Printer Friendly Version Of American Sociological Association: 2011 Department Chairs Conference

Chairs Conference Agenda


August 19, 2011. 8:30am - 5:30pm
Pre-registration and fee payment required.
Continental breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks included in registration.

About the Chairs Conference

New and current chairs at all types of academic institutions are invited to attend the ASA Department Chairs Conference. Topics rotate annually and may include everything from budget management to conflict resolution to the PhD job market. The Conference is held the day prior to the start of the Annual Meeting.

2011 Department Chairs Conference

Theme: Social Conflict in Higher Education: Critical Implications and Effective Responses for Departments of Sociology


Based on their structural position within institutions, department chairs find themselves at the nexus of multiple lines of conflict.  Some forms of conflict could be defined as "normal" components of the role: conflicts over personalities, promotions, grades, course schedules, and marginal changes in resource allocations.  These are difficult to handle, but part and parcel of being department chair.  Beyond these "normal" conflicts, conditions in high education today are creating an additional layer of contestation in many institutions, and as a result handling conflict as a department chair has become even more complicated.  The economic down turn, combined with new rules for colleges and universities from the Department of Education, demands for greater access as well as higher completion rates, and increasing evidence of limited student learning in many colleges and universities all have profound implications for departments of sociology. 

This year the Chairs Conference will focus on handling conflict as a department chair.  The conference will open with a key note address by Mitchell Stevens, Stanford University whose talk, "Organized Anarchies in an Age of Accountability,"will discuss the multiple currents of conflict in higher education today and their implications for sociology departments and their chairs.  In addition to plenary presentations, the conference will also include three sessions of concurrent roundtables.  Each roundtable will address aspects of the general theme, including how to protect threatened departments, how to handle inappropriate faculty conduct, and tips for setting course schedules with the least departmental friction and heat. 

Post-conference evaluations suggest that for many participants, the Chairs Conference is a crucial opportunity to talk with their counterparts in similar departments facing similar challenges, and a valued source of professional renewal and strategic insight. 

2011 Chairs Conference Keynote Speaker:

Image of Michell L. Stevens Mitchell L. Stevens is Associate Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology at Stanford University, where he also serves as Director of the Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research (SCANCOR).  He is an organizational sociologist with longstanding interest in the quantification of educational processes, alternative organizational forms, and the formal organization of knowledge.  His second book, Creating a Class:  College Admissions and the Education of Elites (Harvard, 2007), received the Pierre Bourdieu Award of the Education Section of the ASA, and the Mirra Komarovsky Award of the Eastern Sociological Society.  He currently is principal investigator on a three-year project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on the changing organization of broad-access colleges and universities in the United States.