Chairs of the academic departments at Jackson State University assembled Nov. 4-5 at the Mississippi e-Center @ JSU for a leadership development workshop featuring academic leadership consultant Dr. Donald Chu.
Chu opened the workshop with a seminar entitled, “The Essentials: What Chairs Need to Know and Do,” addressing such topics as attitude development, chair-faculty collaboration, budget management and leadership roles.
“You are your department,” Chu told the chairs as he explained that they were the core and face of their respective departments. “The most important person is not the chancellor. It’s the department chair.”
Chu also emphasized the need for faculty to express interest in the well being of the students they serve. “Students need faculty support. They need someone to let them know they’re cared for,” Chu said. “College is emotionally straining on first time college students, especially those who don’t know they belong.
“We have a responsibility because of where we’ve been entrusted to do the work,” Chu said. “We’re working with the future, the kids. That’s why we wear the robes. Who wears the robes? The churches, the judges, and us.”
This professional development workshop aided in the university’s path toward excellence.
“Jackson State University realizes that the responsibility of heading an academic department is probably one of the most important and demanding administrative position in higher education,” said Dr. Dorris Robinson-Gardner, dean of Graduate Studies and professor of higher education administration. “Therefore, each year, the university expects to provide a professional development opportunity with an expert for the purpose of assisting in creating stronger academic departments.”
Chu is the dean of the School of Education at National University, founder of Academic Leadership Consulting, and author of THE DEPARTMENT CHAIR PRIMER: What Chairs Need to Know and Do to Make a Difference. Many of the book’s ideas come from practicing chairs and are proven strategies for dealing with a variety of issues.
Chu has served as dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services at California State University, San Marcos, and dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of West Florida. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and his master’s in sociology and Ph.D. in education from Stanford University. Chu has written and edited five books and numerous articles on higher education, sports and the Olympic Games. From 1999 to 2000 Chu was executive fellow in the Office of the Chancellor of the California State University (CSU) System and completed the Harvard Management Development Program. In collaboration with the CSU Statewide Academic Senate, the Office of the Chancellor, Chu conducted the 20 campus CSU Department Chair Surveys (2002) and wrote their associated reports.