Management / Leadership


Educational Leadership
It has been both my experience and observation that educational leadership has gone relatively unrecognized and it is underrated as a principal factor influencing educational quality. The emphasis at most educational institutions today is on managership rather than leadership.

Managers maintain, oversee and follow policies set by others; leaders by example induce others to follow, they set goals and often are the catalysts for change. Managers are most comfortable when adhering to policy, leaders want to be unfettered by policies. Managers are more likely to look for pragmatic solutions to problems while leaders favor the ideal. Administrators value a smooth managerial operation and efficiency when leaders seek that which is most effective.

Leaders and managers represent two different functions, and in most instances, two equally distinct types of personalities. Boards and administrators like to believe they appoint leaders who are good managers. In my experience, this rarely happens as there are such fundamental conflicts between leading and managing. The very qualities that make good leaders are the same ones that often are disruptive to the managerial process.

A rather generic description of institutional organization from around or before the 1950s would be: A governing Board of Trustees or Regents; a President and Administrative staff to carry out academic, business, service and maintenance functions; a Provost to oversee academic affairs and faculty. At one time, there was a Dean of Faculty but this position has been eliminated or combined with the Provost's office at most universities; Deans to supervise College operations and Department Heads; Department Heads to assume responsibility for individual programs of study and faculty members. Educational degrees were offered on three levels of undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate studies. Ivy League universities have always adhered most faithfully to academic tradition and organization. Many of the smaller private universities have modified as dictated by pressures to survive. Independent Schools of Art forewent their traditional organization as part of becoming accredited during the late 1950s and 1960s.


Changing Role of President
Within academic organization, there are several levels where at different times leadership has strongly impacted. There was a period in the history of American education when the President was expected to exhibit educational as well as institutional leadership. Presidents were chosen for exceptional academic credentials and they were to guide programs of study toward excellence. Leadership was broad, often visionary in nature, but Presidents also were directly involved with academic programs and faculty affairs. Trustees began to reduce their role in institutional operations and policies. As they did so, more responsibility for operation of the institution and the attendant authority were assigned to Presidents. Trustees, regents and legislators now place a higher value on managership, fundraising and a good public image rather than leadership in academic affairs. As the role of the President changed, so have the qualifications and type of personality selected for the position.

An active relationship between President and faculty continued at independent schools of art for a number of years after it ceased to be a factor at academic institutions. The Department Heads served as the primary advisory group to the President in educational matters, but the President was available to individual faculty members on request.

During a period of thirty-six years and five institutions, I worked for only two presidents whom I respected, Wilhelmus Bryan at the Minneapolis School of Art and Andrew Morgan at the Kansas City Art Institute. It is interesting to note that both men were driven from their positions, one through action by the trustees and the other by fundraising demands. The basis for my respect was that throughout most of their tenure as presidents, both individuals strove for educational quality, and their administrative decisions were always consistent with that goal. Near the end of their presidencies, each was under enormous pressure and their decisions or actions became less true to educational values.


Role of Provost
A significant part of the traditional definition for Provost related to responsibility for academic affairs and as the representative of faculty members and interests. In many respects, that role has changed dramatically since 1960. The managerial duties of the Provost have greatly multiplied, responsibility for academic affairs has perhaps changed less, but most faculty members today do not see the Provost as representing them or their interests. The Provost is currently viewed as an administrator and less as an academic leader. The more cynical faculty might see the Provost's position as mainly being the last step on the ladder to becoming a university president. It is not uncommon today for Provosts at numerous institutions to stay in position only two to five years.


Role of Dean
I think there has always been a managerial role for Deans but today,in the colleges committed to research, administration is beginning to look for #leadership rather than managerial qualities. What appears to have changed the most is the relationship between the Dean, faculty within the college and upper administration. My observation is that today Deans are to be more identified with institutional than college interests. This occurs because of recent moves toward closer working relationships between Deans and Provost. Traditionally, Deans were the principal advisory group to the President. Now the Vice-presidents are most associated with the President and Deans are the advisory body to the Provost.

Role of Department Head >


Download PDF




Site Index



. 1 2 3 4

. .