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A Dean's Life T The role is people- intensive, fraught with great responsibility, and rich with possibilities for success and failure. One dean shares his personal story—and explains why he loves his job. by Richard Klimoski he business school dean was meeting with his faculty when an angel appeared in a haze of golden light. The angel offered the dean the choice of great wisdom or great wealth. Without hesitation, the dean chose wisdom. "It is done," the angel pronounced, touching his hand to the dean's head before disappearing. The professors all crowded around the dean, eager to know what great knowledge he had suddenly acquired. The dean thought a moment and then said sadly, "I should have chosen great wealth." Many faculty members may already believe that if they become deans and are given this magical choice, the money would be a better bet, because they will be bringing with them years of wisdom accumulated during their professorships. The truth is, however, that even very effective faculty members might not be effective deans. They can build on their experience, but it's no guarantee. I was a faculty member for more than 30 years before I became a dean in 2002, and I confess I didn't have a clear idea of what the new job would entail. Most fac- ulty don't. And while I believe most deans can empathize with what it's like to be a faculty member, it's amazing how easy it is to forget. The dean's job really does change a person—and it should. Managing the Job The first thing professors might notice when they become deans is that they'll feel as if they're suddenly starting over. As senior faculty, they have reputations, even personas. As deans, they're completely green. They need to reestablish their credibility—and if they're taking the job at certain stages of their lives, that can be tough. When I became dean at George Mason, for instance, I had to build a reputa- tion among my ten fellow deans, most of whom had been in their leadership roles for years. This took time. I also quickly discovered that it's surprisingly difficult for deans to manage their time and schedules. Most academics stay busy; but when they take on extra work it's at their discretion; and, in general, their schedules follow a predictable rhythm. Deans have less control over their time and must learn to change direction on short notice. While professors often put in extra hours, deans multiply those demands on their time. I attend many 6 a.m. breakfasts, and sometimes I attend more than one breakfast in a day. The scheduling difficulties bleed into family life, so my wife and I have had to readjust our expectations of the time we can spend together. It becomes critical for a dean to invest in a new time-management system, usually an electronic one. I also have an assistant who helps arrange my calendar and lets senior staff know when I'm available so that they can plan their days accordingly. Doing the Work I find that one of the biggest changes between being a faculty member and being a dean lies in how the work gets done. A professor's hands touch the work; if he makes commitments, he feels obliged to honor them personally. A dean must accomplish most initiatives through the talent and effort of other people. If I promise alumni or stakeholders that they will be invited in as class speakers, I have to rely on other 38 BizEd JULY/AUGUST 2007

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