Academic Dean and the Challenges of Meeting Changing Expectations within a Competitive Higher Education Environment in Africa


This article looks at the challenges involved and seeks to provide guidelines for leadership decisions and practices for the Deans that can be effective in institutions of higher learning. This paper provides an overview of academic leadership by faculty deans, and assesses the degree to which deans exhibit the behaviors embedded in this leadership in addressing the challenges and expectations of this century. Deanship is therefore treated as the academic act of building programs and a community of scholars to set direction and achieve the expectations of stakeholders in the current challenging economic times. The need for transformational leadership is emphasized. The paper shows how academic leaders must be the purveyors of ideas and knowledge that shape managerial thought and practice. Further, academic leadership needs to develop a human resource network inside and outside the departments and university and at the local, national, and international levels. Academic leadership needs to have a clarified program for faculty and staff promotion and development, and it should be placed on a priority list and agenda. Deans will need to use technology effectively and communication innovations to improve access to knowledge. Keeping pace with change in the world of work means offering education programmes that are relevant, are of high quality and, increasingly, include practical or work experience, as well as working more closely with stakeholders such as employers in course design or delivery. They will also need significantly to streamline their operations by incorporating new teaching and learning delivery mechanisms. Finally it is observed that academic leaders should take the initiative by adopting measures of success that are truly useful management tools for their institutions and that have credibility with the institution’s external stakeholders.

Share and Cite:

Otara, A. (2015) Academic Dean and the Challenges of Meeting Changing Expectations within a Competitive Higher Education Environment in Africa. Creative Education, 6, 134-143. doi: 10.4236/ce.2015.62012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Abu-Tineh, A. M., Khasawneh, S. A., & Omary, A. (2009). Kouzes and Posner’s Transformational Leadership Model in Practice: The Case of Jordanian Schools. Journal of Leadership Education, 7.
[2] Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived Self-Efficacy in Cognitive Development and Functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28, 117-148.
[3] Barr, R. B., & Tagg, J. (1995). From Teaching to Learning: A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education. Change. 27, 12-55.
[4] Bass, B. M. (1990). From Transactional to transformational Leadership: Learning to Share the Vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18, 19-31.
[5] Bennis, W. (1985). The strategies for Taking Charge.
[6] Bikmoradi et al. (2008) Requirements for Effective Academic Leadership in Iran: A Nominal Group Technique Exercise.
[7] Brown, S. (2011) Bringing about Positive Change in the Higher Education Student Experience: A Case Study. Quality Assurance in Education, 19, 195-207.
[8] Brown, S., & Denton, S. (2009) Leading the University beyond Bureaucracy. In S. Denton, & S. Brown (Eds.) Beyond Bureaucracy: Managing the University Year. London: Routledge
[9] Buller, J. (2012). Promoting Research While Advancing Instruction, Part 1. Academic Leader, 27, 7.
[10] Buller, J. L. (2010). The Essential College Professor: A Practical Guide to an Academic Career. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
[11] Chu, D. (2006). The Department Chair Primer: Leading and Managing Academic Departments. Bolton, MA: Anker.
[12] Cipriano, R. E. (2012). Faculty Collegiality as a Synergistic Agent.
[13] Collis, D. (1999). When Industries Change: Scenarios for Higher Education.
[14] Diamond, M. A. (2000). Academic Leadership: Turning Vision into Reality. London: The Ernst and Young Foundation.
[15] Drucker, P. (2011). People and Performance. New York: Routledge.
[16] Gallos, J. V. (2011). The Dean’s Squeeze: The Myths and Realities of Academic Leadership in the Middle. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 18, 293-307.
[17] Gmelch, W. H., Wolverton, M., Wolverton, M. L., & Sarros, J. C. (1999). The Academic Dean: An Imperiled Species Searching for Balance. Research in Higher Education, 40, 717-740.
[18] Goddard, R., & Skrla, L. (2006). The Influence of School Composition on Teacher Perceptions of Collective Efficacy. Educational Administration Quarterly, 42, 216-235.
[19] Jenkins, A., Zetter, R., & Healey, M. J. (2007). Linking Teaching and Research in Disciplines and Departments. Heslington: Higher Educational Academy.
[20] Kelly, R. (2012). Implementing High-Impact Learning across the Institution. Academic Leader, 27, 7-8.
[21] Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. J. (2002). Leadership Challenges (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
[22] Kuh, G., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J., & Whitt, E. (2005). Student Success in College Creating Conditions That Matter. Washington DC: Jossey-Bass.
[23] Maslen, G. (2012). Universities Face Uncertain Future without Radical Overhaul. University World News, No: 245.
[24] Millar, E. (2012). Universities Need Private Sector to Help Prepare Students for Work. University World News, No: 248.
[25] Osborn, A. (2012). Rethinking Education’ Calls for More Business Focus. University World News, No: 249.
[26] Ross, J. A., & Gray, P. (2006). Transformational Leadership and Teacher Commitment to Organizational Values: The Mediating Effects of Collective Teacher Efficacy. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 17, 179-199.
[27] Rowley, J., & Sherman, H. (2003). The Special Challenges of Academic Leadership. Management Decision, 41, 1058-1063.
[28] Sawahel, W. (2012). Quality Assurance on the Rise, but More Action Needed—Report. University World News, No: 245.
[29] Sharma, Y. (2012). Universities Must Better Prepare Young People for Labour Market. University World News, No: 250.
[30] Vassiliou, A., & McAleese, M. (2012). European Commission—Bringing Teaching in from the Cold. University World News, No: 241.
[31] Waters, M. (2012). Leadership Succession: How New Deans Take Charge and Learn the Job. University World News, No. 243.
[32] Wolverton, M., & Gmelch, W. H. (2002). Adapted from College Deans: Learning from Within. The Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Newyork: Oryx/Greenwood Press.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.