Academic deans at small colleges: Characteristics, challenges, functions, and professional support systems

Penny Lea Krampien, Marquette University


The purpose of this study was to investigate the characteristics, administrative career progression, perceived challenges, critical functions, and professional support system of academic deans at 26 small independent liberal arts colleges in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), and the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) consortia. It also sought to find out what advice they would give to future academic deans. The instruments used were an information questionnaire and an interview guide. The subjects of this study were asked to answer a 21-item information questionnaire which was mailed to them. Of the 26 academic deans, 22 responded to this investigator's request to participate. Nineteen academic deans completed the questionnaire; twelve of those nineteen agreed to either an on-site or telephone interview. Conclusions were as follows: (1) the majority of the academic deans were white males, with an average age of 52 years, married, hold the rank of professor with tenure, have taught an average of 19 years, and had experience as a department chair. (2) The academic deans considered hiring, firing, recruiting, evaluating and reinforcing faculty as their most critical functions. (3) The academic deans most frequently listed their five greatest challenges as: faculty issues, budgetary issues, minimizing conflict, attracting and retaining faculty, and workload. (4) The academic deans most frequently cited deans/provosts from their consortium, or from other colleges as those they seek out for professional support, as well as the president, assistant deans, other vice presidents, and senior faculty; (5) The academic deans primarily related advice to preparation, such as being a great teacher/scholar, the need for self reflection, and acquiring an ability to deal with budgets and legal issues. (6) The majority of academic deans would recommend the deanship.

Recommended Citation

Krampien, Penny Lea, "Academic deans at small colleges: Characteristics, challenges, functions, and professional support systems" (1995). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9600852.