 5, Kathy Moore and I will lead a discussion on Mentoring Faculty. Each forum will be from noon to 1:30, and lunch will be served.
- The Chair Handbook, which is posted on the CETL website, is an amazing resource! It has tons of information and names of “go-to” people and places. But we have been made aware of gaps, such as some practical guidance about conducting searches and how offers should and should not be negotiated. And I am sure there are more. So this year I will be reviewing that document and soliciting your input about its contents. I also plan to systematically solicit from the Deans their expectations for chairs and program directors as “leaders” in their units.
I am in uncharted territory—this is year one of a new fellowship. I am open to any ideas you have about how CETL can help you be successful in one of the most challenging roles in this university. I am open to your ideas—and more importantly to translating those ideas into resources for you.
FROM THE CHAIRS' RETREAT
Fostering Trans Inclusion in the Classroom, a student perspective from Inside Higher Ed
Guidelines to Chair Selections - This document shows the current policies OU departments use to select a department chair or program director.
CETL Library for Chairs - Nine books on chair topics free to check out. View the book list.
The Department Chair Journal - Each issue includes
- Original articles by experienced academic leaders on a wide range of subjects: evaluation and assessment, fundraising, legal issues, collegiality, work-life balance, reappointment policies, time management, and more
- Useful strategies, practical ideas, and questions for reflection
- Essential data on such topics as salaries, college costs, and technology
- Book reviews of the latest academic leadership titles
- Recent court decisions relevant to the chair role.
- Strategies for Allocating Merit-Based Salary Increases for Faculty (University of Washington)
- Top 10 Tips for Academic Leaders to Accelerate the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- Recruitment and Retention: Guidelines for Chairs (by Virginia Valian, CUNY) (Cornell)
- Recognizing Gender Bias in Letters of Recommendation (Brown)
- Increasing the Retention and Advancement of Women and Minority Scientists: A Guide for Department Chairs (Brown)
- Enhancing Department Climate: A Guide for Department Chairs (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- Enhancing Department Climate: A Chair’s Role (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- Faculty Retreats (University of Washington)
- Successful Strategies to Promote Department Climate (Virginia Tech)
- Your To-Do List as a Chair: Five Core Responsibilities (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Using Data for Academic Planning (downloads as a PowerPoint presentation, University of Washington)
- Online Courses: What Do They Mean For Departments? (University of Washington)
- Departmental Climate Compendium (successful strategies, policies and procedures)
- Climate Consultation
- Work/life Balance Policies
- Human Resources:
- University Organizational and Professional Development (Consulting services)
- Experts in Action (volunteer program for retirees and business professionals)
- Employee Relations
- Work/life Resources
- Equity Initiatives
- Harassment and Discrimination Policies
- Conflict Resolution
- Office for Diversity and Inclusion
- Office of the Provost
- Other Resources
2015-2016 Professional Development Opportunities - Download the full list.
Guide to Selecting Chairs and Program Directors Departments have shared what their protocols are for reviewing and selecting candidates for chairs or program directors at Oakland University. View the guide.
Chairs' and Program Directors' Retreat (11 Aug 2015) Agenda
Every month, Judy Ableser, Director of CETL, sends a Chairs Update via email to keep chairs apprised of programs, services, and other announcements pertaining to their responsibilities.
Faculty Feedback Replaces Mid-Semester Evaluations - Faculty Feedback is a system located in SAIL for communicating with students who show early signs of struggle in their courses. It replaces mid-semester evaluations as it allows faculty to give students feedback earlier than the half-way mark. View the video introduction, and visit oakland.edu/uge/faculty-feedback for further discussion on this university-wide initiative.
Faculty Handbook This is the official OU guide for everything faculty need: registrar information, student support services, faculty support services, and all of the procedures that keep our campus moving. Download the 2016-17 faculty handbook.