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Dean as an Initiator of Change

The role of dean is symbolized by three characters. In such situation, dean should function as diplomat who represent its faculty in establishing network with the stakeholders. Dean has also a role as “dove” who can overcome all conflicts in the faculty. Furthermore, dean must act as “a dragon” to maintain all academic regulations obeyed by staff. These three roles are needed when the dean takes the initiative to become a driving force for change. 

Dean as an Initiator of Change
Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Ideally, change initiatives come from educators and education staff within the faculty. However, the busyness of lecturers carrying out routine tasks of teaching, researching, and doing community service hinders the emergence of these initiatives. Meanwhile, the dean as the leader of the faculty faces the demands of change that stakeholders such as parents, students, alumni, labor market, and of course the government want. A leadership dilemma in the faculty. The dean could not stay silent and just stood idly by.

Change is a necessity. Everything in this world is always changing. Change for the better or change for the worse. What doesn't change, of course, is change itself. Organizational change is always happening, whether we realize it or not. Organizations can only survive if they can make changes. The dean's pro-status quo attitude (comfortable with the current situation) will not benefit the faculty as an organization. It's time for the dean to take the initiative to become a driving force for change.

Faculty as a sub-system of higher education organizations always move dynamically. The dynamics of the faculty organization need serious attention from the dean. When elected, the dean of course carries a work program for one period. The work program that is carried out may continue the work program of the previous dean which is deemed necessary to be continued. Others, new work programs.

When the dean carries out a work program that demands organizational change, it is not as easy as continuing the previous work program. This means it takes the ability of the dean to manage change well. Don't expect a miracle that the change will go smoothly. Various prerequisites and stages should be carefully considered. Not infrequently change initiatives have a setback for the faculty.

A simple example of a change program at the Faculty, such as the dean wants to implement a paperless program in correspondence activities. This program is expected to reduce the bureaucratic chain of administrative services that students and lecturers often complain about. Of course, the Dean must carefully consider the support for ICT infrastructure. How much money is needed to build ICT infrastructure? Also calculate the level of digital literacy of various human resources, both age, educational background, and experience. When is the right time to socialize change? Who and which work unit will be the pilot project. And how to monitor the change program running as it should.

Another example was when the author was the dean. At that time, the number of publications of lecturer articles in reputable international journals like Scopus was minimal. The number of publications by lecturers in other faculties increases every year. To be honest, the writing culture of lecturer colleagues is not as good as in other faculties. At that time, the author thought hard about how to make a breakthrough program that forced lecturers to improve their ability to write articles as well as publish them.

The program is called One Lecture One Scopus (OLOS). Lecturers are required to attend various reputable international article writing workshops. Lecturers who are qualified and experienced in publishing articles in reputable journals are required to mentor novice lecturers until they are successful in publishing their articles. The faculty allocates Article Publication Charge funds for lecturers who successfully publish their articles in reputable international journals. At the same time, the university provides incentives to publish articles in reputable journals.

This OLOS program continues until now after the author is no longer serving as dean. And the good news is that the OLOS program was adopted by other faculties, and even other universities after seeing the number of publications of lecturers articles increasing rapidly. It’s like two to three islands are passed. That is the analogy of the impact of the OLOS program. First, the writing culture of lecturer colleagues is increasing. Of course, this has a positive effect on the image of the faculty. Second, the fluency of lecturer colleagues in processing proposals for promotion to both the Head Lector and Professor. The number of professors at the beginning of the author's leadership was less than 3 percent of the lecturer population, currently reaching 10% in just 3 years of the OLOS program.

However, a breakthrough program like OLOS will not succeed if the dean does not become a role model for an active writing culture. Of course, lecturer colleagues will be moved when the dean can prove that no matter how busy he is, it turns out that he still finds time to write scientific articles. Thus, there is no longer any excuse for lecturer colleagues who are reluctant to write scientific articles because they are busy teaching matters. After all, if you want to be fair, a dean is certainly busier than a lecturer who doesn't have additional duties. The dean spends time carrying out the tri dharma like other lecturers, and also the managerial task of managing the faculty.

Any change programs that have to be executed require the dean's three symbolic roles to be carried out. Changes often have negative consequences, such as high resistance and the emergence of prolonged conflicts. The roles of a peace dove, a dragon, and a diplomat must be played proportionally. When the pro-status quo group against change, for example, threatens the sustainability of the change program, the symbolic role as a dragon must be applied. Conflicts that arise as a result of the change program can be resolved by the dean applying the role of diplomat.

The conclusion that can be drawn from this article is that change is a necessity. The Dean must initiate changes if he wants to bring the faculty to be better at any cost. Don't expect the change initiative to come from your subordinates. It should also be noted, do not to use change management theories written in textbooks as the main reference in making changes in the faculty. It is wisdom as a faculty leader who plays more of a role in determining the success of the change program.


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