Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Today's Mandate for Pharmacy Deans: Anticipating Change

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Today's Mandate for Pharmacy Deans: Anticipating Change

Article excerpt

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.

--Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers, Mid-1980s

In the early 1990s, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), under the joint auspices of the Councils of Faculties and Deans, published an extensive series of excellent invited manuscripts known as Academic Management System. (1) This publication served many deans, department heads, and others as a blueprint to help guide the structure and operations of schools and colleges of pharmacy through much of the past 2 decades. Highly experienced pharmacy administrators and faculty members authored key chapters on management; planning; human, fiscal and capital resources; operations; and academic affairs; and all of the chapters were reviewed by experienced colleagues and included helpful case studies. Although much has changed in the academy in the nearly 20 years since this series appeared, many if not most of the basic principles and practices discussed in these chapters remain relevant today. I had the privilege of authoring the chapter on leadership as the newly appointed at the University of Kentucky. After recently rereading and reflecting on the dramatic changes in the health care and academic environments prompted me to reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing leaders of schools and colleges of pharmacy today.

In an overarching sense, the role of the dean in higher education has not changed much over the years. Those role(s) are (1) to work with faculty and other stakeholders to establish the vision and direction of the program; (2) to recruit and retain the best possible faculty and staff; (3) to accumulate the necessary resources to accomplish the major goals; and (4) to mentor younger colleagues while facilitating organizational renewal and succession planning. Yet when one looks at the challenges and rapidly changing circumstances that face universities today, every element of those 4 basic responsibilities seems to take on a different level of import and urgency than it had even a few short years ago. (2) What is even more obvious is that this rapid pace of change, together with globalization and other economic pressures, will continue to make deanships more challenging and may lead to decreasing tenures for deans--as is already the case for university department chairs, presidents, and provosts, as well as leaders of major business and nonprofit organizations. While the data are soft, the tenure of medical school deans has steadily decreased from 1940 to 1992. (3) The average tenure for deans dropped from 6.7 years in the 1940-1959 time period, to 5.8 years in 1960-1979, and to 3.5 years in the 1980s and early 1990s. (3) This has increased to between 5 and 6 years on average today.

I surveyed all schools and colleges of pharmacy established before 1985 and found similar results for pharmacy deans (Table 1). This trend has been observed in senior academic administrative positions and raises concerns about continuity and succession planning, as well as having implications for the background and training leaders will require so that they can adapt and successfully operate in a much more demanding and fast-paced environment. These factors, combined with the rapidly expanding number of schools, portends the need to identify and nurture many more individuals willing and able to assume deanships in the years ahead.

The Pharmacy Deanship in the 1980s and Early 1990s

At the risk of overly generalizing, universities were much more predictable and stable institutions in the 1990s than they are today. Applications from prospective students and yearly enrollments held steady. State governments were generally supportive of higher education, with fewer concerns about value or accountability. The tenure of presidents, vice presidents, and provosts was significantly longer. The call for health care reform had not reached much urgency. Shortages of pharmacists had not materialized. …

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