Authors Gmelch and Miskin have focused their academic careers on supporting and training chairs for one of the most challenging jobs in academia. Both have written extensively and have conducted training workshops throughout the country. Here they focus their efforts on the specific skills needed by chairs in order to effectively lead their departments.
In the first chapter, authors Gmelch and Miskin, clearly assert their concern for chairs and for their work:
The time of amateur administration-where professors play musical chairs, stepping occasionally into the role of department chair-is over. Too much is at stake in this time of change and challenge to let leadership be left to chance or taking turns. The department chair position is the most critical role in the university, and the most unique management position in America....
The search for solutions to academia's leadership dilemma leads us to realize that the academic leader is the least studied and most misunderstood management position in America.
Leadership in academia has evolved into a complex array of specialized skills. For department chairs, this book becomes an individual leadership seminar, complete with strategies and exercises that will foster growth and encourage professional fulfillment.