Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Fiene, Jay


Over the years, the academic dean position has evolved from mainly focusing on student matters to an emphasis on promoting quality teaching and academic programs. The dean’s role is comprised of academic and administrative duties and responsibilities, requiring working with various stakeholders. The complexities associated with reduced budgets, increased enrollment demands, guarantee of quality education, and expectations from the private and public sectors create a perennial need for strong, competent leaders. Attributes for those in the dean’s position have been described as being able to keep peace among various groups with competing priorities. Other abilities address the many internal and external pressures confronting the position, and the need to motivate, plan, and establish a shared vision for the college.

Research has found academic deans traditionally advance from faculty to administration with few opportunities to train for the administrative leadership aspect, having trained and oriented predominately for academic careers in scholarship and teaching. In the absence of administrative training, academic deans have found they lack the breadth and depth of administrative leadership practices. This research study examined the essential administrative competencies and preferred professional development method for academic deans responsible for discipline-specific colleges within the California State University (CSU) system. The study employed a mixed methods research design for the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. The findings from the surveys and interviews revealed significant results for identifying essential administrative competencies, and preferred professional development methods for effective academic deans. A common theme that emerged was that their prior academic training and experience did not provide a significant amount of transferable skills. Interview results described serving on committees, working with mentors, training with immediate supervisors, and attending professional development programs as the methods selected for administrative development. Survey results identified hands-on experience, and attending seminars as the most preferred professional development methods for the majority of administrative competencies.