SHU Chairperson to Be Published in Academic Journal, Discussing Changing Role of Chairs Over the Decades

Domenick Pinto

News Story: March 25, 2013

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – This summer, the journal The Department Chair will publish a paper written by Domenick Pinto, associate professor and chair of Computer Science and Information Technology at Sacred Heart University.

The paper, “Leading Faculty Through Times of Change: The Chair’s Evolving Role,” reviews how the job of a college department chair has changed over the past couple of decades. Pinto is an authority on the subject, having served in his role as chair at SHU for 25 years, an impressively long tenure for someone in such a position.

“I essentially wanted to compare what it was like in 1987 when I started as a chair and what it’s like in 2013, and it is an incredible difference,” Pinto says. “Initially I saw the chair’s role as somebody who would lead the curriculum, handle scheduling, evaluate faculty, advise students and not a lot beyond that. A chair still does all those things, but now you’re also really involved in so many other areas as well. You have a hand in recruiting, budget, designing new programs and also administrative-type duties. You’re just more intimately involved with so much more compared to what it was 25 years ago.”

Pinto says another difference over the years is the increasing need to work with students’ parents. “I think of the term ‘helicopter parents,’ ” he says. “They’re sort of hovering around the students a lot more. That started around the year 2000, and it’s still pretty prevalent. That’s not necessarily bad from an educational perspective; it’s just another new aspect to the educator’s job.”

The paper also offers insight into why some people desire to chair academic departments, information gleaned from surveys Pinto conducted among his colleagues at other colleges.

Pinto originally wrote the paper to present at the Academic Chairpersons Conference held in February in San Antonio, where it was well received. “I was quite surprised, because I felt like I was pretty much talking about my own experiences,” Pinto says. “But a lot of people came to hear me. It feels good that they would be interested in listening to what I have to say about my experiences, and I’m happy to share that.”

The Department Chair will publish a shortened version of the original paper in its summer issue.

According to its website, The Department Chair is written for academic administrators and “features in-depth articles that deliver sound insight and proven strategies essential for successfully leading an academic department.” It is produced by Wiley-Blackwell, publisher of nearly 1,500 peer-reviewed journals.