UW-Madison’s Jerlando F.L. Jackson recently wrote an op-ed on the pros and cons of being a department chair for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Jackson is the Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and the chair of the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. He is also the director and chief research scientist of Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
Jackson walks through his decision-making process, revealing that at first, he wasn’t entirely sure about taking on the position. Starting with the question, “Can I do the job well,” Jackson tells the Chronicle he sought out the opinions of his family, his colleagues, and former chairs to discover more about the position and how it would affect his other work.
In this op-ed, Jackson offers seven criteria to others facing what he terms the “to chair or not to chair” conundrum. These criteria include nature of the appointment, workflow, job benefits, responsibilities and commitments, major projects, office environment, and documents to review.
Although Jackson writes that he decided being a department chair wouldn’t help his research career, ultimately he took the position for one reason: to be a good departmental citizen. He explains that “collegiality is only a reality when all members of a department share in carrying out its responsibilities and obligations.” After almost a year as a department chair, Jackson adds that his experience has reinforced his original reason for saying yes.
Read the entire op-ed on this this Chronicle of Higher Education web page.