DEAR DEPARTMENT CHAIR
WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Practical and candid, this book offers actionable steps to help Black women leaders create meaningful success. The reflections and recommendations of the Black women in academic leadership who have contributed letters to this collection forge a critical and transformative analysis of race, gender, and higher education leadership. With insights from humanities, social sciences, art, and STEM, this essential resource helps redefine the academy to meet the challenges of the future.
Dear Department Chair is comprised of personal letters from prominent Black women department chairs, deans, vice provosts, and university presidents, addressed to current and future Black women academic professionals, and offers a rich source of peer mentorship and professional development. These letters emerged from Chair at the Table, a research collective and peer-mentoring network of current and former Black women department chairs at colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada. The collective’s works, including this volume, serve as tools for faculty interested in administration, current chairs seeking mentorship, and upper-level administrators working to diversify their ranks.
Stephanie Y. Evans, PhD, is Full Professor in the Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and affiliate faculty of the Department of Africana Studies at Georgia State University. She served twelve consecutive years as department chair, from 2010–22. Her research and previously published works focus on Black women’s intellectual history, memoirs, and mental health. She is the Founder and Co-Chair of the Chair at the Table Research Collective.
Stephanie G. Adams, PhD, is Dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas and served as President of the American Society for Engineering Education in 2019–20. Her research in broadening participation, team effectiveness, and quality control have been funded by the National Science Foundation for almost two decades and has been published widely in related scholarly journals.
Stephanie Shonekan, PhD, is Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research and publications investigate race, identity, African American music, and movements of resistance. She was a founding co-director of the Michael A. Middleton Center for Race, Citizenship, and Justice at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
Foreword: Johnnetta Betsch Cole, President Emerita Spelman College and Bennet College
Afterword: Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, Vanderbilt University
Stephanie Adams, University of Texas at Dallas
Stephanie Y. Evans, Georgia State University
Tiffany Gilbert, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Carol E. Henderson, Emory University
Regine Jean-Charles, Northeastern University
Eunice Myles Jeffries, Eastern Michigan University
Julia S. Jordan-Zachery, Wake Forest University
Sandra Jowers-Barber, University of the District of Columbia
April C. E. Langley, University of South Carolina
Janaka B. Lewis, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Theresa Rajack-Talley, Dalhousie University, Canada
Stephanie Shonekan, University of Maryland
Colette M. Taylor, Seattle University
Palimpsest journal is a peer-reviewed journal that publishes cutting edge interdisciplinary scholarship and creative work by and about women of the African Diaspora and their communities in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds. A partnership between Vanderbilt University’s African American and Diaspora Studies Program and the State University of New York (SUNY) Press, the journal is published twice a year and accepts submissions on a rolling basis.
In summer 2021, Dr. Stephanie Evans published an article titled, "Meditations from a Black Woman Chair: Social Justice Values and a New Normal for Academic Administration" in The Department Chair journal (32.1, pp. 12-14). In the article, she argues for enhanced support for department chairs, starting with providing a clear job description and open recognition of the monumental workload the position requires. She offers a map of her values and leadership philosophy to help campuses work toward a more sustainable balance for chairs.
Based on over a decade of experience at three institutions, she wrote, "in this article I offer my administrative philosophy using Toni Morrison’s framework (examine, evaluate, posit, and reinforce) to outline my values. I hope this exercise proves helpful to faculty who take on the challenging role of department chair in the future." She shows how the values of history, health and humanity guide her work.
As part of the article, Dr. Evans offers a detailed job description of tasks and skills inherent in the department chair role (accountabilities and responsibilities). This comprehensive outline clarifies the role for department chairs, students, faculty, administrators, staff, and others around the campus community. [See picture or Chair Resources PDF below for details.]
Written for academic administrators, this award-winning periodical features in-depth articles that deliver sound insight and proven strategies essential for successfully leading an academic department. A unique resource for chairs, deans, academic vice presidents, and other administrators, The Department Chair delivers practical information in every issue. Written by practitioners from their own experience, this newsletter is invaluable to anyone responsible for a department in any institution of higher education. Each issue includes original articles by experienced academic leaders on a wide range of subjects, such as: