Department Chair Quarterly, volume 1, issue 2

Department Chair Quarterly Articles

Letter from the Editor

Campus is (relatively) empty. Your email notifications show up every 28 minutes instead of every five minutes. Reports are being filed and plans are being made. Welcome to summer “break” as an administrator! While every campus has different expectations for chairs, program coordinators, and other administrators during the summer, I hope that your schedule allows you to stop, breathe, and reflect on your role and your accomplishments. This summer is an especially welcome respite from the COVID-19 pandemic. As you settle into your institution’s “new normal,” you may find yourself balancing traditional day-to-day operational responsibilities with questions about which pandemic-related changes are worth adapting as we return to our campuses in Fall 2021.

This edition of the Department Chair Quarterly is meant to assist administrators who are juggling a myriad of summer responsibilities. Whether you are reflecting on the past year or strategizing ways to make a positive impact moving forward, it is comprised of good advice – and a dose of reality – from experienced department chairs and innovative scholars. Cammy Shay, a longtime chair as well as an expert in integrative teaching and learning strategies for online and hybrid environments, reflects on how her division faculty has responded to the challenges of teaching and maintaining a sense of community throughout the pandemic. Robin Kolodny suggests an outreach project ideal for these summer months that can yield big dividends for departments in subsequent years. Many chairs and deans will spend time this summer writing reviews of their faculty; Phillip Ardoin takes a hard – but refreshingly honest – look at flaws in the way we evaluate faculty performance in research, teaching, and service. Finally, Tricia Stapleton and Melissa Michelson build from their 2021 article in PS: Political Science & Politics to offer chairs concrete advice on how to promote gender equity in their departments and colleges.

While there is much work to be done in the summer, I encourage you to make time for yourself. Engage in those restorative practices that help you to relax and reset. Kerry Ann Rockquemore, president of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, offers great advice for faculty members who are battling emotional, intellectual, and physical fatigue. Whether you take Dr. Rockquemore’s advice to develop a “rage practice” (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!) or simply focus on doing what matters, I urge you to engage in at least one self-care practice this summer. Establish it as a habit now so that you can fall back on that  habit when the Fall semester brings its nonstop action and chaos.

As always, we welcome your input. If you would like to see us address a specific issue or concern in future issues of the Quarterly, or if you would like to volunteer a blog post or essay, simply email us at Our goal is to feature the breadth of our discipline, from community colleges to teaching intensive to research intensive institutions.

Finally, we hope to see you at the 2021 Department Chairs’ Networking Luncheon at the 2021 APSA Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Seattle, Washington from September 30 – October 3, 2021. Keep an eye on the Departmental Services website for more details!

Be well, Holley Tankersley

Holley Tankersley, a political scientist with research and teaching expertise in public policy and political institutions, is Associate Provost of Strategic Initiatives and Faculty Development at Coastal Carolina University. You can see her entire bio here.


In This Issue

Robin Kolodny

I’ve been asked to write about how chairs might best use their time over the summer.  This suggests you have free time (!). Still, most of us do have a moment when the email requests slow down, and you can take a look at the landscape of what you finished and what you might do to make things work better in the fall...

Steven Rathgeb Smith

Greetings!  I hope you and your family are healthy and OK in these challenging times.  I am grateful for the opportunity to update you on programmatic developments at APSA, especially as it pertains to the concerns and priorities of department chairs...

Melissa R. Michelson
Patricia Stapleton

The discipline of political science and academia more generally continue to evade fully realizing gender equity. Women are disproportionately burdened with service commitments, experience systematic bias in their student evaluations of teaching (SETs), and face institutional barriers to effective performance in their professional responsibilities. Department chairs can play an active role in mitigating these challenges and supporting the women in their departments...

Phillip Ardoin

Completing the annual evaluation of faculty is one of the most important responsibilities of a Department Chair. The annual evaluation impacts faculty merit pay and is a critical role in a faculty member’s tenure and promotion process. While the role of annual evaluations vary across campuses, for many departments one or more negative annual evaluations can significantly decrease the likelihood of a successful tenure and promotion vote for a junior faculty member....

Cammy Shay

The shocks of the pandemic can color the way we reflect on the experiences of the past 16-months. Still, without sounding too Pollyannaish, I’ve considered the constructive lessons we’ve learned in my department after being thrust into the new—and completely different—pandemic normal. The lessons are many...

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