Strategy for Evaluating Academic Administrators
Raoul A. Arreola, Ph.D.
Identify appropriate evaluative
constituencies. Common constituencies
Internal office staff of the Administrator-To-Be-Evaluated (ATBE)
b. Staff of other administratorŐs
whose work is directly impacted by the work of the ATBEŐs internal office staff
c. Faculty within the
d. Faculty directly
impacted by the actions of the ATBE even though they may not be in the
e. Administrators who are
peers in the sense that their position is approximately at the same level and
who report to the same supervisor as the ATBE
f. Other administrators
whose assignment brings them into professional contact with the ATBE and/or the
ATBEŐs internal office staff.
g. The ATBEŐs supervisor
Develop List of Possible Descriptors. Develop a list of
qualities, characteristics, and behaviors that both the administrators to be
evaluated, and the people within a given evaluative constituency, agree are
descriptive of a good academic administrator. In the case of the supervisor, that list
will have most likely already been defined by the position description.
List of Descriptors. Develop a consensus
list of qualities, characteristics, and behaviors by selecting those statements
that at least 60% of both the administrators to be evaluated and the
constituents who will be providing the evaluative information select as being
descriptive of a good academic administrator.
Questionnaire(s)/ Rating Form(s) that reflects the consensus list of qualities,
characteristics and descriptors.
Various forms may have to be developed is different consensus lists of
descriptors emerge for different types of administrators.
Mechanism. Establish appropriate
feedback mechanisms to report the evaluative information to the
administrator. This mechanism
should maintain the anonymity of the individual constituent and should report
only statistical summaries of the responses made by those completing the
Policies and appropriate procedures and support mechanisms to assist the
administrator in both enhancing those strengths and/or overcoming those
weaknesses detected by the evaluation procedure.
Link Performance to
Reward Structure. Develop policies that
clearly relate performance evaluation data to the administrative reward
structure. Link pay raise,
promotion, continuation appointment, and termination decisions clearly and
unambiguously to the information resulting from administrator evaluation. Establish specific performance
evaluation criteria for each decision.
Unlike the evaluation of faculty performance, wherein
the measurement of such difficult to define dimensions as teaching
effectiveness or ability to promote learning are involved, the evaluation of
university administrators requires the assessment of fairly specific and
observable personal characteristics and accomplishments. In order to reasonably assess administrative
effectiveness it is first necessary to realize that such effectiveness is a
product of an interactive relationship between the administrator and the
various constituencies impacted by the administratorŐs performance; in essence
it is a social quality that must be assessed in terms of social interaction (Remmers and Hobson, 1951). Thus the perceptions of those who
interact with the administrator must be considered as an important component of
an administrator evaluation system.
In addition there are critical non-social-interactive components of
total administrative effectiveness that require a more structured form of
evaluation. Such non
social-interactive components include the administrator's ability to accomplish
their unit's mission with the resources provided, or the administratorŐs
ability to select the most efficacious means of approaching the solution to a
problem. The evaluation of these
non-socially interactive functions can be accomplished by conventional means
such as those employed in program evaluation and cost benefit analyses. In this regard, it is relatively easy to
tell whether an administrator's unit has stayed within its budget or whether it
has accomplished its mission. It is
also relatively easy to ascertain whether a unit failed in its mission because
it was allocated insufficient funds or because the funds were misused or
mismanaged by the administrator.
These facets of administrative activity are important to consider and
evaluate but require a fairly intimate knowledge of the responsibilities,
resources and restraints under which the administrator must work. For this reason, the evaluation
of these activities is best carried out by the administrator's supervisor or
supervisory board. However,
in a college or university setting, the unique role of an administrator in
establishing the tone, morale and even the very spirit of the unit being
supervised, is of such import to the successful operation of the university as
a whole that the social-interactive characteristics of a university
administrator should be among the primary variables to be considered in any
Since a college/university deals not only with the
development and transmission of knowledge but also in the formulation and
maintenance of societal attitudes, goals and mors,
the importance of the "atmosphere" an administrator creates cannot be
over-stressed. The strength of a
university lies not simply in its financial resources, but in the attitude,
dedication and intellectual motivation of its faculty, students and staff. Since the administrator is, in essence,
the controller of resources and policies that affect the professional climate
in which these three groups of people must work, an administrator can
significantly affect the overall strength of an institution. It is important, therefore, to consider
input from at least these three groups or constituencies in the development of
a system for evaluating university administrators.
As with a faculty evaluation system, an Academic
Administrator Evaluation system should include information from a variety of
appropriate sources or constituencies.
In designing an academic administrator evaluation system the following
sources/constituencies should be considered:
1. SUPERORDINATE: The administrator's supervisor or
supervisory board (can provide information on the success of the administrator
in accomplishing the unit's mission with consideration being given to the
resources made available).
2. PEER academic
administrators – others in the institution who hold the same or similar
academic administrative positions (such as deans of other colleges or other
department chairs within the same college).
a. The administrator's
immediate office staff;
b. Faculty, including those who may not be under the direct
administrative authority of the administrator. This evaluation should be in terms of
assessing how well the administrator is perceived to be discharging those
duties of his position that may directly, or indirectly, influence the attitude
and performance of the faculty.
c. The administrator's
organizational subordinates NOT on the immediate office staff. For example, a Dean should be evaluated
not only by the office staff, but also by all department heads under the DeanŐs
authority and (perhaps) the department headsŐ office staff.
a. Career staff or
students who are directly affected as a consequence of the administratorŐs
overall responsibilities and duties. For example, the position of Registrar has
a constituency that includes faculty, staff and students. A proper evaluation strategy for this
position would include input from all three sources.
b. Other impacted
constituencies – such as career staff or students who are directly
affected as a consequence of the administratorŐs overall responsibilities and
duties. For example, the position of Registrar has a constituency that includes
faculty, staff and students. A
proper evaluation strategy for this position would include input from all three
5. SELF - the
administrator being evaluated can provide information that includes a
self-assessment of his/her performance within the perceived environment.
Having shaped the rationale for evaluating administrators, a two-fold
problem requires solution before an administrator evaluation system can be
implemented. Basically the problem
is to determine (1) What are the specific components of administrative
performance that should be evaluated, and (2) Who should do the evaluating for
each administrative position?
Experience in the development of faculty evaluation systems had shown that
unless the individuals to be evaluated have meaningful input in answering these
basic questions, the evaluation system would not be readily accepted or
trusted. An appropriate strategy
for answering these questions should include systematically seeking such input
from the administrators themselves.
Since administrator schedules are traditionally quite tight, it is
generally difficult to obtain in-depth reviews from them as to what specific
components of their performance should be evaluated. In the event that such is the case, one
effective strategy is to prepare a broad list of administrative performance
components and ask the administrators to check those that apply to their