An Investigation of Dean Leadership.Report as inadecuate

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This paper provides an overview of leadership by college deans, proposes a definition of academic leadership, and assesses the degree to which deans exhibit the behaviors embedded in academic leadership. Drawing on the literature, a definition of academic leadership was constructed. Academic leadership is the act of building a community of scholars to set direction and achieve common purposes through the empowerment of faculty and staff. This definition presupposes that there are three activities deans must perform to lead effectively: (1) building a community of scholars; (2) setting direction; and (3) empowering others. In 1997, the National Survey of Deans in Higher Education used the responses of a sample of deans (population of 1,370; response rate of 60%) to build a database of opinions, beliefs, and reported activities. Deans were asked to indicate behaviors that characterized their practice. Overall, deans were found to be balanced in their approaches to leadership, with deans in comprehensive universities more likely to describe themselves as community builders than deans in research universities. In addition, it appears that years in the position take a toll on deans. After about year 10, deans tend to disengage in direction setting behavior, a finding that may have implications for institutional development. (SLD)

Descriptors: Academic Deans, Administrator Attitudes, College Faculty, Higher Education, Instructional Leadership, Research Universities, Surveys

Author: Gmelch, Walter H.; Wolverton, Mimi


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