Hidden leaders: Results of the national study of associate deans

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Teacher Education

Publication Title

Studies in Higher Education


Associate deans serve critical leadership roles in the functioning and management in higher education administration, but there is little professional preparation for the role. This study surveyed the perceptions of a random sample of 527 associate deans in colleges of arts and sciences, business, and education at US research-extensive and -intensive universities. There was a nearly equal portion of men and women in the sample, but little racial diversity. The majority of associate deans were appointed to their position internally, rising through the faculty ranks, and most had served in the role for five or fewer years. Most were responsible for academics, administrative services, and curricular issues. Many associate deans rely upon their personal professional networks to learn more about administrative functioning. A majority of respondents indicated that their research and scholarly productivity had declined. The principal administrative challenge was, for the majority, centered on budgetary concerns at their respective institutions.

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