A colleague of mine was a very successful, well funded, highly published post-doc at a top-20 university who abdicated her post for industry. Having grown tired of industry, she now toys with the idea of returning to academia, but dreams of a role in administration (higher level, as [associate/assistant][dean/director of x]). She believes that her experience in industry, coupled with strong academic history, may make her a strong candidate. Yet there are few specific examples I can find of academic-turned-industry-turned-administrator.

Specific questions:

  1. What is the distribution of administrator posts awarded to pure academics (e.g., step-ups from PI/professor) vs individuals already in administrator roles?
  2. What is the distribution of administrator posts made internally vs external hire?
  3. Anecdotes of industry-to-academic administrator success stories greatly appreciated.
  • I do not know any of these answers, but I thought it's worth mentioning that some institutions have "Professor of the Practice" positions that seem to be targeted at people like your colleague (except for the administration part).
    – eclarkso
    Feb 14, 2018 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


In my limited experience, high-level administrator posts filled by current-or-former academics fall under one of the following categories:

  • Ex-officio with being a Full Professor somewhere (with perhaps some rotation among Professors)
  • Carried out by regular Full Professors on temporary leave from their academic duties, or in parallel with a much-reduced regular academic workload.
  • Carried out by Professors Emeritus, or people who academically-retire early from their position as Full Professor to do only managerial work
  • Populated only by people who have a special long-standing relation with the academic institution (and aren't Full Professors).

I have encountered a few exceptions to the above, but those were extremely rare.

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