The Department Chair

Cover image for Vol. 27 Issue 3

Edited By: Carolyn Allard

Online ISSN: 1936-4393

Meet the Advisory Board


Jeffrey L. Buller

Jeffrey L Buller

Jeffrey L. Buller is dean of the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University. He began his administrative career as honors director and chair of the Department of Classical Studies at Loras College before going on to assume several administrative appointments at Georgia Southern University and Mary Baldwin College. Buller is the author of six books on higher education administration, one book on opera, and numerous articles, essays, and reviews on topics ranging from ancient literature to modern organizational leadership. From 2003 to 2005 Buller served as the principal English-language lecturer at the International Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany. More recently, he has been active as a consultant to the Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez in Puerto Rico and to the Ministry of Higher Education in Saudi Arabia, where he is assisting with the creation of a national Academic Leadership Center. He is cofounder of Academic Training, Leadership, and Assessment Services.

Don Chu

Don Chu

Don Chu is professor and former dean of the School of Education at National University. He has also served as dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Services at California State University, San Marcos, and dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of West Florida. He earned his bachelor's degree from Oberlin College, and his master's in sociology and Ph.D. in education from Stanford University. Chu has written and edited five books and numerous articles on higher education, sports, and the Olympic Games. From 1988 to 1998 he chaired the Department of Kinesiology at California State University,­ Chico, and served as consultant for chair affairs in the Office of the Provost from 1998 to 1999. He was the California State University (CSU) System Executive Fellow in the Office of the Chancellor from 1999 to 2000, and completed the Harvard Management Development Program. Working in collaboration with the CSU Statewide Academic Senate, the Office of the Chancellor, and Dr. Sally Veregge, he conducted the twenty-campus CSU Department Chair Survey (2002) and wrote the associate report. He is the founder of Academic Leadership Consulting.

Edna B. Chun

Edna Chun

Edna B. Chun is an educational leader and award-winning author with more than two decades of strategic human resource and diversity leadership experience in public higher education. Her research focuses on academic and administrative leadership and diversity. She has coauthored seven books and numerous articles in leading human resources and diversity journals. Her recent coauthored book, The Department Chair as Transformative Diversity Leader, is the first book to address the role of the department chair in diversity and to provide a research-based, systematic approach to diversity leadership in the academic department. Two of Chun’s books, Are the Walls Really Down? Behavioral and Organizational Barriers to Faculty and Staff Diversity, coauthored with Alvin Evans (Jossey-Bass 2007), and Bridging the Diversity Divide: Globalization and Reciprocal Empowerment in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass 2009), received the prestigious Kathryn G. Hansen Publication Award by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources for their contribution to the human resources profession. Chun and Evans’ coauthored book, The New Talent Acquisition Frontier: Integrating HR and Diversity Strategy in the Private and Public Sectors and Higher Education (Stylus 2014), also received a silver medal in the 2014 Axiom Business Book Awards and is the first book to provide a concrete road map to the integration of human resources and diversity strategy. Chun is a frequent invited presenter at national conferences and seminars and serves as an editorial board member on national association and publication boards. She holds the Doctor of Music degree with High Distinction from the Indiana University School of Music and currently serves as chief learning officer for HigherEd Talent, a national diversity and human resources consulting firm.

Robert Cipriano

Robert Cipriano

Robert Cipriano received his PhD from New York University in therapeutic recreation with an area of emphasis in college teaching and curriculum construction. He has published five textbooks, has contributed chapters in three textbooks, and has published more than 170 journal articles and manuscripts. Cipriano is the author of the Jossey-Bass book Facilitating a Collegial Department in Higher Education: Strategies for Success. He has been invited to deliver more than two hundred presentations in the United States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia, and he has been the recipient of more than $9 million in federal, state, and foundation grants. Cipriano served as a department chair for twenty-eight of his thirty-six years in higher education. His research interests are in collegiality and civility in higher education, demographics of department chairs (in which he has surveyed more than two thousand chairs since 2007), access to higher education for individuals with disabilities, conflict management, and future careers in higher education. Cipriano has been invited to present workshops on collegiality and conflict management to department chairs and deans at many two- and four-year higher education institutions. He is cofounder of Academic Training, Leadership, and Assessment Services.

R. Kent Crookston

R. Kent Crookston

R. Kent Crookston’s PhD in plant physiology is from the University of Minnesota. He held postdoctoral positions with Agriculture Canada and Cornell University, then researched and taught at the University of Minnesota for twenty-five years. He was head of the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at Minnesota (1990–1998) and dean of the College of Biology and Agriculture at Brigham Young University (BYU) (1998–2005). Since 2007, he has directed the Academic Administrative Support Program at the BYU Faculty Center. In addition to researching academic administration he researches and teaches effective decision making. He has written numerous professional and popular articles on various subjects, and on four occasions won the Excellence in Agricultural Journalism Award from the American Society of Agronomy. He is author of the book Working with Problem Faculty: A Six-Step Guide for Department Chairs.

From 1988 to 2002, Crookston was the founding director of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (a research and educational partnership of faculty, farmers, politicians, and activist groups). At Minnesota he co-founded a national program on researching and teaching decision cases in agriculture and directed an undergraduate educational reform project with a grant from the McKnight Foundation. At BYU he directed a complete reinvention and restructuring of the college of 100 faculty and 2,500 students.

Crookston served as resident coordinator (1984–1986) of a USAID development project in Morocco (assisting in the establishment of a major agricultural university). From 1999 to 2007, he co-directed a project to improve the health and economy of a rural region in the Middle Atlas Mountains. He has consulted with research and educational institutions in Armenia, Ecuador, England, France, Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, the Philippines, Rwanda, and Senegal.

Crookston is a fellow of the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy, and the holder, since 1999, of an honorary professorship at the Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II, in Rabat, Morocco.


Jon K. Dalager

Jon K. Dalager

Jon K. Dalager is system director for academic programs at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. He is former dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences at Wayne State College, and prior to that appointment, he served for eleven years as chair of the Department of Political Science at Georgetown College, where he earned the rank of full professor and taught classes in American politics and government. Dalager received his law degree from the University of Minnesota and his PhD in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He has been licensed to practice law in Minnesota, North Dakota, Illinois, and Kentucky and has been admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts in those jurisdictions. Dalager has published research in the area of campaigns, elections, and electoral behavior, and has contributed articles to The Department Chair in the area of legal issues for chairs.


Walter Gmelch

Walter Gmelch

Walter Gmelch is a professor in the Department of Leadership Studies and former dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco. He is one of higher education’s leading researchers in the study of academic leaders—particularly chairs and deans. He earned his MBA from UC–Berkeley and his Ph.D. from UC–Santa Barbara. He is the author of Chairing an Academic Department, Leadership Skills for Department Chairs, The Department Chair as Academic Leader, The Changing Nature of the Academic Dean, Deans’ Balancing Acts, College Deans: Leading from Within, and Seasons of a Dean's Life.


Susan Hatfield

Susan Hatfield

Susan Hatfield is professor of communication studies at Winona State University. She served nine years as chair of that department and for twelve years as the assessment coordinator. She is a visiting scholar with the Higher Learning Commission and serves as a peer evaluator for that organization. Hatfield presents numerous workshops on assessment and accreditation at state, regional, and national conferences and consults with individual departments and universities on related issues.


Craig Hlavac

Craig Hlavac

Craig Hlavac is associate professor and chair of the music department at Southern Connecticut State University. He received Bachelor of Arts in music and Bachelor of Science in music education degrees from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Music degree from Yale University, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership from the University of Hartford. A frequent clinician and presenter, Hlavac has delivered presentations throughout the Northeastern United States and across the country, including several presentations at the annual Academic Chairpersons Conference. Hlavac’s research interests include the impact of the organizational mission on the decision making of educational leaders, the use of organizational and departmental missions to prioritize decision making, and the utility of mission-based management in the administration of the contemporary university.

Mary Lou Higgerson

Mary Lou Higgerson

Mary Lou Higgerson is the recipient of eight teaching awards including being named Distinguished Teacher in 1997 at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is a seasoned academic administrator with more than thirty-five years of experience with service at both large, public doctoral-granting and small private, liberal arts institutions, and has held administrative appointments at every level of the institution from department chair to system office. From 2005 through spring of 2012, she served on the Board of Trustees at Elmhurst College.

Higgerson holds a PhD from the University of Kansas where she studied and conducted research in organizational communication. Her selection as an American Council on Education Fellow in 1986–1987 propelled her to move her consulting and research interests from the corporate world to higher education administration. Combining her knowledge of communication with her administrative experience, Higgerson’s focus in her writing, consulting, and professional development activities is on leadership communication as it supports effective leadership at all levels of higher education administration. Kansas State University presented Higgerson with the Bill E. Cashin Distinguished Service Award for “Outstanding Service to the Academic Chairpersons Conference and the Study of Academic Administration.”

Since 1990, she has taught on a variety of leadership communication topics for the American Council on Education in national and campus leadership seminars offered through the Center for Leadership Development. Higgerson has authored Communication Strategies for Managing Conflict: A Guide for Academic Leaders (Jossey-Bass 2016) and Communication Skills for Department Chairs (Jossey-Bass 1996) and has coauthored Effective Leadership Communication: A Survival Guide for Department Chairs and College Deans (Jossey-Bass 2007), coauthored The Administrative Portfolio: Practical Guide to Improved Administrative Performance and Personnel Decisions (Jossey-Bass 2002), and coauthored Complexities of Higher Education Administration: Case Studies and Issues (Jossey-Bass, 1993). She worked with Irene Hecht and Walt Gmelch to write The Department Chair as Academic Leader (ACE/Oryx Press 1999). She has coproduced training videos on communication strategies relevant for higher education administrators and has written articles that have appeared in such publications as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Journal of College and University Personnel Association, Continuing Higher Education Review, and The Department Chair.

N. Douglas Lees

N. Douglas Lees

N. Douglas Lees is professor of biology and associate dean for planning and finance at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. From February 1992 to September 2010 he served as chair of the Department of Biology. He also holds appointments as an adjunct professor of biomedical engineering and as a member (now emeritus) of the founding faculty of University College. He has been active on several campus projects and committees focused on student retention and graduation rates including work in improving student success in Gateway courses, the development of the freshman work program, and in establishing career-based internships for students in the health sciences. In 1993, he developed a one-year MS program for students seeking to enhance their credentials for admission to professional schools in the life sciences. That program has since had nearly seven hundred graduates, with almost four hundred of those being successful in earning professional school admission. Lees has been nationally active on several higher education topics such as department staffing, post-tenure review, faculty evaluation, and fostering change. He has published widely on these and other topics related to department leadership and has authored Chairing Academic Departments: Traditional and Emerging Expectations (2006, Jossey-Bass). Lees holds a BA in biology from Providence College and a PhD from Northwestern University with a specialty in microbiology. His disciplinary research interests have been in the areas of fungal sterol biosynthesis and regulation as related to the identification of new targets for the discovery and development of novel antifungal compounds.

Juston C. Pate

Juston C. Pate

Juston C. Pate has served as the chief academic officer at Maysville Community and Technical College since 2008. Maysville is a comprehensive community college with three campuses and two extensions, serving a nineteen-county region as part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

Pate has worked as an academic administrator for the past twelve years. He has experience in the fields of general education and technical education at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, with service ranging from English instruction to years as a principal of a secondary technical education school.

Pate has experienced multiple levels of higher education, receiving an associate degree from a two-year college, a baccalaureate degree from a private liberal arts college, a master's degree from a regional university, and his Ph.D. from the University of Louisville in educational leadership and organizational development.

Alan T. Seagren

Alan T. Seagren

Alan T. Seagren is professor emeritus and director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He has been a faculty member, chair and dean, and senior administrator in both academic and business affairs. His research has focused on chairs and departments, and he has provided seminars and workshops to chairs and other administrators.

Kelly Ward

Kelly Ward

Kelly Ward was named chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology at Washington State University in 2011, after serving as interim chair for a year. While at WSU, she has taught administration of higher education, critical issues in higher education and student affairs, student services, seminar in higher education, and college teaching. She previously taught at Oklahoma State University and worked as an administrator and faculty member at the University of Montana.

Ward is interested in faculty issues including integration of teaching, research, and service; work and family concerns for faculty; faculty career development; and faculty diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math. She is also interested in the service role of higher education including faculty outreach and engagement.

Daniel W. Wheeler

Daniel W. Wheeler

Daniel W. Wheeler is a higher education consultant and professor emeritus of leadership studies and former head of the Department of Ag Leadership, Education, and Communications at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Previously he served as the university's coordinator of the Office of Professional and Organizational Development. He has degrees from Antioch College, Cornell, and SUNYAB. Wheeler has made numerous contributions to faculty development, chairing departments, and leadership. For example, he has coauthored The Academic Chair Handbook (2008), Academic Leadership in Community Colleges (1994), The Department Chair: New Roles, Responsibilities and Challenges (1993), and Enhancing Faculty Development: Strategies for Development and Renewal (1990), and has contributed numerous book chapters and articles on faculty development, department chairs, and leadership. Wheeler is a past president of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education and recipient of the prestigious Spirit of POD Award. He is a member of the advisory boards of the Academic Chairpersons Conference, The Department Chair, and Effective Practices for Academic Leaders. Wheeler has also been a visiting scholar in Australia and Scotland and is a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Higher Education (recently providing chair development in the Ukraine). He has taught graduate and undergraduate leadership courses with an emphasis on servant leadership. Wheeler is coauthor of the Servant Leadership Questionnaire and author of the Jossey-Bass book Servant Leadership for Higher Education: Principles and Practices. He consults and leads workshops in all of these areas in the United States and abroad.

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