Posted by: Matthew Molinari | March 30, 2011

The Dean’s Disease (Blog #11)

When I was in college there was a lot of student angst directed toward the Dean. There were protests and newspaper articles for most of the time I was enrolled. I always wondered why someone who was so controversial for the students wasn’t so during the hiring process. It seems quite possible that we may have been experiencing the Dean Disease first hand. The students weren’t willing to submit to any level of group think and were looking to challenge the Dean on his choices. All of the protests were really just  another way of the students saying that they weren’t just going to take the Dean’s word that his way was the best way.

It’s not really surprising that a Dean can suffer from the same type of issues that a CEO or President of a company can face. After all, they are both charged with the same task of running an organization and setting the policy for the future of that company. At least for a CEO, they are most likely raised in a business world and have probably been gradually gaining power whereas a Dean may be completely unprepared for that role.

The most dangerous thing a school can do is fail to find the right hire. If the wrong person is hired, it is almost assured that the power will corrupt them. Once  that takes place, the Dean is in control and can hire the people that will make him stay there. It might seem obvious, but hiring the wrong Dean will severely damage the school as a whole. In order to reassure themselves, the Dean will create a staff that is full of less qualified people who are unwilling to voice their opinions. This is the only that the Dean can continue to feel superior but it also creates a faculty that is short changing the students.

The biggest challenge that a school faces is to hire a Dean who doesn’t base their own success on the success of their ideas but rather on the achievements of the faculty and staff. If a Dean has their self-esteem tied to always having their ideas be the right ones, they will inevitably surround themselves with people who don’t bring their own ideas to the table. However, if you have a Dean who gets satisfaction out of getting the best idea, regardless of who came up with it, the school really wins because they are now getting the input of countless people rather than always going with the input of just one.


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