Dean`s Life: Balancing Academic & Administrative Roles

Dean's Life: Balancing Academic & Administrative Roles
John Z. Kiss, Dean of the Graduate School, Professor of Biology, University of Mississippi
Jessica Elfenbein, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School, University of South Carolina
Topic: For deans, balancing scholarship and deanship is an on-going challenge.
Advantages of continuing faculty role as Dean:
-Joined academy as faculty member and want to continue.
-Easier to return to faculty when you have been active in teaching & scholarship as dean.
-Respect of colleagues and faculty that you are “in the trenches.”
-Better understanding of faculty perspectives, issues, and problems.
-Role model for faculty.
-Mitigating the “us vs. them” paradigm.
-Keep direct contact with students.
Disadvantages of continuing faculty role as Dean:
-Finding time to balance all activities.
-Fairness to your students: Can you really be an effective teacher or mentor?
-Fairness to your administrative role: Can you really solve problems and move forward when
you still have your foot in the faculty world?
-Skepticism about your “seriousness” in your role as Dean.
Selected literature on this topic:
-Gmelch WH, Wolverton M, Wolverton M L, Sarros, J C (1999). The academic dean: An
imperiled species searching for balance. Research in Higher Education 40(6), 717-740.
“The vision of the dean as a scholarly leader has been replaced by an executive image of
the dean as politically astute and economically savvy.”
One of top 10 stress variables of dean: “Balancing leadership & scholarship
-Willis C L (2010) To the dark side and back: The administrative odyssey of an academic
sociologist with lessons learned. American Sociologist 41(2), 190-209.
“We do not enter academia with the goal of becoming an academic administrator, rather
our focus is becoming a successful scholar and teacher.”
“...don’t forget that you are still a faculty member and an academic scholar.”