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Spectra: The magazine of the National Communication Association


Serving as chair is a significant point in the career of any faculty member who inhabits the office. It is a position with high highs and low lows, significant stressors and some perks, the chance to have a positive impact on a program, and the near certainty that at some point you will generate disagreement with almost everyone in the department. The department chair is a boundary position between the university administration and the faculty; a chair inhabits both worlds, but resides fully in neither. Chairs are charged with numerous responsibilities and often lack full authority needed to accomplish their mission. In short, the department chair is a position unlike any other, and time spent in that role will not be soon forgotten. ...

Why would anyone want to be a department chair? There are many answers, but for me, it is the opportunity to make a positive impact on a larger scale than is possible as a non-administrative faculty member. If you have a concern for the common good, an insightful sense of vision, a love of making things better, and tenacity in pursuing those goals in the face of obstacle's, the chair's office offers a unique opportunity to contribute. Not only can you make the department better, but the work as chair also is central to the well-being of our discipline, as I'll explain later. This is important work that affects individuals at your institution and the community at large.

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