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An academic administration is a branch of university or college employees responsible for the maintenance and supervision of the institution and separate from the faculty or academics, although some personnel may have joint responsibilities. Some type of separate administrative structure exists at almost all academic institutions, as fewer and fewer schools are governed by employees who are also involved in academic or scholarly work. Many administrators are academics with advanced degrees who no longer teach or conduct research actively.

Key responsibilities

Key administrative responsibilities (and thus administrative units) in academic institutions include:
  • Admissions
  • Supervision of academic affairs such as hiring, promotion, tenure, and evaluation (with faculty input where appropriate);
  • Maintenance of official records (typically supervised by a registrar in the US - In the UK the Registrar is in charge of all non academic matters);
  • Maintenance and audit of financial flows and records;
  • Oversight of student life and activities, such as religious or cultural groups, career centers and public service centers.
  • Library and archive management (by librarians and archivists);
  • Maintenance and construction of campus buildings (the physical plant);
  • Maintenance of the campus grounds;
  • Safety and security of people and property on the campus (often organized as an office of public safety or campus police);
  • Supervision and support of campus computers and network (information technology).
  • Fundraising from private individuals and foundations ("development" or "advancement")
  • Research administration (including grants and contract administration, and institutional compliance with federal and state regulations)
  • Public affairs (including relations with the media, the community, and local, state, and federal governments)

United States

Academic administrations are structured in various ways at different institutions and in different countries.

Presidents and chancellors

In the United Statesmarker, a college or university is typically supervised by a President or Chancellor who reports regularly to a Board of Trustees (made up of individuals from outside the institution) and who serves as Chief Executive Officer. Most large colleges and universities now use an administrative structure with a tier of vice presidents, among whom the Provost (or Vice President for Academic Affairs) serves as the chief academic officer.


Deans may supervise various and more specific aspects of the institution, or may be CEO of an entire campus. They may report directly to the president or chancellor. The division of responsibility among deans varies widely among institutions; some are chiefly responsible for clusters of academic fields (such as the humanities or natural sciences) or whole academic units (such as a graduate school or college), while others are responsible for non-academic but campus-wide concerns such as minority affairs. In some cases a provost supervises the institution's entire academic staff, occupying a position generally superior to any dean. In other instances the Dean of a College may be the equivalent to a Provost or Vice Chancellor or Vice President of Academic Affairs. Below deans in the administrative hierarchy are heads of individual academic departments and of individual administrative departments from groundskeeping to libraries to registrars of records. These heads (commonly styled "chairs") then supervise the staff of their individual departments.

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