SOURCE: Academic Impressions

Academic Impressions

March 09, 2010 11:57 ET

Department Chair Report Cards: Academic Impressions Research Reveals 38% of Faculty Assign Failing Grades to Department Chair Performance

Survey Highlights Significant Discrepancies Between Perceptions of Department Chair Performance by Faculty and the Chairs Themselves, Outlines Challenges Facing Department Chairs

DENVER, CO--(Marketwire - March 9, 2010) -   While faculty are normally tasked with grading students, a recent Academic Impressions ( survey asked faculty to grade the performance of their department chairs. The leading provider of professional development for higher education administrators today released the results of the proprietary research, comparing faculty members' perceptions of department chair performance with the performance evaluations reported by department chairs themselves.

Academic Impressions found that faculty members assigned significantly lower grades to department chair performance in each of the five survey categories -- Faculty Evaluation and Development, Advancement and Fundraising, Planning and Budgeting, Conflict Management and Student Recruitment and Enrollment -- than the department chairs. In fact, while 85% of department chairs gave themselves A's and B's to characterize their overall performance, 58% of responding faculty assigned C's, D's and F's to their department chairs' performance.

The survey, conducted in January of 2010, yielded responses from nearly three hundred department chairs and faculty at higher education institutions across the country. It also sought to glean key challenges facing department chairs in modern academia, which included the following:

  • Under-preparedness. 64% of department chairs reported feeling unprepared to assume the role when they moved into the position. 43% of department chairs felt least prepared to address Advancement and Fundraising initiatives upon assuming the role, followed by Conflict Management (20%) and Planning and Budgeting (18%). Advancement and Fundraising also represents the area in which department chairs gave themselves the lowest marks, with over one-third of respondents assigning themselves a D or F grade in that area.
  • Prioritizing responsibilities. 44% of department chairs believe that Faculty Development is their most important responsibility in their role, followed by Planning and Budgeting (23%). Faculty -- when asked about the most important responsibility of a department chair -- indicated that advocacy to senior leadership was the most important (51%).
  • Time management. 54% of department chairs reported that time management posed the most significant challenge to being effective in their position.
  • Institutional politics. 39% of department chairs indicated that institutional politics was the most salient challenge of their position. 71% of responding department chairs reported having had to make a decision to accommodate the demands of senior institutional leadership that was not in the best interest of their department.

"The survey results indicate an evolving landscape in academia. Department chairs are tasked with more responsibilities in tactical areas outside of their core competencies as educators," explains Amit Mrig, CEO of Academic Impressions. "Department chairs must simultaneously navigate the roles of conflict mediator, budget manager, team builder, enrollment resource, and advancement partner. The fact that the department chairs report a lack of preparedness for the demands of the position suggests additional training may contribute to improved performance and heightened institutional health."

In an effort to bolster competencies and confidence among department chairs, Academic Impressions has announced a five-part online training series aimed at developing the essential skills required of an effective department chair. Installments of 50 Things Every Department Chair Should Know will be held every Friday from 1:00pm to 2:30pm Eastern beginning on March 12, 2010. For the price of one registration, any number of current or aspiring department chairs from an institution can attend this online event. Space is limited -- for registration details or to view a program agenda, visit

About Academic Impressions
Academic Impressions offers focused and intentionally crafted learning experiences to help higher education professionals address their most pressing challenges. Professional development programming addresses a range of issues related to student recruitment and retention, faculty support and development, alumni engagement and development, and increasing organizational productivity. Learn more at

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