A Conversation with Barbara Lawton

Lawton recently sat down with AL Editor Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti to discuss the increasing influence of fundraising in higher education.

Characteristics of the Ideal Executive Assistant to the Dean

The work of the executive assistant to the dean is an extension of the work of the dean in service to the students, faculty, and institution. The executive assistant controls access to the dean, manages resources, and coordinates cyclical processes and routine projects under the deanís responsibility. Deans need support and protection to maximize their impact, and the right executive assistant is key. This article seeks to assist deans (VPs, provosts, etc.) in their roles as staff supervisors: articulating job descriptions, assessing applicants, communicating expectations, and conducting performance reviews, all contributing to a culture of effectiveness.

Ten Habits of Successful Academic Administrators: Part One

There are many habits that make for administrative success. In my experience, administrators who exhibit most or all the traits discussed here, along with a strong work ethic, energy, an even temperament, and enthusiasm, are likely to be considered successful in their roles. Some will be more ambitious and will move to higher-level positions over time while others will be content to remain the best chairs or deans possible. Both career paths are quite acceptable. However, this piece is written with the former in mind, as some of the characteristics address those on an upward career trajectory.

Why Republicans Distrust Higher Education (and What We Can Do about It)

This summer, both the Gallup news organization and the Pew Research Center conducted research about attitudes toward higher education. Not surprisingly, both surveys found that respondents who identify as Republican have a greater distrust of higher education than do those who identify as Democrat. Because it is important both for the diversity of the academic climate and the overall financial health of institutions to attract students from families across the political spectrum, colleges and universities must act now to prevent a significant portion of the population from turning its back on higher education.

Managing Conflict: Please Don’t Leave

Research suggests that 80 percent of decisions made in institutions of higher education in the United States are made at the department level. Of the approximately 80,000 department chairs, a full 20 percent leave their positions each year. The number one reason chairs list for leaving their chairpersonship is because of noncollegial, uncivil faculty members. In an ongoing 11-year study of more than 2,100 chairs that I and my colleague Richard Riccardi have conducted, managing conflict has consistently been the second or third most important skill/competency that chairs have said they needed to be an effective chair.