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ERIC Number: ED550424
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 190
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-2678-2422-6
Faculty Transitioning into Associate Dean Positions in Higher Education: Perspectives on Personal and Professional Experiences
White, Gary W.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
The purpose of this study is to explore the factors and mechanisms by which a faculty member chooses to move into an administrative position in higher education, and to examine their early experiences in associate dean positions. As faculty move into administrative positions they will likely experience a significant shift in their job duties and expectations, from faculty positions with activities primarily centered on research, teaching and service within an academic discipline, to positions involving broader administrative responsibilities. This transition involves significant shifts in both personal and professional identities and activities. The particular level of focus for this study is that of associate dean positions. While the exact duties vary between institutions and between academic colleges, these positions have many commonalities and are typically at the administrative level directly above department heads and directly below academic deans. The research questions for this study are: (1) How do aspects of a faculty member's identity (personal and professional) influence their decision to enter into an administrative position (associate dean level) in higher education? and (2) How does the new administrative role impact personal and professional identity for faculty members making this transition? What are their experiences in the position and how do these experiences influence future personal and professional decisions? The primary data sources for this project are interviews with faculty members who have made the transition from either faculty member or department head into the role of associate dean. A pilot project for this study was conducted in the fall of 2008 and the spring of 2010, which informed this study and aided in the development of the interview protocol. This project consists of qualitative interviews with 8 participants from each of 3 different research universities, for a total of 24 participants. Interviews were coded and themes developed using the principles of grounded theory. The conceptual framework that guides this project has been developed from current theories on leadership and professional identity and from the literature on academic leadership roles. Results of the study are divided into two parts. The first part (Chapter 4) discusses backgrounds of the individuals and their transition into the associate deal role. Findings show that there are divergent pathways into the associate dean role and that identification by others is an important component. The decision-making process involves an analysis of fit and timing in their personal lives and careers. Mentoring is an important and valued activity but one which is not often present as one contemplates and moves into the role of associate dean. The second section of findings (Chapter 5) shows that the transition into the associate dean position is stressful and difficult. The first year in the position involves a great deal of on-the-job learning and skill acquisition, as well as learning to navigate the broader organizational environment. The first year is also a time when participants experience significant changes in the nature of their interactions with colleagues from their previous departments, a great sense of loneliness and isolation, and a need to establish new peer groups. During the first two years, new associate deans learn a great deal about the necessary skills and leadership traits necessary for academic leaders and they gain an understanding of how well they are able to assimilate into this role. Findings show that associate deans still retain their identities as faculty members while also acquiring a new identity as academic administrator. Almost all report high levels of job satisfaction and a desire to stay in their position or to consider higher levels of administration. Several overarching themes are discussed in Chapter 6. First, the transition into the associate dean position is very difficult. Second, there is tension in one's perceived identity versus the reality. Third, despite the difficult transition and identity tension, there is an overwhelming sense of job satisfaction and desire to continue in an administrative capacity. This study provides a better understanding about why faculty members enter administrative positions in higher education, as well as the impact of this job experience on their personal and professional identity and future career choices. This research also has implications for practice as it provides information that will help improve the selection and retention of administrators in higher education and provides information to improve the transition process for newly appointed administrators. This project is also significant because it adds to recently developed theories about leadership identity development. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A