ERIC Number: EJ853089
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul-24
Reference Count: 0
The Decisive Difference between Dean and Professor
Perlmutter, David D.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n42 Jul 2009
A friend and fellow academic recently told the author that her dean, who directs a professional school at a state university, spends most of his time at conferences hanging out with professors from his institution, as well as with their graduate students and his co-authors on research papers. She said, and the author agreed, that such habits typified "a good professor, but a bad dean." An administrator of a large, big-budget unit should be supportive and cognizant of faculty and student research, and may keep up a (modest) personal research agenda, but a university and its faculty and staff members and students are best helped by a dean who uses conference time for outreach to peers, alumni, and donors. In this article, the author discusses the variations between a professor and an administrator. In sum, while a good professor and good administrator may very well inhabit the same body, the two endeavors demand different qualities, as well as similar ones. Sometimes those differences chafe: Gather together professors, and complaints about managerial boorishness, incompetence, and scheming frequently froth up. Convene administrators, and tales of lazy, irresponsible faculty members soon erupt. Both narratives have a basis in reality but can spiral into permanent suspicion and antagonism. No surprise that the mood on some campuses is one of confrontation, especially in an era of flat or falling resources and difficult fiscal choices. A university divided against itself will no more prosper or even survive than a cleaved house or country. In the years to come, as higher education faces greater challenges, individuals' two mind-sets must, if not converge, at least attempt to understand each other better. Learning about and accepting individuals' differences, and agreeing on what constitutes excellence in their separate vocations, are good places to start.
Descriptors: Deans, Individual Differences, Leadership Qualities, College Faculty, Teacher Administrator Relationship, Administrator Role, Teacher Role, Collegiality
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A