Earlier in this Guide, after going through the multiple demands on a department chair, we gave some suggestions for strategies for dealing with such demands. Now we elaborate on the first suggestion: Delegate! As we wrote earlier: "Departmental cultures vary on how much is done by the chair and how much is delegated to others. We recommend that departments make a conscious effort to divide up tasks. Even though this will mean more work for some faculty in departments where the chair currently does it all, the pay-off will come later, when that person in turn can rely on the help of others."

Here are some of the tasks or areas that are easiest to delegate to others:

  • club advisor
  • organizer of social events for majors
  • information on internships, careers, and/or graduate school in your discipline
  • information about alumni/ae
  • information about achievements of current students
  • supervising student worker(s), e.g., department secretary, lab assistants
  • updating the letter for prospective students sent out by the Admission Office
  • updating the department webpages
  • assessment data
  • cultivation and stewardship of donors
  • supervision of special departmental funds
  • some of the tasks involved in a faculty search
  • arrangements for guest speakers
  • visiting classes of untenured faculty (shared among tenured faculty)

When dividing up tasks, play to the experience and strengths of individual faculty members. For example, if a previous chair has a strong relationship with a donor to the department, ask that person to continue stewardship. If one person has strong organizational skills, ask them to take on arrangements for guest speakers.

As chair, you still have the overall responsibility for seeing that all of these things get done, which may mean that you have to remember to remind someone else about what needs to be done. What if delegating a particular task isn't working, even with reminders and some discussion with the person you've asked to take charge?  First, keep in perspective what counts as a good enough job, even if it is not being done the way you might do it yourself. If that doesn't solve the problem, then rotate the task to someone else, and ask the first person what they might prefer to do instead.