I have been thinking recently about the many aspects of my job. Here is a list of the experiences / education that I think are relevant. It helps to have:
A reasonable research record so that you understand what is involved in publishing research in a widely recognized, high-quality academic journal. This is critical in evaluating faculty needs.
A teaching award so that you understand what is involved in innovative teaching. This is also critical in evaluating faculty needs.
Some background in organizational behavior, so that you can manage the personalities in an academic environment. You deal with a wide range of faculty types (from the adjunct to the eminent scholar) and a wide range of staff (from the student worker to the accomplished veteran who has been with the college for decades).
You also need some understanding of leadership – at least some notion of various leadership styles.
Some knowledge of accounting, so that you can understand budgets.
Some knowledge of communications or advertising, so that you have some facility with persuasion. A popular misconception is that a dean has the power that a CEO has. This is not true.
You need to be able to create decision models and conduct analyses of many types.
It is good to understand public administration, so that you can understand legislative processes and how a legislative agenda is likely to affect your college.
You need some understanding of the law. FERPA only begins to scratch the surface of what you should understand.
Medical training would be good, so that you can evaluate a student’s request to drop a course for medical reasons.
Some of the students I see have significant troubles. An education in social work will help you deal better with the ones who struggle with dysfunctional families. An education in mental health will help you identify the ones who are depressed or schizophrenic (more common than you might think).
An education in criminology or forensic accounting will help you identify the ones who are executing a financial aid fraud.
An education in religious studies would help you understand the importance of the many religious holy days that you must evaluate when students request excused absences from exams.
Education in at least one humanity discipline and one science discipline will help you interact with your colleagues on campus.
You should have training in project management.
A study of systems would be good, so that you appreciate how the research, teaching, outreach, and administrative subsystems interact.
One thing is certain: you don’t stop learning when you take this position. Also, you need to have a good sense of humor, because some days you just have to laugh to keep your sanity!