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Assessing & Enhancing Department Climate:
A Workshop Series for Department Chairs

"Climate" — the extent to which an individual feels personally safe, listened to, valued, and treated fairly and with respect — plays an important role in people’s job satisfaction, effectiveness, productivity, engagement, and decisions to remain in or leave a department or area of study.

Because department chairs/heads play an important role in developing and sustaining a positive, productive, and welcoming departmental climate.[1] WISELI has developed a workshop series for department chairs seeking to improve climate in their departments.

Description of the workshop series

WISELI's workshop "Assessing and Enhancing Department Climate: A Chair's Role," a series of three sessions, engages small groups of department chairs in discussions about climate in their own departments and provides them with opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences and ideas. A brief departmental climate survey administered between the first and second sessions allows chairs to identify specific issues of concern for their own departments. Participating chairs and facilitators work collaboratively to develop plans to address these issues. The three sessions are described below:

Session 1:

Department chairs engage in a general discussion of climate and the importance of fostering positive climates. Topics discussed include:

Department Climate Survey — a brief survey will be adminstered to department members between Session 1 and Session 2.

Session 2:

Department Chairs share aspects of survey results with department and identify areas of concern.

Session 3:

Workshop Schedule

The first session of the workshop series is typically scheduled during October of any given year. The remaining two sessions will be scheduled in consultation with participating chairs. Chairs at UW-Madison interested in participating during the 2016-17 academic year can contact Eve Fine to be placed on a wait list. We will do our best to schedule the first session at a time convenient to chairs on the wait list.



Climate Workshops for Department Chairs

UW-Madison Campus Climate

Publications and Presentations

For publications and presentations related to department climate, visit this page.


1. Bensimon, E. M., Ward, K., & Sanders, K. (2000). The department chair's role in developing new faculty into teachers and scholars. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing; Carroll, J. B., & Gmelch, W. H. (1994). Department chairs' perceptions of the relative importance of their duties. Journal for Higher Education Management, 10(1), 49-63; Lucas, Ann (1994). Strengthening Department Leadership: A Team Building Guide for Department Leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (Find in your library)