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Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Chairs Institute - Learning Opportunities

Leading from the Middle

The Chairs Institute is based on the premise that leaders best learn how to be leaders from each other. Creativity in leadership is enhanced by mixing leaders from diverse fields, experience levels and interests.

Balancing roles

A department chair or faculty leader position can be an interesting and exciting opportunity... or it can be a thankless task that is passed amongst the faculty, with everyone reluctantly taking their turn. The two sides of this coin are partly a result of the milieu in which we operate.

The Chair is a colleague who values and wants to preserve a sense of collegiality, however in order for departments, faculties and institutions to function, by necessity the role is also managerial in nature. Providing a managerial function in a collegial culture is not always easy or respected, but it is expected by administrators within our institutions.

Institutional culture

Each institution is unique and has its own culture. Each faculty, school or department will also have its own unique flavour. The breadth of scope, role and responsibilities that faculty leaders have within a specific institution can be quite diverse. There is no hard and fast set of rules for how they should function. However, there are best practices that can inform us and make the task of leading from the middle not only achievable, but also a rewarding experience.

Reflect and improve your skills

The Chairs Institutes were created to provide an opportunity for faculty leaders to improve their skills, to ponder and (if appropriate) adjust their methods, behaviours, and attitudes as leaders. They are based on the premise that leaders best learn how to be leaders from each other. Creativity in leadership is enhanced by mixing leaders from diverse fields, experience levels and interests.

Institute goals

  • promote an attitude of introspection and self-appraisal by providing a relaxed setting and straight-forward process whereby participants can seriously review and contemplate their attitudes, methods, and behaviours as leaders
  • practice rational analysis of leadership challenges and to develop realistic, creative approaches to their solutions
  • stimulate the exchange of information and ideas by building an expanding network of communication among faculty leaders within the institution

Retreat format

The Chairs Institute is a retreat and participants commit to staying at the Honeymoon Bay Retreat Centre for the duration of the retreat. Accommodation and meals are provided. Sessions run in the morning, afternoon and evening, with appropriate breaks. Prior to the retreat, participants are asked to do some structured reflection about their role as a leader to prepare for the event. Further details are provided to participants prior to the start of the Institute.

Please contact Jacquie Conway at if you have any questions about the retreat.

Offered bi-annually

Next session: June 2020, Cowichan Lake, BC

Professional Development Funding

For CCFA members, the fee is considered a pre-approved activity and covered by in-house funding. This means that a CCFA member’s short-term PD allocation is not impacted.

For BCGEU, please check with your PD committee for funding assistance.

"Clear, collaborative, creative, fun, thoughtful, well organized, honoring, inspiring, holistic, basically…awesome!"

2016 seminar participant

"We have this amazing opportunity to share our expertise and feel a sense of belonging and support in our role as chairs and humans navigating the complexities of work and life."

2016 seminar participant

"Thank you for the opportunity to meet other colleagues in a setting that allows us to share ideas and speak honestly."

2016 seminar participant

"The best thing about this workshop was: Building relationships. Strengths and challenges. Small group discussions. Being together with colleagues from diverse disciplines in a beautiful and nurturing setting."

2016 seminar participant

Wondering what other learning opportunities CETL offers? See the full list.

Contact Us
Camosun College Lansdowne
3100 Foul Bay Rd
Victoria BC V8P 5J2
Camosun College Interurban
4461 Interurban Rd
Victoria BC V9E 2C1
  • 250–370–3000
  • 1–877–554–7555 (toll-free)

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