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Humanities Department Chair

Head up the humanities department of a university.

What does a Humanities Department Chair do?

The Humanities Department Chair is the head of the humanities department at a college or university. If an individual school (for example, the College of Arts and Sciences) were a family tree, the Dean would be at the top, acting as patriarch. At the bottom, meanwhile, would be academic offspring: Professors. The branches in between would represent Department Chairs, one of whom would be the Humanities Department Chair.

When you’re the Humanities Department Chair, you head the department encompassing all subjects related to human culture, including English and history, for example, as well as art, music, philosophy, religion, and foreign languages, among many other subjects. You’re the most senior Humanities Professor at the school, and as such, you have all the typical duties of a Professor. For instance, you teach classes, give lectures, assign homework, and grade exams, not to mention conduct research and write scholarly papers, articles, and books in your field of expertise (which, of course, is humanities).

As a Department Chair, however, you have duties that go above and beyond those of a regular Professor. Among your chief responsibilities, for example, are planning course offerings, designing curriculums, and preparing class schedules. You also advise students, respond to student appeals and complaints, and manage student admissions, transfers, and graduations.

In addition, you supervise and evaluate the Professors in your department, hire Adjunct Professors and Graduate Assistants, and recruit faculty and students. And on top of all that, you manage your department’s budget.

Reporting to the Dean, you’re like a General in charge of an academic army: You draft the humanities department’s plan of attack, then you manage and coordinate its execution.