Useful information

3.2 Delegating

Although every issue will be brought to you as Department Chair, it’s not up to you to act on all of them. It is your responsibility to see that the right person/committee deals with it – you’re a bit of a traffic cop. For example, there is no reason that you have to take and distribute the minutes for every department meeting, or that you personally mentor all new faculty members and graduate students. The same is true for curriculum development, drafting policies for discussion by the entire department, conducting faculty searches and recruiting students. Your colleagues should be involved in all these tasks and others.

Some universities and colleges have explicit lists of what can be delegated (e.g. Cornell College), but that is not the case at uOttawa. Rather than having a list of items which can be delegated, the APUO Collective Agreement prevents certain tasks from being delegated. For example:

  • Serving as a member of and chair for the Departmental Teaching Personnel Committee (DTPC);
  • Convening and chairing regular departmental meetings, including an annual meeting with regular department members to discuss academic priorities, direction and operational requirements;
  • Attending and serving as a departmental representative at faculty executive and faculty council meetings;
  • Managing performance evaluations of administrative and clerical staff within the department.

It is said that it’s impossible to be a leader without effective delegation. If you have ‘issues’ with the idea of delegating (nobody can do the job as well as you, it would take you too long to train someone else, etc.), blogs written by leaders inside and outside of academia might be helpful – a simple Google search on the art of delegating will give you lots of interesting results (e.g., from academia and the business world).


Buller, J. L. (2011). The essential department chair: A comprehensive desk reference. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Cornell College. (2009). Department’s Chair Handbook. Retrieved from

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