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The Bell-Shaped Career Curve

Institutional Culture

The Bell-Shaped Career Curve

There are far fewer deans than chairs and only one provost and president per institution. So inevitably many of those dreams aren’t going to be fulfilled. But it’s not as though most administrators are frustrated by that reality or end their careers with a sense of failure. Somewhere along the way, many of them decide that the next level of administration isn’t really for them. If they try several times to reach the next level but never make it, they may conclude that further movement up the hierarchy just isn’t worth the effort. Often these people then have a career curve shaped not like the contrail of a jet on takeoff, but like the familiar bell. The person’s path moves from the faculty to administration and then back to the faculty, a modern Cincinnatus rather than Caesar.

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