Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Sally J. McMillan

Committee Members

Michelle T. Violanti, Michael J. Palenchar, Lane Morris


The role of the academic dean in higher education in the United States is continuously evolving. What are the priorities of the people who hold these positions? What form of leadership do these people use to administer their college? This study seeks to examine the priorities of academic deans. The leadership frameworks of Bolman and Deal (1991) are replicated and tested utilizing confirmatory factor analysis on a national sample of deans. This study then explores managerial roles (Mintzberg, 2007) in the context of various tasks of the deanship gathered from previous literature (Gmelch & Wolverton, 2002) to propose a new model for explaining dean managerial roles. The new model for managerial roles of the deanship consists of Organizational Leadership, Personal Scholarship, External Relations, Department Administration, and Student Support. Most roles of the dean are considered important by deans across all institutional types. In addition, the study showcases deans place a large amount of importance on financial planning and budgets and maintaining effective communication, and the deans find they spend a lot time on participating in meetings and answering emails. The major contribution of this study is the expansion of the roles of an academic dean in 4-year higher education institutions in the United States. The importance of external relations among the deans showcases the changing nature of the position towards being a representative for the college within the community beyond the walls of the academy. The role of student support is now a separate function of the dean position compared to previous studies which included it with other tasks. Additionally, there is a reasonable correlation between organizational leadership and each of the leadership frames. This provides guidance for future research to explore the way deans act as the representative of their college. People who wish to become, or are currently, an academic dean can utilize the information provided in this study as a guide to understand what the priorities of the position are from people who currently hold the position of dean.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."