The role of college dean is often found classified alongside other postsecondary education administrators. These roles include admissions counselors and officers, registrars, directors and provosts.
College dean is a dynamic position that can involve a range of roles and responsibilities. The following sections look at the responsibilities, salary expectations and educational requirements of college deans.
College Dean Responsibilities
A role of dean at the college or university level can vary depending on the institution and the department in which the administrator works. For instance, an academic dean directs and coordinates activities of the college or school to help educate students, enhance academic offerings and improve the academic profile of the division. A non-academic dean focuses on a specific area of responsibility; for example, a dean of student affairs oversees areas of student life, including housing and extracurricular organizations.
Managing the mission of a division is the primary responsibility for any academic or non-academic dean. Additionally, the dean has responsibilities for representing the division, managing budget and financial aspects of the division and managing personnel.
- Representing the division involves advocating for it with the college president and executive board, explaining its progress and goals.
- Managing the budget involves making major decisions on what resources to allocate within a division, deciding what to cut and serving as a chief fundraiser for the division.
- Managing personnel involves working directly with faculty and providing oversight to managers who are responsible for areas like research, academics or communications.
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An example illustrates the variance in responsibilities for the role of college dean. Beverly Wendland, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, told Science that she “sets priorities and agendas for the school,” emphasizing the financial aspects of her role. She added that her job is “not to figure out who to say ‘no’ to but who to tell to wait for their turn,” which is difficult because “everyone feels their crisis is the highest priority” and resources are limited.
Most of Wendland’s time — 14 to 16 hours a day — is filled with meetings, emails, faculty hiring, fundraising and deciding what departments can hire new professors. She still maintains previous academic roles, as a member of the biophysics department and chair of the biology department.
College Dean Salary
Official salary figures are only available for all postsecondary education administrators, and not deans specifically. The median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators is $90,760, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
A salary survey conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources illustrates how salaries for deans can exceed six digits.
Education Requirements for a College Dean
“Provosts and deans often must have a Ph.D.,” according to the BLS. “Some provosts and deans begin their careers as professors and later move into administration. These administrators have doctorates in the field in which they taught. Other provosts and deans have a Ph.D. in higher education or a related field.”
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