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Author Topic: Question re Dean Tenure  (Read 23767 times)
newtoboard
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« on: October 07, 2011, 6:26:00 PM »

Is it common for deans to be asked to step down and, if so, what might be the reasons?
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prytania3
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2011, 11:18:34 AM »

Is it common for deans to be asked to step down and, if so, what might be the reasons?

It's happened at my college.

Reasons? I was never privy to that information, but that particular dean is now faculty.

A couple of deans got canned. The only place they stepped was out the door.
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tuxedo_cat
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2011, 12:17:39 PM »

You know we're going to ask about context.  Are you fantasizing about putting your current Dean on an ice floe?  Are you a Dean who has just pissed off the entire College and wondering if you should ring up your buddy at that academic head-hunting company?

I've seen quite a few Deans go up in flames (they all happened to be male).  A few of the varieties of bad behavior:

* micro-managing faculty matters that he should leave to their authority
* bald-faced lying to competing institutional parties instead actually mediating
* general bullying of. . . everyone
* pissing off the President, the Provost, the other Deans
* generally being an entitled ass and forcing initiatives down people's throats instead of working with faculty and other administration
* wooing new junior faculty for allegiance against the senior faculty he's pissed off

I'm sure there are more scandalous options.  I am frequently amazed at how dreadful Deans can turn out to be, given the enormous expense and time that's often sunk into those searches.

To be fair, I don't think being a mid-level administrator in a larger university is an easy gig at all.  I will add that our College has a new Dean and she is a *dream.*  All of us are holding our breath a little bit hoping that the other shoe doesn't drop, or that she doesn't leave.  If she sticks around for a few years, she could do an enormous amount of good.
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zharkov
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2011, 11:06:43 PM »


After many years in many different kinds of organizations, I have come to the conclusion that the chief reason someone gets pushed out, nudged out, laid off, downsized, fired, or removed is a personality clash with his or her boss.  The other reasons have to do with direction of overall strategy, losing all faculty support, and of course, basic competence.

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systeme_d_
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2011, 11:10:06 PM »

My former dean was asked/told to step down/retire after she wrote and circulated an open letter excoriating the president.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2011, 11:10:26 PM by systeme_d_ » Logged

newtoboard
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2011, 11:23:26 PM »

Yes it is something that recently happened at my university, which I thought was rare, but nobody really mentions it/talks about it all, so I was just curious as to whether it is, in fact, something that happens often enought that people wouldn't really talk about it....
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tuxedo_cat
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2011, 10:29:53 AM »

Yes it is something that recently happened at my university, which I thought was rare, but nobody really mentions it/talks about it all, so I was just curious as to whether it is, in fact, something that happens often enought that people wouldn't really talk about it....

Interesting.  In my experience, when a Dean is asked to step down, people absolutely do talk about it, in part because whatever went wrong with the last Dean is likely to shape the search for the next one.  But who knows why people aren't discussing it on your campus.  It's never a "ho-hum oh this happens all the time, another day, another Dean" matter.  If you're new to your current campus, though, I wouldn't go poking about for information.
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simplesimon
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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2011, 12:17:45 AM »

The most public firing of a dean I can recall in recent years happened at the UCSF School of Medicine.  A summary of that episode is recounted in this article.

Whistleblower
By most accounts, David Kessler's four years as UCSF's medical school dean were a rip-roaring success. So why was he fired?

In a cafe near his Pacific Heights home, David Kessler who weighs maybe 160 pounds soaking wet is expounding in a scholarly fashion on the causes of obesity, the subject of the book he is writing, while he waits for the omelet and Diet Coke he has ordered for breakfast.

But within minutes, it is apparent that the recently fired former dean of the medical school at the University of California at San Francisco has something else on his mind.

"What troubles me is how the university can continue to say that [their financial books] were accurate when they weren't," he says. "Why do they insist on that?"

The rhetorical question punctuates a long and earnest explanation of the spreadsheets and other papers he has brought with him and stacked neatly on the table. Kessler, the esteemed former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under two presidents, who earned his chops as the man who took on Big Tobacco, is plainly unafraid to punch back when he feels his integrity has been impugned.

And he's feeling it, big time.

UCSF landed a big fish when it hired Kessler as vice chancellor and dean of the highly regarded medical school in the summer of 2003. With its ambitious plans for a new Mission Bay campus taking shape alongside San Francisco's emerging role as a hub for stem-cell research, the university hardly could have chosen a more high-profile and, many say, capable dean. The university lured him from Yale, where he had spent six years as dean of its school of medicine after a triumphant seven-year run at the FDA.

But if it seemed like the perfect marriage, it ended bitterly. To the shock and dismay of many of his colleagues, Kessler was unceremoniously dumped in December by UCSF . . . (continues) http://www.sfweekly.com/2008-04-09/news/whistleblower/
« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 12:21:46 AM by simplesimon » Logged
dismal_sci
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2011, 12:33:49 AM »

I've seen several deans asked to step down.  One had her regular duties removed from her and continued for a while to do development work with various stakeholders while a management team ran the college.  She then was appointed a "special assistant to the president" and then later moved to a lesser job at a smaller college.

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larryc
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2011, 10:55:26 AM »

OP, why do you ask?
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oatmeal
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2011, 1:13:53 PM »

I was wondering the same thing, larryc.

OP. I have seen a few deans step down. Most were "advised" to do so by those higher up (often when a new provost or president came on board). One time the senior faculty met with the president and afterwards the dean retired straight away. One dean had a vote of no-confidence and was forced out after refusing to resign (amazing as it was). Others stepped down because they were ineffective and the faculty essentially ignored them. But most deans I have known stay on as long as they like, or until they retire or move. It would be interesting to see a study on the longevity of deanships and the reason for stepping down.
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tuxedo_cat
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2011, 1:18:32 PM »

Yes it is something that recently happened at my university, which I thought was rare, but nobody really mentions it/talks about it all, so I was just curious as to whether it is, in fact, something that happens often enought that people wouldn't really talk about it....
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txloopnlil
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2011, 10:51:08 PM »

It happened this year at my university.  Most people in the college seemed to like this Dean who had been hired only a year ago to make changes and develop some new directions for the college.   He apparently clashed with a micromanaging provost and out of the blue, between semesters, he was bumped down to regular faculty member and we are back to an interim who will do whatever the provost wants. 
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justanotherucprof
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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2011, 5:31:04 PM »

Deans in the UC system are reviewed and reappointed (or not) on a five year cycle.  But they serve "at the pleasure" of the Provost, and can be removed at any time, although policy requires consultation with the faculty before removal.  I'm sure that such consultation doesn't always occur, but despite the Kessler example noted above, in the years I've been paying attention there have been few involuntary removals systemwide.
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simplesimon
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2011, 10:59:44 PM »

Removing someone from the decanal suite does not always involve a public firing.  Behind the scenes one can be strongly encouraged by higher ups to retire, return to the faculty, or seek another appointment elsewhere.  Most people elect one of these three options rather than be publicly fired.
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