You probably already have an idea of what makes for good meetings: a well-planned agenda and productive and cordial discussions that lead to clear outcomes. Refreshments can help too. Establishing a schedule early in the academic year for regular meetings (once a month, at a minimum) is crucial. Make sure everyone in the department knows and agrees to the schedule; building consensus and developing departmental collegiality depend upon everyone participating in the department’s affairs.
Tips for effective department meetings:
  • Set and send out a clear agenda at least a day before the meeting. Invite others to add agenda items, but make sure that the items are important enough for collective discussion, and that there is sufficient time. Organize the agenda so that the most important items are certain to get discussed.

  • Set a clear beginning and end time for the meeting. You may consider setting end times for specific agenda items so that you can be sure to get to all important topics. Start and end on time.

  • Take notes or minutes, or assign someone to do this, so that action items and decisions get recorded and preserved. Your AOA can be asked to take minutes if work hours permit.

  • If your department does not already have these, establish some basic ground rules for discussion at the first meeting. For example: being recognized by the chair before speaking; making sure everyone has a say on each important decision; no one should monopolize discussion or filibuster; if tempers flare, there will be an automatic 5-minute break.

  • If possible, set some goals for the year: allocation request, external review, curriculum change, working with other departments or programs, reaching out to new students, etc.

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