University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

New ‘Chairs Leadership Cohort’ facilitates academic leadership development

The Office of the Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs is pleased to announce that it has created and implemented the Chairs Leadership Cohort (CLC), an exciting new strategy to facilitate academic leadership development for Departmental Chairs—among the most important leaders in higher education.

The CLC’s programmatic mission is to support the continued success and professional development of departmental chairs by providing meaningful opportunities to foster a spirit of community and collaboration; share information and expertise; and identify, explore, and develop best practices in academic leadership at the departmental level.

Our campus community’s shared Exceptional UND vision challenges us to think bigger, better, and more creatively about UND’s future by enriching student learning, encouraging gathering, facilitating collaboration, expanding our presence, and enhancing our quality of life. The VPAA office is committed to ensuring academic excellence to advance the university’s strategic priorities. Many transformative academic initiatives, including those focused on enriched teaching and learning, are underway.

A major VPAA office goal is to foster the professional success and growth of everyone responsible for the academic enterprise. To advance this goal, the VPAA office has launched a strategic initiative to develop meaningful professional development opportunities rooted in best practices for faculty and academic leaders.

Last spring, the VPAA office inaugurated the CLC as a peer-to-peer leadership development strategy. Featuring widespread participation across all colleges, sessions included optimizing the role and functions of chair, faculty support and evaluation, and budget and finance.

Now in its second year, the CLC is expanding dramatically in breadth and depth, focusing on best practices from UND and across the nation. Fall sessions began with a New Chair Retreat, at which experienced UND Chairs Matt Cavalli (Mechanical Engineering), Kathy Gershman (Educational Foundations & Research), Mike Mann (Chemical Engineering), Mike Poellot (Atmospheric Sciences), and Ike Schlosser (Biology); conflict resolution specialist Kristine Paranica; and budget analysts Cindy Fetsch and Cheryl Schreiner shared insights with our newest chairs.

At the CLC’s first full session, the Cohort heard from President Robert Kelley, who discussed how to develop focus and vision to achieve shared departmental goals and foster individual faculty and staff success. Among the highlights was the President’s reflection on the influence his father and various academic mentors had on his pathways to leadership. The CLC also benefited from the expertise of Margi Healy and Sherry Houdek, experienced chairs in the Department of Educational Leadership, who discussed management and leadership models before engaging the CLC in an active-learning skills inventory exercise.

Throughout the fall, the CLC will view and discuss national best-practices webinars from the Jossey-Bass Department Chair Leadership Institute on time and stress management, effective communication and conflict management, and effective and fair faculty evaluation. Chairs will be provided with online access to The Department Chair newsletter, a copy of Jeffrey Buller’s The Essential Department Chair: A Comprehensive Desk Reference, and resource guides and supplemental readings from Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Steve Light and VPAA office Director of Academic Affairs Personnel and Programs Diane Hadden. The spring will bring thought-provoking new topics and conversations.

The VPAA office is gratified that so many departmental chairs are enthusiastically participating in the Chairs Leadership Cohort, and contributing their time and talent to UND’s academic success. Together, we will create an Exceptional UND!

-Steve Light, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs,