The term "dean" can be intimidating to many students, as can "faculty." Add them together and you have one official-sounding title without much clarification. So just what exactly is a dean of faculty?
A dean of faculty can have several similar titles, depending on each college or university. The position might be referred to as a "provost," "dean of academic affairs," "vice president of academic affairs," "dean of the college," or something similar. Regardless, the role often focuses primarily on one thing: providing leadership for the academic side of your college or university.
Just like a dean of students is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of students on campus, the dean of faculty is charged with similar responsibilities for the faculty. He or she often has the final say in the hiring (and firing) of professors, deals with making sure your school stays (or gets) accredited, oversees the development of new majors and minors, is responsible for a significant portion of the institution's budget, and overall deals both proactively and reactively with all kinds of issues that come up that have anything at all to do with academics.
Most students won't ever interact with their dean of faculty. If, however, you have serious concerns about a faculty member, an academic program, course content, or any other academic issue, your dean of faculty can help find a solution (though you should check with your dean of students first). Additionally, many deans of faculty are often current or former professors. In sum: While the dean of faculty may sound intimidating, he or she is often a very interesting (and busy!) member of your campus community who is working hard to ensure your college education is the very best it can possibly be.