The Department Chair: A Retrospective Perspective

The department chair is a linchpin of a university. It has been estimated that 80 percent of the decisions made in higher education are made at the department level. The chair is a classic hybrid-in-the-middle position; not really an administrator but “more than” a faculty member. The roles and responsibilities of a chair can differ significantly from one university to another. A chair at one institution may develop and monitor a budget, hire and terminate individuals, evaluate faculty members and professional staff, and not teach any courses. Another chair at another university may only teach classes and provide a schedule of classes to be offered. In fact, most universities do not provide a job description for the chair.

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