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Higher Ed in the News

National census of chief academic officers

February 16, 2009

The first comprehensive survey of American chief academic officers has found that nearly two-thirds are very satisfied with their positions yet the average length of time spent in the job is quite short, on average 4.7 years (compared with 8.7 years amang presidents), and half find insufficient funds a major frustration.

The American Council on Education, or ACE, released the census during its 91st annual meeting, held in Washington, D.C. last week.

Among the survey's major finding are that 85% percent of all chief academic officers are white, 6% are African American, 4% are Hispanic, 2% are Asian American, and around 1% are American Indian. Also, 40 % are women.

Sixty-three percent of chief academic officers are very satisfied in their position and 33% are somewhat satisfied. Also, 65% list curriculum and academic programmes as among their most time-consuming activities, followed by supervising and managing personnel (57%) and accountability, accreditation and assessment (47%).

Top frustrations "include never having enough money (48%), the difficulty of cultivating leadership in others (34%), and the belief by others that they are infinitely accessible by vehicles such as e-mail and meetings (32%)."

Most chief academic officers previously served as dean of an academic college (27%), followed by campus executive in academic affairs (23%) or a different chief academic officer position (13%). The most common career moves after a CAO position, as reported by successors, are to retire (21%), move into a presidency (20%) or return to the faculty (18%).

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