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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Associate Deans

We used to have associate deans for humanities, social sciences, hard sciences.  Now we are going to have associate deans for "academic innovation and student success" and things like that. This means that we won't know them as well, because they are not in charge of various sets of departments, but of broadly defined conceptual values.  There will be one for diversity, maybe one for sustainability.  

I see this as part of the trend toward emphasizing less academic functions of academia, though the dean is making these positions 25% ones rather than 50 to save money. So the dean will do as much work, probably, but be paid half the amount for the administrative work sh/e does.


Leslie B. said...

We've got these. Some are vice-presidents, though.

It has to do with deprofessionalization of faculty I think. You have all these people teaching high loads who aren't professors or necessarily PhDs, and you have administrators and administrative staff trying to cover some of what were professorial functions by applying commercial educational products.

In some departments advisors are staff, not professors, and the type of advising (on graduate school and so on) that one would think a professor would have to do is done by student organizations, I am told. This has to do in part with the fact that there is only one actual professor per 100 students.

Thomas said...

"you have administrators and administrative staff trying to cover some of what were professorial functions by applying commercial educational products"

Yes, this is a growing problem. The products are often not very good, and approach university as a series of school-assignments to be "decoded" (and even "hacked") but the administrators who evaluate lack the experience to do so. What's happening is that non-academics (non-professors, non-PhDs) are trying (often very sincerely) to explain to students what university is all about. The professors, sometimes out of simple politeness, don't correct them. I think we've got a whole generation of public intellectuals (okay, journalists) who have a completely skewed view of science and scholarship as a result. Not to mention the public they serve.

Jonathan said...

These deans are taken from the professorial ranks and are generally good academics. The problem is that their talents will be used in this way. But your observations are valid in terms of the other kinds of staff we have. It is rare to have an undergraduate in for advising and I've noticed they started to call us mentors rather than advisors at the undergraduate level.

Leslie B. said...

The idea is that official stuff, monitoring progress to graduation, is done by staff and the lucky students get a "mentor."

Leslie B. said...

***Yes, I see this about misdirection / misuse of talent. But it is also that (using the student success example) we did not need "student success" when college was inexpensive enough that you could afford to fail people, and the legislature did not defund you if you did not have enough people graduating in four years, and when students were more academically ready for college courses. Now there is all this scaffolding that has to be done.***

Diversity: well, in the past there was stronger shared governance, more faculty of color with tenure, strong ethnic studies departments, strong student organizations, strong women's center, etc., and you had more ways of addressing what is now called "diversity;" also, "diversity," like "student success" is damage control in the current impoverished situation (and they are both administration, not faculty and student driven; they are disciplinary in this sense).