Provost vs. Dean: Differentiating Two Key Higher Education Roles
Defining the Roles of Provost vs. Dean
Similarities Between the Two Roles
- Leadership. Provosts and deans must lead if they are to inspire change that will improve educational systems. If a dean sees that students in a certain department are dropping out at above-average rates, for instance, he or she might meet with employees in that department to identify hurdles and come up with solutions.
- Analytical thinking. To ensure that a college or university is delivering on its promise of a quality education, deans and provosts must have solid critical thinking skills. If a provost is interested in increasing enrollment numbers, for instance, he or she might take a look at whether there are new programs the college or university could offer that would attract more students. With an analytical, research-based approach — for instance scoping out other schools’ programs and current trends in the job market — the provost might realize that a new program in a cutting-edge field such as cybersecurity could be beneficial in attracting students.
- Communication. Deans and provosts must be able to communicate clearly with diverse groups of individuals. They might interact with administrative employees, academic staff, students, families of students, and donors to the university or college. No matter who they talk to, they must present themselves with professionalism as a representative of the university or college.