Professional Administrators?

Writing about Copying Harvard (well, a wee bit) from Prole Art Threat

The concept of being a professional administrator seems to be one
which is unique to the fields of education, health and national and
local government.

Amongst my non-academic colleagues here at
Warwick there is a very definite divide between those individuals who
see themselves as ‘generalists’ and therefore professional
administrators and those who see themselves as ‘specialists’ and
therefore people who happen to work in their area of expertise (the
fact that it is in a University is immaterial).

There has
been a lot of talk recently about the benefits of ‘rotation’ or
secondments in breaking down the perceived divide between
administrators in academic departments and administrators working in
central services.

The idea is that by walking in someone else’s shoes for a bit you:

  • get an understanding of the whole process, not just your end of it,
  • gain a rounded understanding of university administration, and
  • learn more about the University

This is an excellent concept for improving internal
communication and increasing give and take and is very popular amongst
friends and coleagues who consider themselves to be generalists.

The question is – how do you define which staff members are specialists and which generalists?

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Comments
3 Responses to “Professional Administrators?”
  1. John Dale says:

    how do you define which staff members are specialists and which generalists?

    Well,
    perhaps one starting point would be to define what a generalist (or a
    “professional administrator”) actually does or is particularly good at.
    It’s easy with a specialist, I guess; if somebody specialises in, say,
    teaching maths, then one presumes that that’s what they do and
    (hopefully!) are good at.

    But what’s a generalist good at? Everything? That sounds a bit optimistic… 😉

  2. Perhaps a generalist is, in part, defined by empathy?

    get an understanding of the whole process, not just your end of it,
    gain a rounded understanding of university administration, and
    learn more about the University

  3. Casey Leaver says:

    I think the main difference is that generalists are dedicated to a career in one of the sectors that I mentioned.

    And that as such they don’t mind moving from administrative project to project:

    e.g: Admissions => Departmental Admin => Estates

    Student Services => Timetabling

    Student Recruitment => Governance etc.

    As
    I mentioned I can see the benefits of getting a grounding in a variety
    of parts of the organisation – a bit like a beefed-up management
    training programme.

    But I also think that people who regard themselves as specialists would view a ‘rotation’ system with horror!

    So, short of asking everyone individually, how do you choose who to include and who not to?

    Or maybe that’s the answer, it’s about personal career planning and it has to be a personal choice.

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