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Engineering Impact Report

Chair in Training


The chair of an academic unit has a wide range of responsibilities - from department budgeting and scheduling classes to dealing with personal problems such as a faculty member's need for medical leave.

In the School of Engineering, a new Associate Chair Program is making the transition between department chairs run more smoothly by giving the incoming chair a full academic year to learn about their new role.

In 2017, a new succession planning policy was approved and implemented for department chairs. According to the policy, chairs will serve a four-year term with the opportunity for one re-appointment. In the seventh year an associate chair will be selected to learn the role of chair.

Eric Balster, now chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was the first faculty member to enter the Associate Chair Program in the 2017-18 academic year. He applied, was supported by colleagues and appointed by the dean.

"It was tremendously helpful to know you are going to be chair and have time to think about it," Balster said. "I initially thought a year might be too long, but it was helpful to go through a complete academic cycle and see how everything runs."

Balster joined the School's Academic Leadership Counsel, Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Committees, and had training on software used for budgeting and class scheduling. He also participated in Leadership UD, a cohort of 24 fellows who develop leadership skills and gain a more comprehensive view of the University, with Kristen Krupa-Comfort, chair of chemical and materials engineering.

"I learned that UD is not the small little University I thought it was," Balster said. "Its reach is much bigger. The Associate Chair Program and Leadership UD should be a package deal."



School of Engineering

Kettering Laboratories
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0254