The position of academic department head is one of the most critical in a university, standing as it does between the faculty and upper-level administrators. It's a difficult and time-consuming job, and perhaps more challenging in the life sciences than in other academic departments. Faculty and administrators agree that a good department head can significantly enhance academic life for both students and faculty, while an incompetent one can make life miserable for everyone.

CALL FOR INPUT: Florida Institute of Technology's Gary Wells stresses the importance of discussions with faculty when making department decisions.
"When you look at the whole infrastructure of the university, the most important administrator is the department head," argues Gary N. Wells, professor and head of the department of biological sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. "We're at the operations level. We have a joke around here: Whenever a vice president has a new...

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