As one of the most senior administrative positions in academic institutions, the dean of students is in charge of student services and many issues related to campus life. Deans may work at institutions ranging from local elementary schools to prestigious universities, so their exact job responsibilities depends on their employer’s location, scope and student demographic. These administrators often lead and manage their own department, usually called the office of the dean of students, as a primary part of their job.
Develop Campus Life and Activities
One of the primary responsibilities of any dean of students is to develop a productive, healthy and engaging campus life. This includes cultivating a rich cultural and academic experience through educational programs, diverse entertainment options and professional development opportunities. At colleges and universities, the dean’s office also oversees the operations of student organizations like clubs and fraternities.
Communicate with Parents, Students and Administrators
Deans, or their offices, serve as a primary point of contact and coordination between students, their parents and school officials. They need to have a broad network both in and outside their organization so they can connect students with people who can help them overcome an obstacle or pursue a new opportunity. A dean of students also needs to know everything about financial aid and loans, as these are both crucial issues to the students they serve.
Guide Students Towards Support Services
A dean of students may spend a lot of their time talking and working directly with individual students at their school. They serve as a counselor or mentor in matters regarding student life and navigation of the school’s policies or procedures. Students may come to their dean to seek resolution for any number of issues arising outside the classroom, including personal problems that are interfering with education, negative encounters with other students or difficulties with roommates.
Advocate for Student Concerns and Rights
Even though the dean is bound to protect the school’s interests, they are also responsible to the student body. Even in disciplinary settings, deans usually adopt an objective role that includes providing students with information about their rights and options. Deans also represent the interests and concerns of the student body when meeting with other administrators to develop and enact policies that may impact them. They can provide a realistic or practical perspective to ensure that the school’s rules and programs produce net benefits for students.
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Administrators may not participate directly in student education, but their work supports and impacts almost every aspect of life at school. They are responsible for supporting and integrating hundreds or thousands of students each year, which can be a monumental task at larger schools. Even though the work can be difficult, post-secondary school administrators earned an average salary of almost $100,000 in 2017 and enjoy a strong job growth outlook through 2026, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many prospective administrators, the position of dean of students is an ambitious career goal that opens up opportunities to make a real difference in student life.