Leading and Influencing as a Department Chair

Leading and Influencing as a Department Chair


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Join a cohort of fellow chairs to participate in this practical leadership training.

Gain the skills you need to lead the strategic vision of your academic department as well as lead and inspire your faculty colleagues. During this practically-focused training, you will learn tools and tactics to help you be successful in both duties as a department chair, including:

  • Handling the most difficult complaints that you face
  • Developing a vision and setting goals within your academic department
  • Motivating and mentoring your faculty
  • Setting performance expectations for faculty
  • Dealing with difficult faculty colleagues
  • Managing crises that occur on your watch

Learn from Experts with Over Fifty Years of Experience

This interactive conference walks through a number of scenarios drawn from actual events that our facilitators have faced. By the end of this event, you will have the skills and knowledge you need to confidently navigate challenges that you are likely to encounter.

“Lots of good, solid, and accurate information presented by facilitators who are experts in their fields and seemed genuinely interested in guiding and empowering the attendees.”

- Rosita Sands, Chair, Columbia College Chicago

Pre-Conference Workshop: Understanding the Department Chair’s Many Balancing Acts

Every department chair has many roles and responsibilities. To be effective, you must tailor your approach to the many problems, tasks, and issues that you face. This workshop will help you identify your most comfortable leadership tendencies and grow to embrace multiple leadership modes and skills.

Post-Conference Workshop: Conflict Resolution: Tools and Best Practices for Academic Leaders

Effective leaders are expected address, manage, and resolve conflict in the areas they oversee. Join us for an interactive session, facilitated by Kathleen Rinehart, and learn the models and tools available to you to manage conflict both in its earliest stages and those that have simmered over time. This workshop will give you the opportunity to apply these practical and accessible tools in realistic scenarios.

Who Will Benefit

This leadership institute is designed with particular attention to those who are looking to develop the expertise to become an exceptional department leader. The depth and breadth of this program is also suitable for those who are contemplating making a move from department chair to a higher administrative position, including program directors, division chiefs, center directors, etc.

If you have questions about this program’s fit for you, please reach out to the program manager, Ashley Brand at ashley.brand@academicimpressions.com.

Bring Your Team and Save!

Save over 15% registration when you register three or more colleagues.

  • 1 - 2 registrations: full price
  • 3 - 4 registrations: 15% off each
  • 5 - 7 registrations: 20% off each
  • 8+ registrations: 25% off each

"This information will help me improve both the culture and performance of the department."

Read what past attendees have said about this event.

"This event helped me engage in self-reflection about my leadership and create action for future development."

"An insightful and effective conference that was well above my expectations."

"I learned new strategies and gained new insights into being a department chair."


Day 1: Monday, February 18, 2019


Pre-Conference Workshop
Understanding the Department Chair's Many Balancing Acts

8:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Your registration for the pre-conference workshop includes the session below and materials, and breakfast and lunch on Monday.


Embrace your role as a leader! This workshop delves into what it means to be a leader and aims to explore a series of questions that a department chair must answer for themselves, including:

  • Am I a boss or a colleague?
  • Am I faculty or administration?
  • Do I focus on the day-to-day or the long-term?
  • Which decisions are mine and which should go to a department vote?
  • Should I have an “open door” or “by appointment” policy?
  • Where does work end and my life begin?
  • How do I balance the daily tasks with strategic and visionary planning?
  • Where do I focus my attention: The “squeaky wheels” or the “silent types”?

The reality is that a successful chair must tailor his or her approach to the many problems, tasks, and issues at hand. The workshop helps you to identify your most comfortable leadership tendencies and then to grow that comfort zone to embrace multiple leadership modes and skills. You will leave with a series of action items aimed at customizing your approach to your unique set of opportunities and challenges.



Main Conference
Leading and Influencing as a Department Chair

12:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Your registration for the main conference includes access to the sessions below and materials, access to the networking reception on Monday, breakfast and lunch on Tuesday, and breakfast on Wednesday, as well as refreshments and snacks throughout the conference.

Registration, Welcome, and Introductions


Vision and Goal-Setting in the Academic Department

One of the skills essential to departmental leadership is the ability to work with others—both inside and outside of the department—to create a vision for the future and to energize others to focus their efforts to make that vision a reality. The key to success will be your ability to simultaneously manage up and manage down, ensuring that the department’s vision aligns with the dean’s vision for the college and with the overall strategic direction of the university. In this session, we will discuss creating a shared vision for the future, goal-setting at the department level, and aligning the department’s vision with other institutional priorities. We will review different types of department meetings and how to ensure that you are maximizing the potential of your face-to-face interactions with your faculty.


Networking Reception


Day 2: Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Leading the Academic Department

8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Setting the Stage for Effective Leadership

How can you as department chair begin to address disputes between departmental colleagues, student complaints, budget cuts, potential program closures, angry parents, and rank and tenure challenges? Do you have the necessary skills to lead your department, manage the issues that arise each day, and communicate your individual and departmental needs to senior leadership?

This workshop will focus on the internal and external challenges to the work you do. It will also provide a series of practical and accessible tools regarding:

  • Effectively identifying issues
  • Productive framing of communications with stakeholders
  • Managing unanticipated and longstanding conflicts
  • Leveraging your leadership qualities to manage productively


Dealing with Difficult Colleagues

Although most faculty are conscientious, supportive, and hardworking, occasionally the chair must deal with a colleague whose behavior or substandard performance (whether in the classroom, in governance or service capacities, or in scholarship) presents problems for the department. This portion of the conference will provide tools for the department chair to identify the nature of the performance problem and to determine whether the faculty member can change the problematic behavior. We will also discuss strategies to follow if the faculty member resists attempts to improve his or her performance.


Setting Performance Expectations

What kind of behavior do we expect from our faculty colleagues? Is there consensus in the department about how a professional conducts himself or herself? This portion of the conference will demonstrate how to shape the discussion on performance standards, how to develop expectations for appropriate faculty and staff behavior, and what the chair can do to reinforce appropriate performance and respond to inappropriate performance. We will see why performance expectations should include norms of civility as well as threshold standards for re-appointment, retention, tenure, and promotion.


Mentoring and Motivating Others

“Chairing the academic department is like herding cats!” We’ve all heard remarks like this; the challenge of getting buy-in for departmental initiatives can be daunting. Our experts will discuss how to motivate others to work towards departmental goals (even when those goals may be in tension with individual professional goals), how to ensure voluntary compliance with external mandates, and how to inspire your colleagues to reach their own potentials. We will look at what research says about motivation and about how to harness these results to motivate your own faculty and staff. Finally, we will distinguish mentoring from sponsorship and discuss best practices for supporting your colleagues as a mentor or sponsor.


Day 3: Wednesday, February 20, 2019

8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Tying It All Together

Each participant will apply the previous sessions’ tools and techniques you've learned over the previous sessions. This session includes consulting times with speakers and participants will receive feedback from their peers and from the conference presenters.

Finally, participants will be encouraged to consider ways in which they can develop a personal leadership plan to guide them moving forward and to continue their own professional development on their home campus.

Wrap-Up, Takeaways, and Q&A


Post-Conference Workshop
Conflict Resolution: Tools and Best Practices for Academic Leaders

12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Your registration for the post-conference workshop includes the session below and materials, and lunch on Wednesday.

All who occupy leadership positions will be expected address, manage, and resolve conflict in the areas they manage and supervise. Join us for an interactive session which will explore the following questions:

  • Are we prepared to address conflict?
  • Are we conflict avoidant?
  • How do we manage conflict with colleagues? Supervisors? External constituents?

During this workshop, lead by Kathleen Rinehart, we will focus on the models and tools available to you to manage conflict at its earliest stages and to address conflicts that have simmered over time. In addition, you will have the opportunity to apply practical and accessible tools in realistic scenarios.

February 18 - 20, 2019
Denver, CO

Conference Hotel Information:

The Curtis Hotel
1405 Curtis Street
Denver, CO 80202

Room Rate: $149
Room Block Dates: nights of February 17, 18, & 19, 2019
Rate Available Until: January 25, 2019

Click the button below or call 303.571.0300 to make your room reservations and indicate you are with Academic Impressions to receive the group rate. Please make your reservations early - rooms and rates are subject to hotel availability.


Jeffrey Buller

Jeffrey L. Buller

Former Dean of the Honors College
Florida Atlantic University

Jeffrey Buller is widely recognized as one of the most effective promoters of academic leadership development in higher education today. He previously served for more than thirty years in administrative positions at Loras College, Georgia Southern University, and Mary Baldwin College.  After ten successful years as a dean at FAU, he became the first executive director of a newly created Center for Leadership and Professional Development.

Read Jeffrey's full bio here.


Jeanne A.K. Hey

Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
University of New England

Previously, Jeanne served as the Director of International Studies and Professor of Political Science at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. Dr. Hey is an alumna of the HERS Leadership Institute for women in academia, held at Wellesley College. She has developed and facilitated workshops and presentations on a variety of issues in management and leadership, including for the Council on Colleges of Arts and Sciences.

Read Jeanne's full bio here.

Kathleen Rinehart Headshot-1

Kathleen Rinehart

Cardinal Stritch University

Kathleen A. Rinehart serves as the 9th President of Cardinal Stritch University. Kathleen also serves as a consultant, facilitator and conflict coach for colleges and universities across the country, assisting them with the implementation of supervisory best practices and communication tools to effectively manage departmental and other campus conflict.

Read Kathleen's full bio here.

Can't Attend? Buy the Conference Binder

Purchase the conference binder, which includes all presentation slides, worksheets, action plans, and additional resources.

Note: Conference attendees do not need to purchase materials separately.

Questions About the Event?

Ashley Brand
Program Manager

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