The daily life of the chair can be made easier through effective use of whatever support staff might be available. This varies from department to department and building to building. At a minimum, chairs can get help from a student employee.

Whenever handing over a particular task, be sure to give clear, detailed instructions:

  • If not obvious, explain the context of the job.
  • Explain step by step what needs to be done.
  • Write down the day or time by which you need the job done.
  • Give ample lead time! The occasional rush job is understandable, but not as a common practice.
  • Ask if s/he has any questions about the job.

Faculty secretaries

Faculty secretaries technically report to the Assistant Dean, but their primary role is to support faculty. You should feel free to ask any faculty secretary for assistance. If you are fortunate enough to have one, get to know the faculty secretary in your building. What are their particular strengths?  What kind of work do they take particular pleasure in?  What previous experience do they have that might be tapped? 

Student employees

Each department has a budgetary line that covers a number of hours of student work for the department. At the end of the academic year, you will be asked for names to include on the following year's payroll. Consult with your department colleagues on their student preferences; you are responsible for dividing work-study time equitably among department members, and submitting those hours to the Office of Financial Assistance. Advise colleagues to find sophomores, for continuity over a few years.

Tasks to get help with

Here are some of the tasks you might ask a support staff person to do. The list below has the most straightforward tasks at the top and the more complicated (or the most needing of confidentiality) towards the bottom. Except for helping with confidential materials (e.g., assessment data) , you could ask either a student employee or a faculty secretary to do most of these; it will depend on who is available to you and what their particular skills and talents are.

  • photocopy
  • pick up and sort mail. It helps to have a set of cubbyholes or mail boxes in the department. In addition to sorting mail by person, the chair's mail can be sorted into "junk" and regular.
  • bring mail to mailroom
  • check books out of library
  • complete errands around campus; e.g., a trip to the bookstore for office supplies
  • organize and keep up the departmental bulletin boards
  • make up posters or do other publicity for departmental events
  • type up notes, e.g., meeting notes, reading notes, lecture notes
  • stock common supplies; e.g., department letterhead, office supplies, printer paper.
  • order desk copies and exam copies
  • help with gathering travel info (though it may be easier to do it yourself)
  • help with events-e.g., ordering food, room reservations, chair set ups
  • help keeping up-to-date with various campus deadlines
  • organize data of various sorts
  • assist with administering or tracking the departmental assessment plan
  • help maintaining the department website
  • coordinate student employees in the building

Other possible sources of help

Staff in the Office of Academic Affairs:
The staff in the Office of Academic Affairs have a wealth of information and advice on how to do things, and can point you in the right direction to get the help that you might need.