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The role of the College Dean

The role played by the typical college dean in American institutions of higher learning is a complex and demanding role. On one level, Deans are expected to be completely dedicated to upholding the mission and vision of a college or university. Yet on another level they are required to provide ethical leadership at all times (Deeds, 2004). Unfortunately, these two requirements often conflict and create unique challenges for the practicing dean. While striving to uphold the mission of their college or university, many Deans find they must set aside doing what is ethically and morally right in order to accomplish the mission of the institution.

The problem focused on for this study is the fact that unethical behavior continues to be found in college dean/director leadership. The literature reports factors that may be related to this unethical behavior (personal stress, managerial stress, ego soothing, leadership goals, unethical choices, and ethical choices). A study is needed to determine college deans/directors' perceptions regarding these factors and the relationship between these perceptions (of factors) and perceptions of unethical college dean/director leadership.

Ethical leadership, defined as leadership that focuses on the needs of an organization, including providing guidance, setting direction, and empowering a scholarly community (Gmelch & Wolverton, 2002), leads to environments in which ethical values are instilled in others. In contrast, unethical leadership can lead to problematic environments and a need to address potential legal issues. Calabrese and Roberts (2002) reviewed newspapers and magazines for the prior five years and found over 600 stories on school administrator misconduct in the United States. Ethical lapses on the part of deans, superintendents, principals, and teachers inflict harm on those who have placed trust in them (Calabrese & Roberts, 2002).

The purpose of this study is to unders...

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