The Role of a Dean at the University of Missouri
By Brian Foster, Provost
The duties and influence of a Dean vary slightly, depending on the College or School, but in general deans' roles are very similar. At the University of Missouri, as members of the Deans' Council, deans play a central role, individually and as a group, in the University's academic administration. Deans are involved centrally in issues including strategic planning, budget, curriculum, facilities, and research. Moreover, they are key participants in external relations of the university, including fund raising, alumni relations, economic development, political priorities (federal and state), and public relations.
Deans are expected to support and promote the highest quality educational programs, research, public service, and economic development activities of their respective colleges and schools. Each dean must be an effective advocate for his/her college, both within the University and externally. Deans have ultimate accountability for their colleges' sound management of resources: fiscal, facilities, and human. They are responsible for collegiate planning, including alignment of plans for educational, research, and other activities in their colleges. The Deans have direct responsibility for:
- Engaging faculty, staff, and students in discussions of all important collegiate issues and assuring a positive, high-quality working environment; convening strategic intellectual discussions about future academic directions of departments, centers, programs, and the college itself.
- Advocating for the College, especially by joining the university-wide processes in strategic planning, budget, facilities planning, and political action, to position the College favorably in the University's broader planning.
- Raising private funds for scholarships, professorships, programs, facilities, and other College needs, normally spending 40% of his/her time on such activities.
- Playing a key oversight role in accreditation, program review, and other processes that are important for continuous improvement of the College's activities.
- Engaging with the Deans' Council in key discussions of institutional planning, policy, political action, and other key activities, in so doing representing the College's interests effectively.
- Hiring highly effective chairs, directors, staff and others who are direct reports, doing their performance evaluations, and assuring their accountability for highlevel performance in areas appropriate to their positions.
- Assuring coordination of all components of the College—departments, centers, academic programs (including undergraduate, graduate, and professional), economic development activities, public service, and other activities of the unit.
As a participant in a broad range of institutional discussions and decision making, deans must maintain perspective on the entire range of the University's activities, including different kinds of service, different academic programs, externally and internally supported research: the entire range of education and research on a world-class diverse campus.