What is a University Dean?

A dean of a university is a leader who oversees a department, college, or even a whole school. A university dean’s job description varies school, but in general, the dean oversees administrative tasks, hires and fires professors, interacts with students, and sets departmental goals, as well as managing the department, college, or university on a day-to-day basis. A university dean is usually an experienced professor who is promoted from the ranks of the faculty.

A dean can be elected or hired for a position as a university dean in a variety of ways. Professors frequently vote to elect a member of their own faculty as dean. The university president, the school board, or the board of governors can all hire deans. Although deans are frequently professors training, they are valued for their administrative and management skills and may spend little or no time in the classroom once elected.

There are usually several deans at universities, each in charge of a different part of the school. There are often university dean positions available for those interested in a closer relationship with the students, in addition to deans of specific programs, such as a dean of engineering or a dean of the humanities department. Many universities have a dean of student affairs who interacts with students and may be in charge of establishing or recommending student policies as well as dealing with disciplinary issues.

A dean may be ultimately responsible for his or her department’s performance, and is frequently tasked with ensuring that his or her particular area adheres to university standards. A university dean may have significant influence over the financial resources allocated to a college or discipline, as well as honors and scholarships awarded to outstanding students. Many colleges have a Dean’s List, which is a list of the highest-achieving students based on their grades. Being named to the Dean’s List can result in special privileges, grant and scholarship opportunities, or simply bragging rights for outstanding students.

Deans play an important role in the day-to-day and long-term operations of universities in many countries. University-wide meetings can be simplified and the needs of each department can be addressed specifically having a single point person responsible for each college or department. Clear programs and goals can be set to help continually improve both education and policy assigning each department an administrative head who is intimately familiar with the needs and desires of both students and faculty involved in the discipline.