AUPN’s Leading Edge Podcast Premiere: Should you become a Dean?

The Voice of Academic Neurology's Leaders

We are very pleased to present the premiere of AUPN’s Leading Edge Podcast:  “So you want to be a Dean?  Pros, cons, joys and tribulations”, featuring Dr. Charles Lockwood, Dean of the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Senior Vice President of USF Health.  Prior to coming to USF, Dr. Lockwood was Dean at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, and also served twice as a Department Chair, at both NYU and Yale.  The podcast is free and available now at Apple ( and iTunes) and on Spotify on the below links.

So should you be a Dean?  Highly successful Chairs are often among the first candidates considered for open Dean positions, and transitioning from Chair to Dean is widely considered a next logical step on the academic career ladder.  Many of you may have already been contacted by a search firm for just such a position, while others will be in the future, or you may be considered as an internal candidate when your own Dean leaves or retires.  However, the jobs of Chair and Dean are quite different, so it is important to thoroughly understand yourself and your motivations before making this move.  As with all jobs, an inventory of your career passions is an important first step.  Are you most enthused about your progress in the lab, your clinical practice, and teaching residents, graduate and medical students?  Do you prize the intellectual fellowship of your like-minded academic colleagues in neurology and neuroscience?  Is your career goal to advance our understanding of and/or treatments for neurological disease?  If so, then you might not find fulfillment as a Dean.  If, on the other hand, you most enjoy building and managing the clinical practice, research operations and educational programs of your department, crafting and managing the departmental budget, handling human resource issues, raising money from donors, navigating your way successfully through the regulatory jungle and immersing yourself in the world of medical center and university politics, becoming a Dean might be your destiny. 

However, becoming a Dean not out of enthusiasm for the job, but just because you think it is the next step up the ladder, or because your colleagues expect it, or because it pays more can be a recipe for great unhappiness and ultimate failure.  The Dean’s job is difficult enough, and high enthusiasm for the position is absolutely critical in order to weather the storms at the top of that especially windy mountain.  Of course, beyond all of this, you need to be confident you have the necessary experience and skills to succeed as Dean.  To make this determination, you must first understand the precise nature of the particular Dean’s job you are pursuing, as the spectrum is broad (from a pure academic Dean with little fiscal authority or control over the clinical practice, to a combined Dean & VP/Health System Chancellor charged with running all aspects of the medical school along with the other health professions schools and colleges, as well as the clinical practice and health care network).   

Job security is another important consideration.  The Chair’s job (provided you and your department are performing well) is reasonably secure, but the Dean’s job has a much higher profile within the university and the community at large, and the scale of the operation the Dean oversees is much broader.  Consequently, Deans are more often at risk of dismissal because of changing preferences in the President’s office or within the Board of Trustees, or for other reasons outside of their control (e.g. because of their responsibilities as “captain of the ship”, such as being held responsible for the criminal misbehavior of a faculty member, even if the Dean could not have reasonably known about or prevented the transgression).

Some of you will probably become great Deans one day, but the rest of us should always remember that being a Chair is a noble goal in and of itself.  Should the potential for a Dean’s job come your way, choose wisely; your future self will thank you. 

On another note, the reception of our newly revamped newsletter has been very positive, and thanks to everyone who has provided supportive feedback.  As you know, we are hard at work developing a variety of new AUPN multimedia products and resources, such as our podcast series, the new Leadership Minute, and other projects.  Consequently, the AUPN newsletter will transition from weekly to every other week starting with the next issue to allow us to devote more time to these other efforts, but with the same great content and Resource Links  

Also, don’t forget that the AUPN and ANA virtual fall meetings are only a few weeks away; if you have not already done so, please register at the below links.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Clifton L. Gooch, MD
AUPN President

Today’s Resource Links

Registration: AUPN & ANA Fall Meetings & Career Fair
Register for the AUPN Meeting at AUPN Meeting Registration, and for the ANA meeting at  Due to our shared virtual platform, you must register for the ANA meeting to be able to register for the AUPN meeting.  AUPN registration is a member benefit at no extra charge and ANA Meeting registration is free for ANA members this year (join the ANA at ANA Membership).  ANA-AUPN Career Fair registration (fee) is at

Listen to the premiere episode of AUPN’s Leading Edge Podcast:  “So you want to be a Dean? Pros, cons, joys and tribulations

Apple & iTunes



Open Neurology Leadership Positions:

Case Western Reserve University SOM: Professor & Chair - Dept. of Neurology
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center: Professor & Chair - Dept. of Neurology
University of Washington: Professor & Chair - Department of Neurology
University of Pittsburgh: Professor & Chair - Department of Neurology

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