Sunday, November 28, 2010

Run a college like a business?

Dean Dad, in the Confessions of a Community College Dean blog, discussed the "run a college like a business" canard in a recent post.  I completely agree, most community colleges are, and should be, run more like a town or municipal government than like a business.

I was going to write more, but I'd probably get in trouble.  I've been at my present place of employment since 1999 and have seen a number of academic and administrative deans come and go - some better than others.  I worked a semester as an acting associate dean of academic affairs myself (and am currently a department chair with supervisory duties over a dozen faculty and two staff members). 

You can't be an autocrat like you can in some businesses, you have to have the people skills to get everyone (or at least most people) to buy into your ideas.  Deans need to realize that most of the faculty were there before they arrived and will be there long after the dean has moved on.  You also need to lead by example (something I see lacking sometimes when extra duties are shoved down onto us by people who leave work at 4:30 every day and I'm often doing work at 10 pm on my couch at home and on weekends - see, now I'm complaining and I didn't want to do that!).

Anyway, most people have no clue how colleges are actually run but it's certainly not the same as a business which is why I'm always astounded that they put almost all business people onto our Board of Trustees.  That's another story for another time.

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