My department's chair was due to renew this year. There was a search where, through an anonymous survey, short-listed candidates represented tenured faculty members with the most support from colleagues. But the search failed as all short-listed candidates ended up declining the offer. A new search committee is being formed and should it fail again, the dean will have the authority to appoint a new chair (likely an external person).

Having joined the department as a teaching-stream faculty member for six years, I just received my tenure a year ago. I chaired curriculum committees in both the departmental and faculty levels, and I have taught almost all foundational, compulsory courses in our undergraduate program.

I am now debating whether I should volunteer myself to the search committee (or to the entire faculty to gain more support in the survey). There will be standard teaching release and monetary compensation. What would be the points for me to consider? (For examples, am I just too junior to attempt this role? Should I wait until I'm "fully prepared"?)

  • 13
    Ask the past chairs for advice. Departments vary. Aug 7 at 16:40
  • 6
    Compare yourself to the shortlisted candidates. Are they all full professors? Are they research or teaching focused? What is their experience with administrative work (committees, positions)? What do they all have in common?
    – user71659
    Aug 7 at 22:10
  • 1
    Do you know why the short-listed candidates declined?
    – Teepeemm
    Aug 8 at 18:36

2 Answers 2


There are departments in which the chair position rotates on a schedule, with all tenured faculty taking their turn at the task. And it is a task. A thankless task in some places, but not all.

People turn down an offer because they see their current work as more important or they just see the chair as too much administrative work or ....

I'd suggest that letting people know you would be willing to take the job is fine, though the normal process will still be followed, I assume.

If the department is research focused, you might not be considered, I suppose, though you would be expected to support all important department objectives even if that isn't your main focus. But that is true of anyone, actually.

If the chair serves for a limited term in that capacity it would be more likely that you would be considered.

But yes, it is acceptable that you put your name in the hat.


@Buffy is right to say sure, you can let it be known that you're willing.

That said, think about why you want (or are willing to undertake) the job. Is it a good professional move for you at this moment? Will the money and release from teaching compensate for the administrative work? Do you know and respect the office staff, who will be important to you? Do you get along with the dean? Are you doing this for you or because you care about the department and the students (could be all three)?

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