Department Chairs Roundtable

This event is all day Wednesday, and precludes taking part in any Wednesday morning/afternoon workshops. Limit 40 participants, participation cost is $125.

Organizers: Dr. Mary Lou Maher, UNC Charlotte and Dr. Ran Libeskind-Hadas, Harvey Mudd College

What are the challenges that Department Chairs face? What are the features of a great Department Chair? What are the issues in having a poor Department Chair? How can Department Chairs be prepared and prioritize their time and focus on innovation?

If you are a new Chair, an experienced Chair, thinking about becoming a Chair, or if you have stories to tell about awesome or terrible Department Chairs, then you should participate in this roundtable. The discussions and insights from this Roundtable should improve the quality of the Department Chair experience: whether you are a Chair or not, this session will be helpful in navigating your academic career.

The SIGCSE Department Chairs Roundtable will feature small group discussions on challenges of being a Department Chair and finish with a panel of diverse and experienced Department Chairs. The group discussions will tackle topics such as the significant administrative and personnel issues that chairs must handle; leadership and management styles, time management, legal issues, establishing priorities, and communication.

The final hour of the Roundtable will have a special focus on how to encourage the adoption of innovative teaching practices. Changes in attitudes toward teaching and learning are intertwined with the availability of new technologies that challenge faculty to change the way they teach. How can the Department Chair provide an organizational climate that encourages and rewards innovation in CS education?

Many people don’t appreciate the many duties and roles that it part of the Department Chair experience. Here is a summary of the most common expectations from a Department Chair:

  • Leader: visionary, internal advocate, internal intermediary, external liaison, curriculum leader, role model. The Chair should be a transformational leader capable of creating space for change and generating consensus among the faculty.

  • Administrator: fiscal overseer, schedule coordinator, report, generator, staff supervisor. The Chair monitors the department budget to ensure that the department’s work is done and that allocations are not overspent. This role increasingly requires the Chair to find creative ways to extend the budgets, including external fund raising.

  • Personal facilitator: counselor, coach, mediator, climate regulator. The Chair needs to be accessible, establish relationships, and be willing to listen to concerns to create an environment that will encourage faculty productivity and harmony.

  • Resource developer: faculty recruiter, faculty mentor, faculty evaluator, resource provider. The Chair hires new department faculty, provides faculty with professional development opportunities and mentoring to ensure their professional success and retention; provides evaluations for annual merit raises, retention, promotion, and tenure decisions; and finds resources that faculty need to do their jobs.

Plan to attend this SIGCSE event and contribute to the discussion and improvement of leadership in Computer Science education.