Superheroes of Academia

The Dean Dad takes up a critical and shamefully neglected question about the academy:

Which superhero would make the best dean at a community college and why?

It's not really my genre, but there are some good suggestions, including Batman ("His whimsical dilettante cover would make him non-threatening to members of the establishment but his secret identity allows him to be very effective in thwarting the forces of evil"), the Hulk ("Hulk respect process! RAAR!"), and Wonder Woman ("people tend to respect an authority figure who spends all day in star-spangled panties").

Batman's probably a good choice for a Deanship, being a little obsessive and technocratic. You just know that he'd be really organized about scheduling meetings, and keeping things on track. Unless he was the Adam West Batman, of course...

The Dean Dad's brother votes for Professor Xavier from the X-Men, because of his ability to control minds. Of course, even without actively wiping the minds of political opponents, telepathy would come in handy, because mind-reading is practically the only way to figure out what some faculty members are really after in meetings.

I also think there's some potential for the Green Lantern, for much the same reason that the Green Lantern Theory of foreign relations has become a standard trope on certain liberal blogs. There would be huge advantages to having a Dean with the ability to accomplish anything at all, provided he or she wanted it badly enough.

Of course, from the faculty perspective, Deans are as likely to be super-villains as super-heroes, which would open a whole new range of possibilities...

So what superhero comics character do you think is best suited to academic administration?


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Batman was my first thought, too, but then, Batman's my answer to everything. Spider-man's the only major hero (aside from Xavier) who's got a background in higher ed, but I don't know if his aborted grad school career would transfer well to administration.

If we're throwing the field open to villains as well, Lex Luthor is consistently effective as an administrator. Bit of a step down from POTUS, though.

Martian Manhunter, hands down. Telepathy, shape-changing, able to float thru solid objects -- all darned handy for being a dean. Best yet, it'd be further research for him into the human condition. Talk about character development!

By G Barnett (not verified) on 30 Mar 2007 #permalink

Well, not technically a superhero, but Darth Vader. What an administrator! Got the Death Star constructed on time and within budget.

I suppose that Lex Luthor shares that style.

Both, in some strange sense, descended from Professor James Moriarty ("the Napoleon of Crime").

His best-known academic publication is (lazily citing from wikipedia):

"The Dynamics of An Asteroid is a fictional book by Professor James Moriarty, the implacable foe of Sherlock Holmes. The book is described by author Arthur Conan Doyle in The Valley of Fear (written in 1914, but set in 1888) when Sherlock Holmes, speaking of Professor Moriarty, states

'Is he not the celebrated author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid, a book which ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that it is said that there was no man in the scientific press capable of criticizing it?'"

Based on personal experience, Professor James Moriarty is more like an evil Dean or Provost, pulling the strings of the Faculty Senate and Personnel Committee, while scamming granting agencies and skimming from capital budget.

Doctor Doom!

His credentials might not be entirely in order (I'm given to understand he's not really a doctor), but that can be overlooked in favor of the coolness of having "Dean von Doom" on one's faculty.

I think that it says something that most of the suggestions are villians or supervillians.

By Brad Holden (not verified) on 30 Mar 2007 #permalink

Of course many of the suggestions are villains or supervillains. As a group they are actors rather than reactors, they recognise the importance of obedience on the part of subordinates and generally are good at organization. On the other hand having a dean who spends most of his/her/it's time in prison or the Phantom Zone simply will not work.

So we fall back on the heroes.

Okay, Prof. X is out of consideration. Yes, he did run a school but it concentrated on special education students, his ability to deal with students that pass for normal is questionable.

Reed Richards might seem a good choice, solid but flexible and he has a good image but when you consider all the times the FF have gone bankrupt or split up you have to admit he is no administrator.

Bruce Wayne, yeah, don't you think he's already busy enough? No way would he have the time to do yet another job.

Tony Stark, no he just has too many personal problems. Besides, he public image isn't exactly admirable.

Hal Jordan, the late Green Lantern, does have what it would take but with his present condition I think he has shown he doesn't have the patience. Unless your school can handle the bad publicity of having a Hellmouth open up on campus and swallow students with unacceptable gpas, don't even consider him.

Steve Rogers does have experience having taught in high school in one or two of his incarnations. He certainly has the charisma and leadership ability needed. I realize he was assassinated recently but death has never been more than an inconvenience for any superhero.

Yep, I'll go with Cap.

I got this by email to submit:

Obviously, Superman. (Dean Cain) :-D

This comes from:

Joey Friedman


[explanation by JVP via wikipedia, see also IMDB]:

Dean Cain (born as Dean George Tanaka on July 31, 1966 in Mount Clemens, Michigan) is an American actor who is best known for his role as comic book legend Superman in the television series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, in which he co-starred with Teri Hatcher.