Unit Head Onboarding & Training

Department heads, area heads, program directors and other unit heads have a crucial leadership role to play in the success of their students, faculty and unit as a whole. Those new in these leadership roles need new knowledge, skills and abilities and a network of campus colleagues to ensure their success. This program aims to offer the needed information in a way that is accessible to new unit heads when they need it (and to continuing unit heads to stay up to date and continue their leadership growth). This program is a combination of in-person and asynchronous learning via Community Canvas, with in person meetings engaging unit heads in the challenging and complex development of inclusive transformational leadership skills, and timely information to support their success 

Defining Success

The following are the leadership behaviors that we value in UO’s Unit Heads: 


  • Provide vision for how the department can grow and change during their time as department head. 

  • Invest in an inclusive culture, ensuring a climate in which all members of the department belong and have a voice, especially those who from communities or identities that have be historically marginalized. 

  • Ensure the curriculum is relevant, high quality, inclusive and navigable for students. 

  • Collaborate with the academic unit manager to manage the business of the department such as budget, faculty meetings, course loads, summer school, new programs etc. 

People Support

  • Support faculty success through regularly occurring clear, candid and kind communication about expectations for research, teaching or service and faculty progress towards promotion or tenure. 

  • Ensure equitable service assignments.  

  • Serve as a communication conduit between the members of your department and your dean’s office, the office of the provost and other campus partners. 

  • Support faculty, students and staff recognition through submission nominations of teaching, research, mentorship or other awards as appropriate. 

  • Support culturally responsive and network-based mentorship practices that include formal department infrastructure combined with school/college and university-wide mentorship programs. 

Policy and Procedures

  • Access, understand and follow policies and procedures described in the United Academics and GTFF CBAs, as well as University and Unit policy libraries. 

  • Evaluate professional, inclusive, engaged and research-informed teaching using the UO’s criteria-based, multi-sourced procedure. 

  • Ensure accurate procedures are followed for tenure and promotion review. 

  • Engage appropriate campus partners and dean’s office when problem arise. 

Development Opportunities for Unit Heads

All Unit Heads Meetings

Each term the Office of the Provost will offer a “Timely Updates” meeting to ensure unit heads are informed of the campus wide changes or timely information. These will be interactive with time for questions to be answered. 

The target audience includes Unit heads (department heads, program directors, school heads, associate or divisional deans etc.) but all academic leaders and academic unit managers are welcome. 

Meeting Objectives

  1. Ensure academic unit/department/program heads have the information they need. 
  2. Provide time for heads to engage in meaningful dialog with their peers, be heard by leadership, and get their questions answered. 
  3. Build a community of academic leaders who can learn from and alongside one another toward the goal of building a more inclusive and equitable academic community. 

Meeting Dates

    SeptEmber 15, 2023

    September Summit for Academic Leaders

    Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

    Summit Agenda

    October 25, 2023

    All Unit Heads Fall Timely Updates Meeting:  

    Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 

    Gerlinger Lounge, 2nd Floor Gerlinger Hall


    RSVP via MyTrack

    FEbruary 21, 2024

    All Unit Heads Winter Timely Updates Meeting

    Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

    April 24, 2024

    All Unit Heads Spring Timely Updates Meeting

    Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

New Unit Heads – Onboarding and Monthly Series 


Onboarding Day: Friday, June 16, 2023

This full day interactive event kicks off our year of programming by digging into authentic case studies and scenarios that department heads face. Academic unit managers are invited to attend alongside heads, as their closest local collaborator. The onboarding is held during finals week of spring term each year. 

Monthly meetings: First Wednesdays from October to May 

The monthly meetings will serve as a leadership development program for department heads, exploring themes across the year.

    FALL 2023

    Leading Self

    Core Values & Your Personal "Why" - October 4: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m., EMU Cedar/Spruce, rm 231/232 - RSVP via MyTrack

    Strengths-based Leadership - November 1: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m., EMU Cedar/Spruce, rm 231/232

    Inclusive Leadership - December 6: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m., EMU Cedar/Spruce, rm 231/232

    Winter 2024

    Leading Others

    Radical Candor & Feedback - February 7: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m., EMU Cedar/Spruce, rm 231/232

    Followership & Trust - March 6: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m., EMU Cedar/Spruce, rm 231/232

    Spring 2024

    Leading a Unit

    Leading Change - April 3: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m., EMU Cedar/Spruce, rm 231/232

    Department Culture - May 1: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m., EMU Cedar/Spruce, rm 231/232


Unit Heads Community Canvas site

Our goal is to provide all heads with asynchronous, on-demand resources to support them throughout their time of service. The Community Canvas site is a home for modules curated specifically for heads and includes materials from all in-person meetings. New unit heads with a July 1 start date are encouraged to complete the asynchronous learning opportunity during the summer. The site includes modules regarding: 

  • Teaching & Curriculum 
  • Program Review, Assessment & Data Access  
  • Resources for your Faculty 
  • People Support & Review 
  • Administration of the Unit 

Peer Leadership Coaching Program

This program leverages the talents of the UO Leadership Academy graduates as peer coaches, and pairs them with faculty in the first or second year of new leadership position. Coaching pairs will be encouraged to meet every 2-4 weeks, with a check in from the coordinators each term. Coaches will be supported across the year with the Gather & Grow meeting series for UO Leadership Academy graduates. Peer coaches will leave the year with further development of non-directive leadership and listening skills – important competencies for leading from where you are. New leaders will leave the year having benefitted from time that is completely dedicated to them and their needs through non-judgmental deep listening.  

UO Leadership Academy

This deep engagement cohort-based program provides UO faculty and staff with the opportunity to develop a shared knowledge of the habits of mind and behaviors of inclusive and transformational leadership so they are empowered to address complex challenges and work collaboratively to cultivate equitable, healthy and successful teams and outcomes. A diverse group of 30 participants are selected each year through a competitive application process. The program believes that the integration of diverse backgrounds, identity characteristics, beliefs, and experiences is valuable to enhancing group effectiveness and learning. It is appropriate for both current unit heads or those considering a future headship. Sessions are held once a month year-round. Applications open in November each year and are due early January. 

Evaluation of Unit Heads

Currently department heads are evaluated by the dean’s office under which they serve. 

Rewarding Outstanding Leadership 


The Office of the Provost recognizes two department heads each year with a new Outstanding Department Head award. Awardees each receive $5,000, payable at their discretion as either a stipend or to their Academic Support Account (ASA). 

The criteria for the award are aligned with the definition of leadership behaviors we value at UO, as described at the top of the page, and therefore the nomination form requests examples of the nominee’s exemplar behaviors in Leadership, People Support and following Policy & Procedures. Deans are invited to nominate one department head from each school or college or division, as appropriate for their infrastructure.