One of the most difficult aspects of being a department chair is that you are no longer at the same level as your colleagues; you wear a different hat and people will not only treat you differently, but you may be isolated. However, you are not alone – you are part of the uOttawa academic leaders. You can consult the calendar of activities on the Centre for Academic Leadership's website.
You should also remember that, as Department Chair, you are still an APUO member and your association is there to support you.
As Department Chair, although you have many responsibilities, you are not answerable for everything; there is a team around you - department colleagues, support staff, the Dean and vice-deans - and you should rely on them, as well as use other resources available to you.
uOttawa Resources for Department Chairs
- Who to call - Your Dean should be the first person you contact for advice if there is a particularly problematic situation in your department that you are not able to resolve yourself. You can also seek advice from your predecessor, as well as your departmental chair colleagues within your Faculty, or the APUO.
- Support group - The Centre for Academic Leadership holds a new leaders' orientation every year, typically just before the beginning of the autumn term. At this orientation, you may seek the advice of colleagues in the university about challenges you’ve encountered or expect to encounter. The orientation is also your opportunity to establish small support groups of chairs with similar departmental profiles and to agree to meet on a regular basis throughout the academic year. The CAL can help you organise this. Additionally, contact the CAL to be twinned with a mentor.
- Skills development - The complex responsibility of being Department Chair requires a set of specific qualifications as well as skills. Since the university is an institution founded on collegiality where leaders are coopted by their peers, having been chosen as Chair, you may not necessarily have the specific training needed for assuming this responsibility. The skills you have acquired through your training as researchers and teachers, focused primarily on acquiring disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge. Rather than acquiring the skills through gradual learning on the job, you should contact the CAL to create a personal development plan.
- Workshops – The CAL holds workshops to focus on specific aspects of the chair’s responsibilities – the budget and the governance of the university, for example. Visit the calendar of events.
- Books – The CAL has an interesting collection of useful books and articles for academic leaders and faculty.