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9/10/2012 12:00 AM

Characteristics of the Best Administrators

by Paul T. Bryant

From The Department Chair Insider – September 2012, Vol. 1

What characteristics do some of the best administrators possess?

A. Administrators are the glue that holds the department together in a functioning whole. The are the “stay against confusion.” As the occasion dictates, they are the leaders or the enablers who help the faculty carry out their various missions. They handle the red tape, catch the flak, look for and organize the ways and means. They provide leadership, or at least coordination and coherence, in the development of new programs, new curricula, and new research directions. They assure standards of excellence in both education and research. They often provide crucial mediation among disparate faculty ideas.

The best administrators will keep their eyes open to the sometimes disappointing realities inherent in any human endeavor, but will remain firmly grounded in an ideal vision of what a university can and ought to be. Trust everybody, cut the cards, then deal them, ante up, and see what kind of hand you have been given. Often enough it will be a good one, if you can just stay in the game. Society, and our students, need administrators who will play their hands well.

Paul T. Bryant has held administrative positions from assistant department chair to graduate dean at four universities.