Department Chair Roles in the Community College

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Title: Department Chair Roles in the Community College
Author: Edwards, John W., II
Advisors: Donald L. Reichard, Committee Member
J. Conrad Glass, Jr., Committee Member
Duane Akroyd, Committee Member
John S. Levin, Committee Chair
Abstract: The community college mission has been revised as it has redefined the populations it serves and how the work is accomplished in response to global influences (Levin, 2000). However, the department chair has received little attention by those who study globalization and the community college (Levin, 2001). As community colleges revise their responsibilities according to local, state, and national mandates, department chairs find themselves in a maelstrom of change. The changing environment adds complexity to the chair position and influences chair behaviors. Chairs find themselves at critical junctures to influence key stakeholders within the college. This qualitative investigation examines two community colleges in the state of North Carolina as a specific context of institutional change. The data indicate that community college department chairs focus most of their attention on formal supervisory roles, followed by formal teaching roles, and then informal group maintenance roles. Perceptions of role importance were affected by constraints throughout the institution. Constraints on community college department chairs include the unequal dissemination of institutional resources among departments at the college and by college administrators, technology availability and training, as well as local variables that influence the community college. Department chairs are also limited in their actions by role ambiguity and by institutional bureaucracy. This situation uniquely positions chairs as both 'managed professionals' and 'managerial professionals,' indicating a new category of professional in higher education. Department chairs' understanding of their roles may help practitioners wield influence more competently in their institutions and may help theorists more accurately conceptualize how community college leaders manage the department as the institution meets the challenges associated with globalization. This study adds to the body of knowledge by giving theorists and practitioners a clearer understanding of the complex nature of the department chair within the current global climate.
Date: 2006-05-08
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Higher Education Administration

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