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Orientation For New Department Heads

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Training Faculty to Teach CE

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1134.1 - 12.1134.8



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Paper Authors


Allen Estes California Polytechnic State University

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Allen C. Estes is a Professor and Head for the Architectural Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Until January 2007, Dr. Estes was the Director of the Civil Engineering Program at the United States Military Academy (USMA). He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. Al Estes received a B.S. degree from USMA in 1978, M.S. degrees in Structural Engineering and in Construction Management from Stanford University in 1987 and a Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997.

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Ronald Welch The University of Texas-Tyler

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Ronald W. Welch is currently Professor and Department Head for the Civil Engineering program at University of Texas at Tyler. He was previously an Associate Professor at the United States Military Academy (USMA). He is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia. COL Welch received a BS degree in Engineering Mechanics from USMA in 1982 and MS and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1990 and 1999, respectively.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Orientation for New Department Heads Abstract

The position of department head is incredibly important to any university. Because many new department heads are faculty members who have little to no leadership or management experience, some orientation training is warranted. This paper investigates the topics that should be covered in such training. The results are based on a survey of existing civil engineering department heads and an examination of the training already available through universities and professional societies.

I. Introduction

Every civil engineering program is overseen by a department head who almost always moves to this position from faculty member status. Some serve for a three year rotating tour, while others can remain in the position for many years. The department head position carries a number of new and important responsibilities that can include budgeting, counseling, assigning resources, accreditation preparation, publicity, hiring new faculty members, mentoring of staff, and interfacing with the Dean, Provost and President. Lately, the responsibilities have extended to fundraising, strategic planning, alumni relations, teaching and research mentoring, and industry partnerships. The job requires skill at human relations, organization, and leadership. All of these responsibilities represent a big change from the teaching, research, and service activities expected of most faculty members. This paper will address the need for specialized training for this position, a list of the most important topics that need to be covered as determined by a survey of current civil engineering department heads, and the current availability of such training. The subject of department head training is being considered by both the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Department Head Council Executive Committee and the ASCE Committee on Faculty Development.

II. Department Head Responsibilities

The role of department head can be both inherently rewarding and intensely frustrating, all on the same day. The job will vary somewhat from institution to institution, but the core responsibilities are fairly common. The department chair is a colleague and peer with the faculty members in a department, but is expected to interface and support the policies of the Dean and the University level administration. It is the highest position where an individual still controls curriculum, teaches courses, and has daily contact with students in the classroom. While many descriptions of department head duties exist, Graham and Benoit1 divided the responsibilities into four broad categories: administrative, leadership, interpersonal, and resource development. Table 1 uses these categories and their sub-responsibilities to indicate where a new department head might be experienced, have some experience or be inexperienced. The table is not universal as some faculty members will gain experience through service in student activities, university committees, or professional societies prior to assuming duties as chair. A department head is also expected to continue teaching, research and university service activities and also be a role model, mentor, and leader in those areas.

Estes, A., & Welch, R. (2007, June), Orientation For New Department Heads Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1967

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