Challenges in the Establishment of a New Faculty: Experiences of the Founding Deans and Faculty Members

Assist. Prof., Bahcesehir University-Turkey.


Problem Statement: Academic deans play a critical role connecting academic and administrative operations and structures within their respective Faculties and universities. There is a wide array of research about deans, what they do, their leadership skills, challenges, and experiences. However, the research is quite limited in terms of the processes of establishing a faculty from scratch and how people experience this whole establishment process. In the light of the fact that there are a growing number of new universities emerging in Turkey, research to understand effective practices by academic deans to recruit and support new faculty is critical.

Purpose of the Study: This study aims at describing the establishment process of university faculties as experienced by the founding deans and faculty members focusing on the challenging and facilitating factors they faced and how these factors are managed.

Methods: Qualitative method and case study technique were used. The case is a foundation university that established 3 new faculties in the year 2012. The deans of each faculty and all of the faculty members (n=8) who took part during the establishment process were interviewed as part of the data collection. The data were then analyzed with content analysis technique.

Findings and Results: The common themes that emerged out of deans’ and faculty members’ interviews are vision, challenges, facilitators, managing challenges, and advice for founding teams. The most important challenge is the Council of Higher Education’s stringent regulations during the approval process. University’s supportive mechanisms, team spirit among the academic staff, and participatory leadership style of the dean are the highlighted facilitators during the establishment of a new faculty.

Conclusions and Recommendations: The bureaucratic procedures and regulations of Higher Education Council should be restructured. As deans are expected to possess certain personal, academic and professional skills, programs like higher education management and leadership should be started and prospective deans should be encouraged to attend to such programs.

Keywords: Faculty establishment, deanship, challenges of establishing a faculty, higher education.