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The Department Chair Primer: What Chairs Need to Know and Do to Make a Difference, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-07744-3
132 pages
February 2012, Jossey-Bass
The Department Chair Primer: What Chairs Need to Know and Do to Make a Difference, 2nd Edition (111807744X) cover image


If higher education is to fulfill its vital social mission, new department leaders must be prepared for their positions and get up to speed on the basics quickly, educating themselves about the role and continuing to learn on the job.

In this second edition of his classic resource, Don Chu outlines the proven ideas and strategies new department chairs need in order to do their jobs well. Thoroughly revised and updated, The Department Chair Primer contains information that addresses the current pressures and challenges in higher education and offers practical suggestions for responding to them.

Filled with illustrative examples, the book gets straight to the heart of challenges and issues. Each chapter details a particular problem, includes a brief introduction to the topic, and provides tips on how to deal with the situation. Covering a wealth of topics, The Department Chair Primer

  • Explores the chair's role as department leader

  • Offers suggestions for handling stress and conflict

  • Includes information on budgeting, resource management, and development

  • Contains strategies for professional development, people management, and working with challenging personnel

  • Presents ideas for handling department communications, student development, and strategic positioning

Written in a concise and accessible manner, The Department Chair Primer is an ideal resource for the busy new department chair.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the New Edition vii


1 Why Department Chairs Are Important 3

2 The Chair’s Role as Department Leader 9

3 The Chair’s Ecosystem 16

4 Handling Stress and Conflict 26

5 What Kind of Chair Will You Be? 30


6 Before You Begin 37

7 Planning 42

8 Budget, Resource Management, and Development 52

9 Curriculum, Scheduling, and Instruction 67

10 Professional Development, Personnel Management, and Handling Challenging Personnel 76

11 Departmental Communication 85

12 Student Development 92

13 Strategic Positioning 97

14 Understanding Your Institution and Your Role as Department Chair 102

Resources 107

References 109

The Author 111

Index 113

This book is dedicated to those who hold most dear honor, loyalty, service, and integrity: to my parents, who taught me these principles; to my children, who carry forward these virtues; and to my wife, Janine, whose love reminds me why they are so important.

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Author Information

Don Chu is dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Services at California State University, San Marcos. He is the founder of Academic Leadership Consulting and was formerly dean at the University of West Florida.

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