After 6 years in various administrative roles, I’ve become a Usual Suspect for a certain slice of dean searches, mostly smaller private and regional public colleges/universities. At one point rumors were apparently circulating that I was interviewing, and I’m glad that a colleague told me so I could point out that, no, I’m pretty happy in my current position, and if you knew me well enough, you’d know why I wasn’t likely to be looking around. But I receive a few contacts every year, and from the standpoint of someone who is not looking, it is pretty easy to see what the various executive-search prospectus narratives typically miss with the colleges of education I tend to receive search information on:
- Trends in enrollment, budgets, and hiring
- Fundraising profile of the institution, especially emphasis among areas (athletics, financial aid, health sciences, other sciences, everything else)
On the whole, the last fifteen years have not been very kind to these colleges, and I understand why this information would not be front and center. Yet, at the same time, a prospectus typically tries to signal the type of person the college or university is looking for. And for some people, specific challenges are attractive… and a provost at these institutions should want someone who looks for that challenge. Yes, everyone wants to be higher-ranked in [name your ranking magazine], have more grant funding, have a broader impact, and so forth. We all know this language, and you don’t call forth the Potential Miracle Dean by pointing out your needs in a way that cries, “Please, apply. We’re desperate.” But is there a middle path?