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What the Hell Was I Thinking?

Reflections. Ruminations, and Revelations About Becoming a New Department Chair

Anticipation. Excitement. Dread. Fatigue. These are words some of the authors used to describe how they felt serving as a Department Chair during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Examining the roles and responsibilities that Department Chairs have, this book is deeply descriptive and gripping given that these Department Chairs were serving during a global pandemic.

Because research and experience tell us that being a department chair is one of the most difficult positions in higher education, the co-editors of this volume compiled first-person narratives of department chairs who were in their first 3 years of the position so that prospective candidates can benefit from their experiences. Twenty-seven writers contributed personal and professional stories about the triumphs and travails of being a department chair during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these narratives are funny; while some are heartbreaking, sad, and downright painful. Chapter contributors hailed from diverse departments including English, Communication, Education, Counseling, History, Political Science, and Professional Studies.

What the Hell Was I Thinking? Reflections, Ruminations, and Revelations on Becoming a Department Chair is a must-read for individuals considering becoming a Department Chair, those who are Department Chairs, and those who ever have served in that capacity.


Andrew Kemp is the former Department Chair of Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He now teaches high school in Florida.

Nicholas D. Hartlep (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) holds the Robert Charles Billings Endowed Chair in Education at Berea College where he Chairs the Department of Education Studies. Hartlep has published 25 books, the most recent being (2021) Asian/American Scholars of Education: 21st Century Pedagogies, Perspectives, and Experiences. In 2022 Profiles in Diversity Journal named him an Asian Leader Worth Watching. Follow his work on Twitter at @nhartlep or at his website, or on his YouTube Channel

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