Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration PhD

First Advisor

Lyndon G. Furst

Second Advisor

Paul H. Denton

Third Advisor

Robert A. Wilkins



The purpose o f this study was to determine the roles, responsibilities, and characteristics o f the physical therapy department chair as perceived by physical therapy unit administrators and teaching faculty in accredited, entry-level physical therapy programs.


The research population consisted o f current administrators and teaching faculty who work at least half time in accredited physical therapist education programs. The data were analyzed utilizing descriptive statistics, chi-square analysis, and ANOVAs with post hoc tests where appropriate.


The results o f this study indicate that physical therapy unit administrators tend to be older, more experienced, carry higher rank, and do less clinical practice than teaching faculty. Important roles o f the department chair tended to focus on faculty and department administration, whereas least important roles tended to focus on the student. The most important roles selected by administrators and teaching faculty included acting as faculty advocate to higher administration, preparing the physical therapy department budget, evaluating faculty performance to determine tenure and promotions, and monitoring accreditation standards. The least important roles that were common included helping students register, scheduling classes, maintaining accurate student records, and selecting students. Both administrators and teaching faculty agreed on the five most and least important characteristics o f a department chair. The most important were an ability to listen carefully and communicate effectively: an honest and trustworthy character: a creative, responsive, and personal interest in others: and a helpful and supportive concern for others. The results of the survey also suggested that faculty were less concerned whether the department chair followed the advice of others, became angry, was friendly and agreeable, always followed rules and procedures, or had a good sense of humor.


Unit administrators and teaching faculty shared a great deal of unanimity regarding the perceived importance of the roles, responsibilities, and characteristics of the department chair. Gender, years of experience, size o f the academic unit, and department chair selection do not affect the views regarding the importance of the department chair roles. Suggestions for further research include an expansion of this study to comprise university-level administrators or to investigate the perceptions of department chair job performance and satisfaction.

Subject Area

Physical therapy--Study and teaching.


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