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The Higher Education Department Chair Academy (Chair Academy) provides practical and detailed training essential to overseeing academic departments to department chairs, assistant department chairs, school directors, deans and core curriculum coordinators who are new to relatively new in the position (those starting their first or second year). This academy covers the 'nuts and bolts' of chairing an academic department.

The Chair Academy involves a workshop-style approach that takes place over five multi-day sessions throughout the summer and fall. Participants will be provided leadership development to manage the programs, personnel and advancement of their departments. The Chair Academy  includes small group discussions, peer-to-peer collaboration, lessons learned through experience and documenting experiences through a department chair leadership manual. It is facilitated  with hands-on coaching by an experienced team of academic leaders who collectively have over 25 years of department leadership experience. The Chair Academy was established in 2009 through the Educators' Leadership Academy (ELA) at UCO.

Academy Goals

  • Explore techniques for leading within the department/school and university culture.
  • Learn about and apply effective hiring methodologies.
  • Examine the relationship between effective planning and budgeting.
  • Cultivate a range of leadership skills and abilities such as effectively managing change and conflict, understanding group dynamics, building trust and motivating others.
  • Gain exposure and skills to navigate human resource issues facing educational institutions.
  • Develop curriculum maps that contribute to effective course schedule planning.
  • Network with other higher education professionals for future collaborations and to share best practices.

Academy Outcomes

  • You will be trained in managing and leading an academic department.
  • You will take away a more complete understanding of how your behavior and responsibilities impact peers, direct reports, supervisors and other important key stakeholders.
  • You will create your own department chair leadership journal to note important insights and details specific to your leadership situation.
  • You will have confidence in navigating the hiring process from the development of position descriptions to bombarding.
  • You will have an expanded network of colleagues and professionals in higher education.

Session Format

  • Workshop-style
  • Small group discussions
  • Scenarios and case studies
  • Facilitated discussion questions

Participant Responsibilities for Successful Completion

  • Before each session, participants will be given reading lists or a case study and a short list of questions that they should ask. During the session, participants will have an opportunity to network with each other and share their solutions and answers to questions.
  • Participants will submit interviews and reflections from each session, along with completing their chair department leadership manual.
  • Attendance is mandatory for the successful completion of the Chair Academy. Absence from more than 10 educational hours (the accumulation of partial sessions that equals 10 hours) will result in the participant being withdrawn from the program with no portion of the tuition refunded.

Academy Presenters

  • Bob Brennan, Ph.D. has been a biology professor since 2018 and associate dean of the college of Mathematics and Science since 2020 at UCO. He joined UCO's faculty in 2009 and served as the Chair of the Department of Biology from 2015 to 2020.
  • Katrina Lacher, Ph.D. has been a United States history and environmental history professor since 2022 and Chair of the Department of History and Geography since 2018 at UCO. Lacher joined UCO's faculty in 2011.
  • Elizabeth Maier, Ph.D. has been a professor for the School of Criminal Justice since 2011 and director since 2018 at UCO. She joined UCO's faculty in 2011.
  • Luis Montes, Ph.D. has been a chemistry professor since 2009 and Chair of the Department of Chemistry since 2012 at UCO and joined the faculty in 2000.

2023 Higher Education Department Chair Academy Session Dates and Topics

The Role of the Department Chair

1-8 p.m., Tuesday, May 23
9 a.m.-4 p.m., Wednesday, May 24
9 a.m.-Noon, Thursday, May 25
UCO, Edmond, OK

  • The Chair Academy Program Overview
    • Academy Resources
    • Department Chair Leadership Manual
  • Transitioning to Leading Colleagues
    • Personal Career Path
    • Negotiating Shifting Colleague, Supervisor and Leader Roles
  • Personnel Processes
    • Conducting Evaluations
    • Professional Development
    • Succession Planning
    • Human Resources (FMLA, Individual Performance Plans and Accommodations)
  • Academic Leaders' Panel Interview

Department Management

6-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 27
9 a.m.-4 p.m., Wednesday, June 28
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK

  • Department Management
    • Policy and Procedures
    • Politics
  • Effective Conflict Engagement
    • Students
    • Colleagues


6-8:30 p.m., Thursday, July 27
9 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday, July 28
LX Studios, Oklahoma City, OK

  • Curriculum Processes and Development
    • Curriculum Mapping
    • Building Course Schedules
    • Assessment
    • Course Coverage

Strategic Planning

6-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14
9 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15
UCO, Edmond, OK

  • Strategic Planning
    • Budgeting
    • Funding Sources
    • Program Review

Employee Transitions

6-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 2
9 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 3
UCO, Edmond, OK

  • Hiring and Separations
    • Job Posting
    • Recruiting
    • Interviewing
    • Selection Criteria - Staff and Faculty
    • Onboarding
    • Terminations
  • Connecting with ELA
    • Linked-In
    • Alumni Network
  • ELA Chair Academy Graduation


We apologize, our site has experienced some technical difficulties for credit card payments. The Early Bird Deadline has been extended to March 31, 2023.

Early-bird Registration Fee: $2,499, includes meals, lodging and instructional materials for each session, ends March 31, 2023.
Regular Registration Fee: $3,000 includes meals, lodging and instructional materials, April 1 - May 1, 2023.
Participants are responsible for their own transportation to the session locations.

Register Via Credit Card

Register With a Purchase Order

Registrants prepaying with a university/college credit card may print the ELA Prepayment Authorization Form for your records. 


Mary Howard, M.B.A.
Director, Educators' Leadership Academy
Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning (CETTL)
University of Central Oklahoma
100 N. University Drive, CTL 102, Campus Box 212; Edmond, OK 73034
Phone: 405-974-5561 Fax: 405-974-3922