An interesting dilemma lies ahead — where will all the academic administrators come from?
Historically, most administrators in academic affairs, whether they be department chairs, program directors, deans, or provosts, have come out of the ranks of tenured faculty. However with faculty increasingly being contingent and off the tenure track (70 percent), there has not been much consideration of where administrators within academic affairs will come from.
Clearly very different opportunities and constraints exist at different institutional types, but the problem will occur across all institutions of higher education to a greater or lesser degree. Fewer tenure-track faculty at research-focused institutions could mean that those who do have tenure will be expected to continue to focus more on grant and research production over leadership.
Teaching-focused institutions, including liberal arts college and community colleges, may be more reluctant to transition faculty from classroom duty to campus leadership. Regardless of institutional mission, it seems as though little action is taken toward leadership succession planning. There are often reports of difficulty filling positions. It’s not unusual to hear of department chairs or deans being chosen because someone was the only individual willing (and able in terms of being tenured, not necessarily commitment or capability) to take the role rather than best suited for it.
An emphasis on related experience, if tenured, has become more relaxed. It is not unusual to hear of an internal dean moving into a provost role, or a chair moving into a dean role after just a year or two, not because the person is an undeniable choice, but because so few other individuals have the experience needed and an external candidate could not be identified. Continue reading “Whither the dean?”
In the two decades from 1985 to 2005, student enrollment in the US rose by 56 per cent, faculty numbers increased by 50 per cent, degree-granting institutions expanded by 50 per cent, degrees granted grew by 47 per cent, administrators rocketed by 85 per cent and their attendant staff by a whopping 240 per cent, reports the Times Education Supplement.
“The obvious question is – why? Have students become so needy that a university needs not only a “dean of student life” but several associate deans, assistant deans and a plethora of deanlets – Ginsberg’s coinage of the term “deanlet” is wonderfully offensive – to cater to their whims and shield them from the temptations of booze, drugs and illicit sex? Have we become so trapped by information technology that we need an IT officer apiece in order to function?
“A common explanation of the growth in administrative numbers, both in the US and the UK, is that government demands for information and an increasingly complicated regulatory environment make it impossible to manage with fewer administrative staff than institutions actually employ. Ginsberg doesn’t deny that some growth in numbers could be accounted for in this way, but he argues, I think rightly, that most cannot.
“Because the US has a genuinely private and a genuinely public higher education sphere, it’s possible to compare administrative growth across the sectors; and because public universities and colleges are vastly more tightly regulated than private universities and colleges, it ought to be the case that they have added far more administrators. In the 30 years from 1975 to 2005, the reverse was true. Administrative and managerial staff grew by 66 per cent in the state sector against 135 per cent in the private sector. Continue reading “Rise of the administrative class”