Department Leader Support

Scrabble tiles spelling Team, Lead, and Succeed

(Author: Nick Fewings) Free to use under the Unsplash License

Your role as a Department Leader involves many new responsibilities and building new relationships across the College. This position comes with challenges and opportunities to grow and will certainly never be boring.

Please see the newest Department Leader Handbook (2023) which provides helpful orientation info.

The IAs are here to help you navigate the transition, and assist with some key areas of your job: mentorship/connecting with other department leaders, developing a department online/blended learning strategy, annual program reviews, program renewal, hiring and orienting new faculty, developing faculty teaching skills, and curriculum development and revision.

Three key transitions for new department leaders described by John Bennet (cited in Hecht, et. al) are:

  1. From specialist to generalist – needing to understand the full department outside your area of expertise;
  2. From working individually to running a collective – balancing responsibility for carrying out department objectives with respect for faculty autonomy, managing staff;
  3. Balancing more perspectives – understanding and responding to department views/needs as well as institutional perspectives.

Irene W. D. Hecht, Mary Lou Higgerson, Walter H . Gmelch, Allan Tucker. “Roles and Responsibilities of Department Chairs.” The Department Chair as Academic Leader (Phoenix, AZ: ACE Oryx Press, 1999). Chapter 2. Retrieved from

The Instructional Associates host a bimonthly department leader community of practice. This informal forum for academic leaders from across the College is an opportunity to share ideas, expertise, practices, and perhaps even challenges. For these gatherings, we use the "Communities of Practice" model (Wenger 1998), which means you're in charge of what's discussed - which topics are most important for you at that moment and each member of the group decides how much or how little to contribute.

Occasionally, CTLR will suggest topics based on feedback from surveys to department leaders about what they would like to focus on in upcoming sessions. You should receive Outlook invites to upcoming gatherings. If there are any topics you’d like to discuss, please email your ideas to the Instructional Associates.

  • Chair AcademyFoundational level and advanced level of programming;
  • Heads and Chairs from University of Manitoba provides you with foundational knowledge and skills to develop and enhance your academic leadership at the departmental level. Led by a team of experienced academic administrators, it draws upon both the literature and practice of academic leadership and presents it to you in a highly interactive setting. Virtual delivery. Apprx 12 hours. Anticipated June 2023. Costs $750.