What Does an Academic Manager Do?

Kenneth W. Michael Wills

An academic manager will plan, implement and manage an institution’s academic programs. Using leadership skills, along with support initiatives, he or she is responsible for the ultimate outcome of program performance. Such tasks include ensuring resource availability and proper academic alignment with graduating student’s objectives. Requiring initiative, academic managers will ascertain program deficiencies and fix them. Regular duties of the role involve attention to detail and include — but are not limited to — conducting educational research, improving academic experiences, guiding academic staff, and making changes to curriculum when needed.

Academic managers assist teachers with lesson plans.
Academic managers assist teachers with lesson plans.

When academic managers review an academic program, they will take into account a variety of factors to determine performance and viability. These factors will often include student performance, learning outcomes, communications, teacher performance, and curriculum objectives. Upon consideration of these factors, the academic manager will assess the overall program, identify deficiencies, and make required changes to improve both quality and performance. Those reviews are the focus of the academic manager role, because they usually uncover issues related to under-performance in the classroom and, just as importantly, after graduation when students enter the workforce or prepare for higher levels of study.

An academic manager might asses how successful a teacher is at conveying subject matter.
An academic manager might asses how successful a teacher is at conveying subject matter.

Carrying out such reviews involves conducting research, analyzing the results, and making decisions based on conclusions drawn. Research involved may be observational, literature review or a combination of these and other qualitative studies. The review of academic programs also involves monitoring other academic staff, often including teachers and administrative personnel. Processes are also reviewed, as in monitoring how teachers deliver the curriculum to students; however, administrative procedures are just as important, such determining whether student’s needs are met accordingly without impacting their studies. Rather than following specific educational theories to ascertain performance, the academic manager will use scientific methods and business analysis to qualify issues uncovered and make changes accordingly.

Ensuring program objectives and implementing any required changes is also an important part of academic management. Consistently monitoring teaching methods, materials and classroom environments, the role involves guiding staff and providing the appropriate support to help achieve academic quality. Assisting teachers with lessons plans as well as conducting teacher observations and classroom observations are tasks commonly associated with this process. Briefing teachers, administrative staff and students on changes to academic programs is also important to the role to ensure uniformity. Academic managers may also fill in for teachers in their absence.

Placement of academic managers is found in all types of organizations, most notably in educational institutions and corporations. In corporations, the role is usually found within human resources under the purview of employee training. With private educational institutions, however, the role of the academic manager is usually highly visible and often a focal point.

An academic manager may monitor teaching methods and the classroom environment.
An academic manager may monitor teaching methods and the classroom environment.

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