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

Recent research shows that "climate" — the extent to which an individual feels personally safe, listened to, valued, and treated fairly and with respect — plays an important role in peopleís job satisfaction, effectiveness, productivity, engagement, and decisions to remain in or leave a department or area of study.

A recent survey of 4,500 tenure-track faculty at 51 colleges and universities found that faculty place great value on departmental climate, culture, and collegiality and that these qualities are critical to faculty retention.[1]

Department chairs/heads can play an important role in developing and sustaining a positive, productive, and welcoming departmental climate.[2] WISELI has developed a series of three workshop sessions for department chairs seeking to improve climate in their departments.

The workshop series is described below:

Description of the workshop series

WISELI's workshop "Assessing and Enhancing Department Climate: A Chair's Role" is offered as a series of three sessions. Each session engages small groups of department chairs in discussions about climate in their own departments and provides them with opportunities to learn from each otherís 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. Each of the three sessions and the goals of the series are described below.


Session 1:

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

Introduction to web-based departmental climate survey.

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 scheduled for Wednesday, October 21, 2015 from 12:00noon to 1:30pm (lunch will be provided). The remaining two sessions will be scheduled in consultation with participating chairs. Registration is required. To register please contact Eve Fine by October 19, 2015.



Climate Workshops for Department Chairs

UW-Madison Campus Climate


1. Fogg, Piper (September 29, 2006). Young Ph.D.ís Say Collegiality Matters More than Salary. The Chronicle of Higher Education 53(6), A1. (Find in your library)

2. 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)