Archive for the ‘provost’ Category

squareWhat words of wisdom could Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and the founder and CEO of Square,  possibly have for the academic dean?   In a National Public Radio interview with Kai Ryssdal on May 21, 2015, Dorsey discussed his management style.    In particular, he discussed a management style similar to my own.   One where people and their ideas are highly-valued, one where decision-making is pushed closer to the stakeholder, and one where organizational leadership is key.   Following is a quote from the interview with Jack Dorsey:

I say that if I have to make a decision, we have an organizational failure. (That’s) because I don’t have the same context as someone who is working day to day with the data, with the understanding of the customer. I definitely see the organization and the people in it as the ones to make the decisions, because they have the greatest context for what needs to be done.

How many academic leaders can honestly agree with a management philosophy where “my job is to make sure that decisions get made” and where “there is an organizational failure if I am making the decisions”?  I would like to re-frame Jack Dorsey’s quote to make it applicable in a university setting:

I say that if a provost, dean or department head has to make a decision affecting academic program curriculum, the university has an organizational failure. This is because the provost, dean or department head does not have the same context as someone who is working day to day with an understanding of the students and the expected learning outcomes of the academic program.  The provost, dean or department head should definitely see the university and the faculty in it as the ones to make the curricular decisions, because they have the greatest context for what needs to be done.  (quote: Dr. Percy Trappe)

What do you think?   Does this ring true?  Is this your experience?   I would suggest that department heads, deans and provosts have much to learn from Jack Dorsey.

from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe   


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Dean Search Provost Search We All Want to be DifferentMilton Greenberg, in the article ‘You Don’t Need a Search Firm to Hire a President’ (Chronicle of Higher Education, September 2014), recently developed a list of commonly cited characteristics for a university president. Here they are:

  • the ability to articulate a vision,
  • a collaborative working style,
  • capacity to lead and inspire diverse groups,
  • a commitment to excellence,
  • superb communication skills,
  • distinguished scholarly and professional achievement,
  • well-developed interpersonal skills,
  • an ability to work effectively with a wide range of constituents, and
  • a commitment to diversity.

In discussing presidential searches, Greenberg makes the point that the pool of likely candidates for major posts is quite small.   He emphasizes that the finalists for a position will typically be limited to:

  • leaders at colleges similar to the searching institution who are at a certain stage of their careers, and
  • individuals who know about the institution and a few of its major figures

According to Greenberg, the chances for an academic leader of getting on the shortlist are enhanced by a limited and careful targeting of possibilities.

Greenberg’s observations were based on presidential searches.    Do these observations apply to searches for provosts and deans?    I think so.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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