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How to Talk With the Dean of a College About a Professor?

by Ann Wendle-Barnes, studioD

Talking to a dean is not the first step to complaining about a problem with a professor. Look at the situation and what you have done to resolve the situation. Examine what happened. Determine if you followed the syllabus and if you understood and followed the directions given by the professor. Decide if you have been treated the same as or different from other students in your class. Talk to the professor about the issue.


Attempt to resolve the problem.

You can have a mediator present when speaking to the professor prior to meeting with the dean. A mediator is not in a position above the professor. She is a person that you or the professor select. The mediator sits with the two of you as a witness to the conversation. She intervenes if a conflict or the need for clarification arises. The mediator can offer suggestions and take notes for you and the professor.

Set Up the Appointment

Gather your information.

Contact the dean’s assistant. He will ask questions to determine if an appointment with the dean is appropriate. Know what day and time you are available for the appointment. Have more than one day and time open for the meeting. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early for your appointment. Inform the dean's assistant you have an appointment with the dean. The assistant will call you when the dean is ready to speak with you.

Be Prepared

Communicate about your problem.

Be familiar with the college student complaint process when you talk to the dean. Take notes about your experience to the meeting. Define what your complaint is. Outline your concerns about the professor. Be clear about why you feel the professor treated you unfairly. Know any policies that the professor has violated. Discuss key facts about harassment that has taken place. Explain how the professor has violated the policy, harassed you or discriminated against you.

Be Professional

Communicate clearly for a resolution.

It's a professional meeting. Don't wear casual clothes. It is not a hearing. You and the dean should be the only people present, unless you have made other arrangements with the dean. Shake her hand when you meet her. Do not use slang. Speak to the dean as though you were in a job interview. Present your problem. Discuss a resolution with the dean. Know what you would like the dean to do.

About the Author

Ann Wendle-Barnes is based in Hampton Roads, Va., and has a background in education and English literature pre-K through graduate studies. She has been writing in the education field since 2000. Wendle holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in higher education.

Photo Credits

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