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3 Symbolic Roles of a Dean

This article is more on author’s personal experience in leading the faculty for two periods. University students and lecturers are certainly no strangers to the position of faculty leader - more popularly known as Dean. For a lecturer, the dean's position is an additional task. In fact, a lecturer is carrying out teaching, research, and community service. Well, lecturers who serve as Deans in addition to carrying out lecturers’ job functions also get the additional task of managing the faculty.

3 Symbolic Roles of a Dean
Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Dean is a leader in the faculty who is in charge of carrying out academic activities on campus. At the same time, the Dean has the role and function of bridging the university's policy to be understood and translated into operational activities at the level of majors and study programs. This role certainly requires a Dean to undergo two professions at once; academics and professional managers. Therefore, it is natural that the Dean is dubbed as an academic leader.

The Dean posts as a middle manager in the hierarchy of campus organizations. The task of a dean is not easy. Doubles often don't go hand in hand. On the one hand, he is a lecturer who does teaching, research, and carrying out community services. As an academic, the task of instituting science and technology becomes the main obligation following the academic competence possessed. On the other hand, a Dean must carry out managerial activities as an additional task.

The ideal Dean can perform both roles proportionally. But in reality, it is often one of the neglected roles. Deans tend to be busy with managerial activities, so forget to develop an academic career. In contrast to lecturers without additional duties, they have the full time to conduct research and community research in addition to teaching as the main obligation. This is the opportunity that is lost as well as the risk that must be borne by a Dean.

In leading the operations of the faculty, Dean has three symbolic roles. He plays a  dovea dragon, and a diplomat. The role of a peace pigeon is carried out because of the rise of conflict in the academic environment. Dean must be a mediator and solver for conflict resolution. Conflict often arises due to the background of diverse disciplines among lecturers. Each lecturer has his ego related to the realm of science owned.

The role of the dragon must be played when academics mis-interpret academic freedom and autonomy. Not an antagonistic role like in a TV soap opera. The firmness of vertical academic ethics and orderly rules make a Dean must act like a dragon. Symbolic of a dragon that spits out a flame, does not mean that the dean must always be angry. The anger of a Dean arises when there are actions of faculty members who are suspected of damaging the organizational system. Of course, do not let it just because of the actions of a member, then damage the order of the organization.  

His last role was as a diplomat. This role is more focused on the task as a wise figure in the friction between factions. Wise because of the necessity of a Dean as a neutral and fair referee for various parties involved in the conflict. The dean must be able to avoid conflict of interest. Do not because the conflicting party comes from the department or study program of the Dean, then act biased.  

In the end, the three symbolic roles above must be carried out proportionally. Although in practice often faced a variety of obstacles as well as challenges themselves. But believe me, if the mandate as Dean is carried out sincerely, intelligently, and thoroughly, then there will be no obstacles in achieving the vision of the faculty. 

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