Multiple roles of fine arts deans: An emerging profile

Date of Completion

January 2007


Education, Administration|Education, Higher




Fine arts deans in higher education today lead multifaceted and dynamic educational and artistic organizations with a broad based managerial and leadership skill base. A leader in the arts must be able to deal with a plethora of administrative tasks while at the same time demonstrating effective leadership. In addition, faculty, administrators and students expect the dean of fine arts to shape an artistic vision for the school or college. Because of the complexities of fine arts, a dean must have a comprehensive artistic background in music, art, drama, dance and media arts. Not only is the fine arts dean an academic leader but a leader in the professional world of the arts.^ It was the purpose of this study to describe and explain the professional and personal characteristics of fine arts deans. A survey was distributed to 111 fine arts deans in the United States. Eleven questionnaires, 22%, were returned from the US News and World Report National Universities Top Schools population, 18 questionnaires, 37%, were returned from the US News and World Report National Universities Tier Three and Four Schools and colleges and 20 questionnaires, 41%, were returned from schools and colleges that hold membership in the International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) but are not ranked in US News and World Report. The respondent data from the surveys provided information related to the preparation of deans, the self-perceived strengths of current deans, perceived weaknesses of current deans, personal characteristics of current deans, a ranking of the "best" fine arts schools and colleges and programs in those schools and colleges and a demographic profile of fine arts deans. In reporting the analysis of the collected descriptive baseline data, substantive generalizations regarding the personal and professional backgrounds and role perception of today's fine arts deans emerged. The study summarized a profile of fine arts leadership in higher education and provided a ranking of schools and colleges, although inconsistent and unreliable. The results formed the basis for the construction of educational training structures for future deans.^