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Teaching & Learning Resources at Camosun: Your first days as chair

Your first days as chair

Taking on the role of chair can feel exciting yet overwhelming at first. You may get fulltime release for the position, or a smaller percentage of release time while continuing with regular teaching duties. You may already have some leadership experience, or are stretching yourself out of your comfort zone to try something new. Some faculty enter the role of chair because their department rotates the position every few years among the faculty, and everyone takes a turn.  Others are keen to step into this leadership role as a way to expand their skills and contributions. Regardless, being a chair brings with it great new challenges and rewards, and is significantly different from the role of teaching.

Introduce yourself to other key partners across the college

When you were a teaching faculty member, contact with others across the college may have been limited. As the chair, there are a number of key relationships you will need to establish. Find out the names of the individuals you will be interacting with the most. Take the time to go around and introduce yourself, so you can put faces to names. Ask them how your roles intersect, and what practices have worked well in the past. These relationships each hold a little piece of the puzzle as it relates to what you do, and will prove invaluable throughout your time as chair.

Below is a list of some key partners and links to other information that will assist you in your work:




Policies you should be familiar with

All Camosun policies are listed on the website. Some you will use more often than others, but it is good to have a sense of what’s there for reference when you need it. They cover a wide range of topics including: board governance, organizational goals, education council, academic policies, student services policies, research, operations, facilities, finance, human resources, and information management. Here is a list of some policies that you will need to refer to:

Need to know and refer to MOST frequently:

Need to know and refer to LESS frequently:


Ask for help

Get to know who to turn to for support, and recognize that you are not alone. Your dean, associate dean, A2D (assistant to the dean), and AC (administrative coordinator) within your school will also be people that you spend more time interacting with. Though your dean will be the first point of contact for most assistance, previous department chairs can be an invaluable source of wisdom, as well as chairs from other departments within your school and across the college. (See full list of chairs and program leaders on the intro page to this guide, or search the intranet people finder by entering school into the search box).

  • Ask your dean for a reference to a former chair, or chair outside your school to act as a mentor
  • Get support from the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
  • Some duties may typically get delegated to program leaders and other department faculty
  • Ask for clerical support from CUPE staff in your school office

Schedule your work flow and make it transparent

Work with your dean to develop a timeline of tasks that will be expected of you throughout the year. Use your electronic calendar (Outlook, Teams) to book appointments, invite people to meetings, track your to-do list, and schedule upcoming events. Reserve and book time off in your calendar for desk work and travel between meetings.

Posting your office hours on your door and in your calendar is helpful to your students, your faculty, and your sanity. Being transparent about your availability means you might get fewer students and faculty dropping in unexpectedly with issues when you are on the run, when you are busy with another meeting, or when you need to be uninterrupted in order to focus on a task.

If you are away from work, even for a day, put a note on the door, phone, and your email autoreply informing everyone where you can be reached, who is covering for you, and when you expect to return.

Things you have to sign

There is no shortage of paperwork, and it can take some time to figure out which forms require your signature. Find out from your school office how to do electronic signatures. Here are some key ones:

For students:

  • Request to withdraw from course in fulltime career or vocational program after fee deadline (chair or program leader)
  • Prerequsite waiver
  • Prior learning assessment application
  • All Registrar forms

For faculty and staff: