Chairs Discussion Group

Chairs Discussion GroupProgram

The Chairs Discussion Group (CDG) invites first-time and reappointed chairs to meet monthly for confidential, peer-to-peer discussions in a supportive forum. Participating reappointed chairs provide an additional mentoring component, in addition to benefiting from the shared experience of others. Conversations are strictly confidential and are for the sole purpose of allowing chairs a chance to share best practices, explore concerns and situations. Participation is voluntary.

Professor Angie O’Rand, former chair of Sociology and Divisional Dean of Social Sciences, facilitates the group meetings with the assistance of David Kiel, who has led similar groups at other universities.

Goals of the Program

Department chairs play an essential role – developing the strategic course of their department, managing budgets, and leading faculty recruitment and retention efforts. In this role of service to their departments, colleagues and the university, chairs often face difficult situations with many demands on their time. The Chairs Discussion Group, piloted in the spring of 2017, is a Trinity College of Arts & Sciences program designed to provide continuing support and training for chairs. The program was established in response to department chair feedback collected through an assessment commissioned by Dean Ashby during the summer of 2016.

Why Join the Program

  • Most chairs reported they joined the group because they felt it would be beneficial to get the perspective of their colleagues. Several expressed some concern about the challenges they might face as a new chair.
  • In an assessment survey, responding chairs were uniformly enthusiastic about the program using descriptors such as “fantastic,” “supportive,” “highlight of the month,” “invaluable feedback,” “great opportunity,” and a “wonderful source of dialogue.”
  • Participants found the group particularly helpful to discuss difficult issues related to unionization, reappointments, retentions, appointing a DUS, staff issues, and in general issues they could not discuss with colleagues in the department.
  • The best things about the group were: hearing others’ perspectives, getting advice, learning that “I am not alone,” experiencing camaraderie and meeting new colleagues.