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Leadership Development and Curriculum Building

Leadership and Curriculum Building

Coaching/Mentoring of Department Chairs

Academic administrators are typically appointed following some degree of success in their faculty roles of research and teaching. Unfortunately, success in such areas does not automatically transfer to success in leading the academic unit. Similarly, the ability to find satisfaction and fulfilment in the faculty role does not always transfer to similar passion for aspects of leadership and management.

Leaders operating without adequate preparation, coaching, mentoring, or support will be limited in their ability to advance the progress of the organization. Beyond lost opportunities, poor leadership may have widespread effects on productivity and morale which in turn may adversely affect the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students.

To help support success in the administration role, we have initiated a program of individual coaching sessions with newly appointed department chairs. Our program developer and “coach” has extensive administrative experience at College and Departmental levels and maintains an active research program in leadership and organizational systems.

While scheduling is sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of individual chairs, a common plan is for sessions to be held weekly over the first 4-6 weeks of the new appointment, then bi-weekly for the remainder of year one, monthly during year two, and at least once per semester during year three. Content includes a mix of structured activities and unstructured discussion.

Early sessions typically focus on the transition from faculty to administrative life and developing and maintaining organizational systems within the unit. Over time increasing attention is devoted to conflict management, strategic goal development, successful leadership behavior and preparing future members of the unit to serve in leadership roles.

Future phases of the program will develop a cohort of coaches to expand services across West Virginia University and at other institutions.

Assessment and Feedback

We are able to work with Deans to improve processes for assessment of department chairs and other academic administrators. This includes the design and implementation of 360o assessment surveys, data analysis, and summary feedback.

We also have developed an administrative portfolio template aligned with core areas of expected performance for departmental leaders to facilitate the annual review process.

Building the Leadership Bench

To help strengthen the pool of future leaders, we are beginning a reading group for advanced associate professors. Readings and discussion will focus on skills for successful leadership of academic units. Our goals for this “book club” are not only to help develop skills, but to demystify academic administration and open possibilities among those who may have previously feared such career paths involved moving to the “dark side.”

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