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McNair Scholars Program

April West, Ph.D.

She/her

Education: Bachelor of Science in psychology (May 2001)

Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in industrial and organizational psychology from Alliant University

McNair Project: Perceived Characteristics of Effective Department Heads (2000)

Mentors: Jerome Frieman, Ph.D., and Philip Trocchia, Ph.D.

In 1998, a survey designed to assess the perceived characteristics of effective department heads was created and administered to deans and department heads on the Kansas State University campus. The survey contained three broad categories: Applied Abilities, Skills and Attributes; Basic Attributes; and Resource Allocation. In the current study, this survey was administered to the faculty, and their responses were compared to those previously given by the deans and department heads. A total of 1030 surveys were mailed to tenured and non-tenured faculty at Kansas State University with a total of 304 responses received. There was a high degree of agreement among all three groups on the importance of items in the Basic Attributes category and less agreement in the other two categories, although faculty and department heads agreed more than both groups did with the deans. The similarities and differences in responses among all three groups were examined. The most striking similarity was the complete agreement among all three groups on the top three characteristics of effective department heads: integrity, fairness, and listening skills. Department heads and faculty both had seven items within the top ten identified by deans (with varying ranks), but the deans ranked three of the items ranked in the top ten by faculty much lower. Although agreement exists among the three groups in their perceptions of the characteristics of effective department heads, the similarity of perceptions between department heads and faculty is greater than those of either group with the deans.