What Is the Typical Organizational Structure of a University?

A university’s organizational structure refers to the hierarchy that governs the delegation of responsibilities. Employees and students will know who answers to whom and who to contact if a problem arises. The specific organizational structure of a university varies institution, but in most cases, the executive level is at the top of the organizational ladder. The college or university president, as well as a chancellor if one exists, and a board of directors if one exists, are all included at this level. Treasurers and provosts, as well as the vice president or vice presidents, are other positions at this level.

While most colleges and universities have only one president, a university’s organizational structure may contain several vice presidents. At smaller universities, vice presidents may be in charge of a wide range of tasks, whereas at much larger universities, they may only be in charge of one or two specific areas of the college’s operation. For example, a vice president of student affairs will be responsible for student activities, problems, accomplishments, and budgetary concerns. A vice president of finance is solely responsible for the university’s finances, and his or her jurisdiction may extend to all university departments.

Academic deans are the leaders of various departments within a university’s organizational structure. For example, the English department will have a dean who will essentially manage or oversee all of the department’s functions. A dean of medicine will oversee any medical programs offered the university, while a dean of life sciences will oversee a specific department within the sciences. Although it is not common in some schools, a dean can hold other positions within the university structure. Associate deans may be assigned to the programs and report to the dean; these individuals are responsible for assisting the dean in running the department and addressing any specific issues that arise.

A university’s organizational structure can expand to include other programs such as athletics, groundskeeping, student government, housing departments, and many others. The specific place in the hierarchy of these positions can vary depending on the priorities of the individual university. In many cases, a reorganization is necessary to re-prioritize the structure in order to properly allocate funds and address seniority. For all members of the university structure, organizational restructuring can be difficult and stressful, so it’s often best to find a system that works and stick with it.