Advanced Management for Deans
reviewed by Linda Clark - June 15, 2017
The typical career path for most academic administrators begins as a faculty member, then as one assumes more responsibility, a department chair, and then, for some, to deanship. Few, if any, have formal training on leading a department or academic unit, and almost none have a background in higher education scholarship. As a result, learning how to be a dean in higher education typically involves on the job training. Advanced Management for Deans is a book that early career deans can consult to learn how others have dealt with issues ranging from strategic planning to administrative structure, fund raising, hiring, and leadership. Almost all of the chapters are authored by current or former deans, many of whom were involved in establishing or reestablishing their academic units.
While not explicit, the first chapter, authored by Sherif H. Kamel, provides an overview of the major examples presented in the subsequent chapters. Kamel discusses common administrative structures, governance, rankings, accreditation, budget, and staffing within the context of his experience leading the school of business at the American University of Cairo. His outline for some of the step-by-step environmental forces and institutional responses provides an excellent overview of some critical decision points deans face. While Kamel does not integrate formal theories from the higher education literature, the description of events is both rich and reflective of a practitioners perspective.
The next two chapters in the book outline experiences with strategic planning. Both Bourcieu and Erekson provide a plethora of real world examples of strategic plans and the implementation of plans. For practitioners new to strategic planning, Bourcieus chapter could be augmented by reading some more classical discussions by Keller (1998) and Chaffee (1985) as these articles provide fundamental knowledge of strategic planning elements and processes that are mentioned by Bourcieu. Erekson does a masterful job of providing examples from different institutional types. This variety should allow most readers the opportunity to find a scenario similar to their own. All of the institutional examples in the chapter demonstrate how to use strategic planning elements to guide practice. The conclusions in this chapter go a long way to emphasize the importance of using planning to guide decision making in academic units.
The majority of the remaining chapters in the book are devoted to financial structures, resource management, and decision-making processes and issues facing academic deans. Because these are often areas academic administrators are not familiar with, the emphasis in the book on these topics is very appropriate. Many faculty are not aware of how institutional level financial decisions are made. Entering a deanship with the knowledge of how funds are allocated, where funding comes from, and that not all funds are equal can be an invaluable tool, particularly in environments where funding is scarce. An increasingly important source of revenue, entrepreneurial income, is also covered in the text.
Specifically, the text introduces deans to different funding models for academic units (DAlessio and Avolio), which will most likely encompass funding models at most institutions. There are two chapters, one by DAlessio and Avolio and one by Friel and Salchenberger, that provide good summaries of how funding and financial processes work in higher education. DAlessio and Avolio refer to six different models to describe differences in organizational structures for academic units, such as auxiliaries or stand-alone schools, and also provide helpful examples of each. They proceed to introduce different sources of funding, those generated by the school, the institution, provided by the government, gifts, and endowments among others. The chapter concludes with a multinational comparison of academic units across the world, highlighting similarities and differences.
Friel and Salchenberger build on the information provided by DAlessio and Avolio, discussing the specific institutional budgeting processes. This chapter provides practicing deans with some specific suggestions on developing a budget within the institutional framework. Each section of this chapter includes a takeaway for business deans to reinforce the material. There is no doubt that new deans will benefit tremendously from learning about these fundamental higher education structures, processes, and vocabulary. Without this knowledge, new deans might make costly mistakes, both in terms of lost opportunities for revenue or through ethical violations in misusing funds. While these chapters use schools of business as examples, they can be generalized to any academic unit. After reading these chapters, an individual might want to learn more by following up with publications like Goldstein (2012). Goldsteins A guide to college and university budgeting: Foundations for institutional excellence is specifically written for practitioners and provides more in-depth coverage of the material presented in the chapters by DAlessio and Avolio and Friel and Salchenberger.
The remaining chapters center around quality-referencing accreditation, branding, marketing, developing advisory boards, and hiring faculty. In providing a brief overview of the role of accreditation, Friel furnishes a much-needed context for deans to understand the importance of this process. While the extension of quality to branding and marketing is logical, Hopkins integrates strategies of managing a school level advisory board as another way to leverage the knowledge and expertise to continually improve leadership, policy, and service related to the school.
Overall, this book can be a useful primer for individuals embarking on a deanship. A new dean might find the book useful as a just in time resource as novel challenges are presented. The conversational style of many of the chapters may provide a mentoring voice to a new dean. The chapters are filled with practical reflections and suggestions for deans across a variety of fields. However, the chapters in the text, with the exception of the chapter by DAlessio and Avolio, do not provide many scholarly resources for further study. Thus, readers might be interested in pursuing additional resources from the scholarly literature in higher education around key issues like strategic planning, resource management, accreditation, and leadership to further enhance knowledge critical to being an effective dean.
Goldstein, L. (2012). A guide to college and university budgeting: Foundations for institutional excellence (4th ed.). Washington, D.C.: NACUBO.
Keller, G. (1998). Planning, decisions, and human Nature. Planning for Higher Education, 26(2),18-23.