n Africa Education Review - Reflections on the role of the departmental chairperson at a South African university

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1814-6627



In this article a description is given of some personal reflection on the challenges, complexities, responsibilities and expected performance that faced the author on becoming a departmental chairperson at a South African university. It was a daunting task, essentially because there were no leadership training programmes to provide support. The lack of institutional development plans was an acute shortcoming. This is a worldwide trend where departmental chairs are very seldom trained to meet the new demands that face them. Self-empowerment seems to be the most likely route. <BR>Although much has been written on departmental leadership, this is not sufficient, as theoretical training in, or underpinning, leadership alone cannot replace true experience and training. It seems unreasonable that departmental chairs be assessed as part of the institutional process of performance assessment if they have little or no experience and no access to developmental programmes.

This article, which describes the context in which the author had to act as chairperson, gives an overview of some of the literature on the functions of the departmental chairperson. This is followed by a brief reflection on these functions as well as a description of an assessment instrument that the author developed to assist in the process of performance assessment of departmental chairpersons.

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