I have long academic experiences in African universities (where I studied and am based). I had various administrative positions such as head, dean, vice president. Academically, I have supervised tens of students and published many paper in high impact journals. Now I want to apply for a position in American universities (for example, a Dean position).

When I compare my credentials and academic/administrative experiences with current Deans of American universities, I am fully comparable, but my worry is:

  1. Do the search committee needs American experience for appointing someone in an American university?

  2. Do the search committee consider academic experiences in developing countries not-competitive to American candidates?

I understand that there might be personal views, but is it the general strategies of search committees?

  • it sounds like you're asking about administrative positions rather than academic positions. Is that correct ?
    – Suresh
    Apr 6, 2014 at 18:29
  • @Suresh yes I basically ask about administrative positions but I appreciate comments on both.
    – user13854
    Apr 6, 2014 at 19:02
  • I do not intend to be rude, but why would someone hire an administrator that has no experience in the American academic system (either as student, researcher/administrator). Usually Deans were at some point full time professors in some American University first. May 7, 2014 at 20:21
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    Yes, but student skills are perfectly transferable, for example a very good software programmer will be good in whatever country. Yet, to be a University Deans involves a political element that has a lot to do with networking. My only point is that given that they have plenty of candidates from the US system that already knows fully well how to navigate these politics, why would they hire someone that has to learn it. May 8, 2014 at 14:08
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    I imagine that a professor from Oxford that did his PhD in the US (or Postdoc, or had a research experience) might look as an interesting candidate. To be honest, I think that when they encourage international applications, they encourage high profile universities, and people who at least had some experience living in the US May 10, 2014 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


To answer your questions:

  1. They do not require, but they will usually prefer someone who is familiar with the academic system that they use. For example, small liberal arts colleges will usually prefer people with experience with small liberal arts colleges.

  2. Perhaps not "not competitive" but certainly "less competitive" unless you are in a Tier 1 school in a nation that is known to have competitive tertiary education.

People have already noted in comments that there are two types of deans at American academic institutions:

  • Academic deans who are heads of units (the Dean of the Graduate School, for example). These are usually promoted from within the current faculty body but on rare occasions are brought in from outside.

  • Non-academic deans or deans of student services (the Dean of Career Services, for example). These can be promoted (or laterally transferred) from the faculty body but are more often hired for that particular role and specialty. Non-academic deans are much more mobile -- for better or for worse. They move from institution to institution, hopefully moving up the ranks.

I would say that in your case the possibility of moving into an academic dean slot are very small. You do have much more hope for a position as a non-academic dean.

I should note that one option that is open to you is to apply for a senior faculty position in a university with the intent of becoming Chair, then a Dean within that institution. There are often job postings listed for departments that explicitly want senior faculty -- including senior faculty who are willing to immediate Chair the department.

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