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  #1  
Old 12-10-2005, 11:43 AM
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Career advice

Has anyone here moved from being a professional to managing professionals? Or do others have any advice to offer?
I'm 52 and have been professing for 20 yrs. I've also bought years of service credit in our retirement system so am getting close to retirement (if I want).
Our school has re-organized and will be looking for a new dean of Social Science, Humanites, and Foreign Languages. A colleague asked if I was going to be applying for the job, and the thought has stuck in my mind. Should I?

I still really enjoy teaching and the vacation benefits of a faculty member are unmatched. However the Dean's pay would be between a 50% and 70% increase over my current salary. Long term, these numbers make quite a difference, (even though currently the $ aren't that attractive to me) because we have a defined benefit retirment system in which retirement benefits are calculated on the year of highest salary.

Over the past years, the management class of Colorado Community Colleges has undergone important changes. There is no one at the Dean's level or higher either at our own college or in the State Community College system with an academic Ph.D. Some have academic Master's but most have doctorates in educational administration. Most faculty members are not happy with these changes since the values of the managerial class are quickly diverging from the values of the faculty members.

The department for which this new Dean is responsible is not very large and they are colleagues with whom I have worked for many years. However, in the re-organization the other Deans were shrewd enough to get the two worst faculty members, transferred into this new department. They would both be serious headaches.

I've managed the Philosophy department (as a kind of sub-department within Humanites and Social Sciences) for many years and have been able to turn it into one of the most successful departments in the State college system, but I have no experience whatsoever as a Dean. I have however, been elected by my fellow faculy members for years, to represent our academic interests in curriculum at the State Community College system, so I do have a measure of respect amongst my colleagues. So if anyone here has made this kind of career change, I'm very interested in hearing about your experiences.
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  #2  
Old 12-10-2005, 05:36 PM
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What's going on here? We can direct US foreign policy from this board but no one has any insight into a simple conflict between job satisfaction and money/power/security?
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  #3  
Old 12-10-2005, 06:39 PM
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It's tough to be a worker for 20 years and become the boss, most of the decisions a manager makes usually don't benefit the workers much so be prepared to lose some friends. Also keep in mind that the bigger you are the harder you fall. I'll elaborate more later once I think it through I could easily talk about it but typing it is a whole different ball game.
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  #4  
Old 12-10-2005, 08:47 PM
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I'm interested in hearing your further thoughts.
The situation is somewhat different at our school (most schools?) than a traditional capitalist corporation in which managers can rule by fiat. Faculty members will have a voice in who will become the next dean and the institution is obliged to have cooperative governance. Obviously there will always be tough decisions that must be made but there is much more opportunity for consensus decisionmaking in small academic environments.
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1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
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  #5  
Old 12-10-2005, 09:03 PM
MedMech
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerry edwards
I'm interested in hearing your further thoughts.
The situation is somewhat different at our school (most schools?) than a traditional capitalist corporation in which managers can rule by fiat. Faculty members will have a voice in who will become the next dean and the institution is obliged to have cooperative governance. Obviously there will always be tough decisions that must be made but there is much more opportunity for consensus decisionmaking in small academic environments.
I'm still fuzzy about how I want to convey my thoughts, I'm a bit more serious about business than I am politics.

One thing for you to sleep on, even though you have cooperative leadership there is always a fringe element that is a PIA and you have to play referee...conflict resolution stinks. If you do take the job appoint someone else to handle the inner-turmoil

and if your the boss that means that you have to answer to your boss and your job is to convey their wishes......now if you can manage to do that and keep the prof's happy you will continue to make the big bucks but if you can't keep your resume up to date.
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  #6  
Old 12-10-2005, 09:04 PM
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Howdy Kerry,
Stay where you are then take the earliest retirement you can. My uncle was a top exec. at a company then at 55 he took off. Hasn't looked back.
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  #7  
Old 12-10-2005, 09:44 PM
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It will be lonely at the top.
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  #8  
Old 12-10-2005, 09:57 PM
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You have to become pretty heartless when you manage people so if are unable to do that then don't take it.
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  #9  
Old 12-10-2005, 10:23 PM
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One factor I didn't include was that I have one 11 yr old daughter in the 6th grade, so I wont be able to really enjoy retirment until she graduates from high school, so I'm looking at about 6 yrs during which I either coast in the position I'm in, or take on a new challenge.

The heartless thing concerns me. There's not a lot of firing that goes on at colleges since most employees and faculty members enjoy enough legal protections that the effort to fire them is rarely expended. But there are other decisions that must be made that tend to make a person heartless.

There are other unusual power dynamics in academia. A dean is as likely to lose their job because they lose the confidence of the faculty as they are to lose their job because they fall out of favor with someone higher up the managerial ladder. Our previous vice president lost her job in that situation. This strange reversal of power is a result of the fact that the knowledge and ability to carry out the basic job of the institution lies in the hands of the 'working class', the faculty. Managers can't concentrate knowledge in their own hands in academic institutions. Add to this the fact that some academic administrators don't actually understand this.

Another item I was not clear on was that I already hire and supervise 15 part-time philosophy instructors and I have done this for about 8 years.
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1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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  #10  
Old 12-10-2005, 10:26 PM
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I hesitate to provide any advice because I have no experience with the inner working of the administration of a University and do not have a good understanding of the role of a Dean.

However, most organizations that have higher level managers exist with varying capability of such managers.

Some get promoted into the position and never grasp the requirements of the job. They are more associated with the people who work for them and feel a kinship with these folks. The manager does nothing to rock the boat of the underlings and the department generally exists as the status quo. Nothing really changes for the better or worse. Naturally, if some of the underlings attempt to take advantage of the situation, the manager is forced, reluctantly, to act. But, more than likely, he can massage the underling and the department can continue forward, with upper management being none the wiser.

Then, there is the opposite manager. He has visions of where the department should go and the way it should be managed. He decides to make some radical changes within the department to improve efficiency and generally take a fresh look at what can be done better. This does not bode well for the underlings and will result in some turnover. The department may, or may not be better off in the end. Sometimes the vision of a manager can effect wholesale change that is better for the company. Sometimes he can drive excellent personnel out the door. I've observed both managers in action over the years.

So, you simply need to decide what type of Dean you wish to be. If you are pleased with maintaining the status quo and generally need to take attendance and manage the small altercations from time to time, then it appears to be a fine job that pays extremely well.

But, if you recognize an agenda that needs action and you intend to accomplish something within the department, then, you clearly have your work cut out for you and there is no guarantee of success. In fact, this approach can be quite risky if you don't have the proper support from the upper management.

The choice is yours. Either approach is possible. One has very little risk and a hefty pay increase.
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  #11  
Old 12-10-2005, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerry edwards
I'm interested in hearing your further thoughts.
The situation is somewhat different at our school (most schools?) than a traditional capitalist corporation in which managers can rule by fiat. Faculty members will have a voice in who will become the next dean and the institution is obliged to have cooperative governance. Obviously there will always be tough decisions that must be made but there is much more opportunity for consensus decisionmaking in small academic environments.
What is the current Dean's reason for leaving. How well did they handle the job? What is the typical length of employment?
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  #12  
Old 12-10-2005, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedMech
What is the current Dean's reason for leaving. How well did they handle the job? What is the typical length of employment?
A dean was promoted to vice-president after the previous vice president 'retired', leaving an open position. Very long. 10 yrs or more. Most either retire in the position or move up the ladder at another school if they start young.
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  #13  
Old 12-10-2005, 11:40 PM
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Kerry, this seems pretty simple from over here, not having all the details of course. You, more than most, have put your personal happiness above financial reward for your entire professional life, have you not? Unless your priorities have changed markedly, or you're unhappy with where those priorities have led you, continue along that path. IOW, forget the money, which job do you believe will make you happier? Personally, I would find the excitement of a new challenge very alluring. BTW, job security is vastly overrated, and often serves as an impediment to the process of going forward and meeting new challenges.
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  #14  
Old 12-10-2005, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerry edwards
A dean was promoted to vice-president after the previous vice president 'retired', leaving an open position. Very long. 10 yrs or more. Most either retire in the position or move up the ladder at another school if they start young.

It's a no brainer then, when do you start?
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  #15  
Old 12-11-2005, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Carlton
I hesitate to provide any advice because I have no experience with the inner working of the administration of a University and do not have a good understanding of the role of a Dean.

However, most organizations that have higher level managers exist with varying capability of such managers.

Some get promoted into the position and never grasp the requirements of the job. They are more associated with the people who work for them and feel a kinship with these folks. The manager does nothing to rock the boat of the underlings and the department generally exists as the status quo. Nothing really changes for the better or worse. Naturally, if some of the underlings attempt to take advantage of the situation, the manager is forced, reluctantly, to act. But, more than likely, he can massage the underling and the department can continue forward, with upper management being none the wiser.

Then, there is the opposite manager. He has visions of where the department should go and the way it should be managed. He decides to make some radical changes within the department to improve efficiency and generally take a fresh look at what can be done better. This does not bode well for the underlings and will result in some turnover. The department may, or may not be better off in the end. Sometimes the vision of a manager can effect wholesale change that is better for the company. Sometimes he can drive excellent personnel out the door. I've observed both managers in action over the years.

So, you simply need to decide what type of Dean you wish to be. If you are pleased with maintaining the status quo and generally need to take attendance and manage the small altercations from time to time, then it appears to be a fine job that pays extremely well.

But, if you recognize an agenda that needs action and you intend to accomplish something within the department, then, you clearly have your work cut out for you and there is no guarantee of success. In fact, this approach can be quite risky if you don't have the proper support from the upper management.

The choice is yours. Either approach is possible. One has very little risk and a hefty pay increase.

This is a very interesting way of formulating the issue. Most of the members of the departments are highly educated academics focused on their own discipline, organizing the courses and hiring part-time instructors. They are largely self-managing. In my own instance I usually meet with the Dean twice a year. Once to formalize my goals, and then for a year-end evaluation. We only meet at other times if problems have arisen which need higher level intervention. But this is not often. Perhaps once a year. (We were taken to court a few years ago by a student who didn't like her grade!) The department has a growing supply of students. So in terms of your scenario, the status quo is very successful and has been for years. There are a couple of new problem faculty members added to the department, but they are a small minority. A manager with a 'vision' would be upsetting a very profitable applecart. I know you'll probably find this hard to believe but Philosophy is the most 'profitable' discipline on the campus when the bean counters apply their cost/benefit analysis.

I may be wrong, but I think upper level management views the situation in similar terms. There are other departments in the school that are not as successful and need new direction. For instance, our computer science department has been in deep trouble ever since the dotcom collapse. But they want to keep our core economic engines (Math, English, Social Science, Humanities) churning along as reliably as ever. I think that's why they grouped the disciplines the way they did. They gave the problem areas to more experienced deans leaving this group of disciplines for a new dean, knowing that a new person would have to work really hard to screw things up in these areas.

I definitely feel more of a kinship with faculty members than I do with the managerial class. However, until recently, deans were always drawn from faculty, building their effectiveness on this connection. It's only been in the last 10 yrs or so that the 'professionalization' of the managerial class for community colleges has occured with graduate programs in 'Community College Administration'. I see this development as insidious insofar as it weakens the commitments to traditional academic work.
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1977 300d 70k--sold 08
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1984 307d 126k--sold 8/03
1985 409d 65k--sold 06
1984 300SD 315k--daughter's car
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1999 Fuso FG Expedition Camper
1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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