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Department Chairs

Bridge Builders

"The complex role of department chair requires a skilled individual who can both serve and coordinate multiple constituencies. Institutional reliance upon department chairs as primary change agents and managers will continue to increase as institutions respond to external pressures for productivity and fact, the very reputation of the institution depends on the success of its department chairs in bridging institutional and departmental needs." (Hect et al 1999, p.15)

Empty Street

We specialize in helping leaders
manage transition and change
to bridge institutional and departmental needs!

We're looking for conscientious mavericks

ready to navigate change within your unique department and institution in the context of the

Five Common Hindrances to Navigating Disruption in Higher Education. (Buchanan 2022)


Here's a few reasons why:

  • Managing change was cited as “one of the toughest challenges I face as an administrator”   by 72 percent of higher education administrators in a survey conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education and Watermark (Anft 2022)

  • Department chairs play a significant role in the future of their institution and its students and they encounter all Five Common Hindrances to Navigating Disruption in Higher Education (Buchanan 2022)

  • New department chairs experience major transitions of their own (Hect,et al 1999)

  • Desired outcomes don’t happen unless ideas are converted into a clear, concrete, relevant, and practical plan that is implemented in a way that achieves the intended results in a timely and effective fashion (Buchanan 2024)

  • Change and transition management are not scalable or duplicable. “Not all academic  leaders or faculty members may be accustomed to the minutiae of practical day-to-day change management, but the complexity of modern organizations and the nature, pace,   and scope of change demand such focus.” (Buchanan 2022)

Five common obstacles

to navigating disruption in higher education

  1. Underestimating the tumultuous impact of change on the institution’s capacity

  2. Overabundance of disparate initiatives that compete for the same limited bandwidth

  3. Inconsistent institutional agreement about shared governance and academic freedom

  4. Ineffective stakeholder engagement and communication with stakeholder groups

  5. Underestimating the level of courage necessary to achieve goals.

Resources for Department Chairs 

Change/Transition Support





Anft, Michael. 2022. Stepping Up to Innovate: College Administrators Assess Higher Ed’s Ability to Change Itself. Washington, DC: The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Buchanan, Donna M. 2024. “Managing Change: Part 2: Successful Planning.” The Department Chair 34 (4): 9–12.

Buchanan, Donna M. 2022. “Managing Change: Five Common Hindrances to Navigating Disruption in Higher Education.” The Department Chair 33 (1): 23–25.


Hect, Irene W.D.,, Mary Lou Higgerson, Walter H . Gmelch, Allan Tucker. “Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs.” The Department Chair as Academic Leader (Phoenix, AZ: ACE Oryx Press, 1999). Chapter 2.

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