The Case for Growing our Own
Academic Leadership - Online Journal,
Vol. 7 No. 1 (2006): Vol-7-Issue-1-January-2006
At any given time, there are literally hundreds of institutions recruiting academic deans to fill vacant
positions. On November 23, 2008, higheredjobs.com listed 331 dean searches nationwide. Given that
staggering number and the fact that the average tenure of deans is five years, this is a trend that is
likely to continue (ASHE-ERIC 2001). Why is this, and more importantly, what can be done about it?
Although there is no standard delineation of dean’s duties, the role has been described as “all things to
all people” (ASHE-ERIC 2001). Once considered the chief academic officer, the increased duties and
demands are more accurately portrayed by the title chief executive officer (Gmelch et al. 1999). Deans
that only oversee curricula, faculty, and budget are an artifact of the past. Today’s deans manage multimillion
dollar budgets, fundraise, mediate conflict, and address complex personnel issues (Bisbee and
Miller 2007). They also attend a plethora of meetings, complete excessive amounts of paperwork,
endure frequent interruptions, and are required to meet numerous deadlines (Gmelch et al. 1999).