Summertime of a Dean’s Career – Hitting Your Stride: Years Four to Seven
From Chapter 3, Summertime of a Dean’s Career, in the book, Seasons of a Dean’s Life: Understanding the Role and Building Leadership Capacity, by Walt Gmelch, Dee Hopkins, and Sandra Damico
Years four through seven, the summer of a dean’s career, find established deans reaping the benefits of their earlier labors. It is a time of fulfillment, the season when deans finally see their hard work nurturing the college environment, planting ideas, and cultivating collaboration, showing constructive growth and the promise of full bloom. Programmatic ideas they sowed three years ago have taken root and, in turn, are germinating other new and creative ideas. Healthy expansion and the promise of even greater program and enrollment growth in the future have become realities. Summer deans are more aware of how to do things and have become more comfortable with the deanship-and with being dean. The painful beginnings they experienced in the springtime of their deanships are, hopefully, over.
Unfortunately, the honeymoon is over as well. Many of the changes that needed to be made in the college have been or are occurring and the dean is the one held responsible – especially if the changes have been unpopular. By the fourth and fifth years, summer deans have built their leadership teams, and their colleges, overall, should finally be coming together. Those faculty and staff who were not contributing to the institution or found the dean’s leadership style distracting have, hopefully found academic homes elsewhere. Many of the early goals that summer deans shared with their faculty and staff are nearing fruition; others hold promise because the team is working together. Is the fifth year best? Does the job become easier with time? Are the deans who find themselves midstride in the deanship more effective, or do they lose momentum the longer they serve?
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