Printer Friendly Version Of American Sociological Association: Department Chair Conference


August 16, 2012. 8:00am - 5:30pm
Preliminary Agenda 
Pre-registration and fee payment required.
Continental breakfast, and lunch 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.

Register Here

2012 Department Chairs Conference

Theme: The Academic Department as a Real Utopia: Clear-headed approaches to an idealistic endeavor


When sociologists agree to take on the role of Department Chair their reasons are generally "positive in nature and often altruistic in character – to have an impact, personal challenge, protect the department, mentor faculty" (Tiemann and Van Valey 2010).  But optimism is far from enough.  Don Chu, in The Department Chair Primer (2006) puts it this way: "Navigating academic units through difficult times requires the sensitivity of an artist, the quantitative skills of an accountant, the vision of a scout on constant reconnaissance, and a moral philosopher's sense of what is right." 

This year the ASA Department Chairs Conference will examine the concept of "Real Utopias" in the context of departments of sociology.  Conference participants will have the opportunity to discuss the very real and often apparently intractable challenges they face, and then to consider ideas for innovation that have the potential to generate positive change. 

The Conference Key Note address will be delivered by the 2012 ASA President, Erik Olin Wright, who observed in his book Envisioning Real Utopias, that "the actual limits of what is achievable depend in part on the beliefs people hold about what sorts of alternatives are viable."

In addition to plenary presentations, the conference will also include three sessions of concurrent roundtables.  Each roundtable will address the general theme as applied to a practical concern, including making program assessment useful, budgeting in a tough financial environment, supporting professional ethics among faculty and students, attracting majors and graduate students, supporting faculty productivity, and responding to incivility in the workplace.  Roundtable topics are strategically scheduled to allow Chairs from the full range of academic institutions—from PhD-granting to BA-liberal arts—to find topics in each session that respond to their context.

Year after year, ASA Chairs Conference evaluations indicate that this pre-Annual Meeting event offers a unique opportunity for sociology department leaders to talk with their counterparts in similar departments facing similar challenges, and a valued source of strategic insight and professional renewal. 

2012 Chairs Conference Keynote Speaker:

Erik Olin Wright Photo








Erik Olin Wright, University of Wisconsin-Madison and 2012 President, American Sociological Association/documents/website%20version%20CHAIRS%20program%20%202012.pdf.pdf