Chairs and Directors Leadership Circle

Group members Elizabeth Mustaine, Richard Zraick, Bob Case, Gary Leavens, Kerstin Hamann, and Graham Worthy. Not pictured: Tosha Dupras and Sudipta Seal. 

Four University of Central Florida department chairs from the College of Sciences have been selected to be in the UCF Office of Faculty Excellence’s Chairs and Directors Leadership Circle.

Tosha Dupras, Ph.D., anthropology chair, Kerstin Hamann, Ph.D., political science chair, Elizabeth Mustaine, Ph.D., sociology chair, and Graham Worthy, Ph.D., biology chair are part of the unique leadership circle.

With them are Gary Leavens, Ph.D., computer science chair, Sudipta Seal, Ph.D., materials science and engineering chair, and Richard Zraick, Ph.D., communication sciences and disorders chair.

The circle, which meets monthly, provides a supportive and confidential environment in which chairs and directors can build leadership skills and have meaningful conversations that will assist in issues they face in their roles.

“The program is the only one of its type at UCF,” said Debbie L. Hahs-Vaughn, Ph.D., assistant vice provost for the Office of Faculty Excellence. “We are unique, or at least one of a very few institutions, that are offering any type of leadership training to department chairs.”

The topics covered by the group are not set in stone. Anything and everything can be brought up and discussed by its members during their meetings. The leadership circle, facilitated by UCF alumnus Bob Case, president of Demetree Global, is considered a ‘safe space’ for those involved.

“The Chairs’ and Directors’ Leadership Circle provides a productive environment to discuss common challenges in academic leadership,” said Hamann, chair of the political science department and group member. “It provides the opportunity to think about approaches to solve issues commonly faced in academic units in a small-group setting. The fact that the facilitator has extensive leadership experience in the private sector provides useful comparisons of leadership strategies.”

In order to be a potential member, chairs and directors must have a minimum of two years of experience as a department chair or director. In future years, eligible applicants will be required to have completed the Chairs and Directors Excellence Program, which meets monthly and is held immediately preceding the chairs and directors council. The Leadership Circle and the Chairs and Directors Excellence Program were both strategies that directly resulted from the COACHE survey and the identified priority area of Departmental Leadership.

Questions about the Chairs and Directors Leadership Circle can be directed to the Office of Faculty Excellence at 407-823-1113 or

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