Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Ask the Administrator: How to Dissuade a Determined Dean
I chair a mixed social sciences department in a four-year campus of a large university system. Our campus is devoted primarily to business programs and my colleagues and I largely agree that providing a good arts and sciences education to business students is a worthwhile thing to do. Our dean (who has been here four years and will, we expect, soon be on his way onward and upward) has been pushing us for several years now to create a second major in one of the disciplines. No one in the department, especially those in the discipline, think this is a good idea. There’s little if any demand on our campus, and even our sister campuses with a major in the field have few enrollments; developing a major would also call for adding lines in fairly specialist areas that we don’t otherwise need.
This question is about dealing with a dean who can't seem to believe a department would not want to create a new major. After I explained the reasons for our lack of interest and showed him the data, he convened a meeting of the department, apparently thinking that I was misrepresenting my colleagues’ views. We were unanimous in our opposition. Now, though, we’ve just gone through an external review and learned from the review team that he charged them with trying to uncover hidden support for the new major. Again, they found none. I have every reason to suspect it’s not going to end here. How do we deal effectively with a dean who wants us to create a major where none is called for? We can divine no reason beyond his own vision, which simply isn't persuasive enough for us to do something we deem quite counterproductive. We’re trying to fathom his mindset so that we can turn him aside, but none of us quite understands his thinking. Who can provide us some insight into how we might end this stalemate?
Have a question? Ask the Administrator at deandad (at) gmail (dot) com.