Chief Academic Officers. Also called Provost, Academic Dean, Dean of Faculty, or Vice-President of Academic Affairs – the CAO is the primary administrator in charge of the academic core of the institution. CAOs and their staff oversee department chairs, approve new classes, minors, and majors, as well as review cases of struggling students. These people are instrumental in implementing change in the educational structure of a course, department, or campus. Students tend not to come in contact with CAOs unless they are in academic trouble, and therefore CAOs often go unknown for most students. CAOs commonly have discretionary funds, their own private budgets, that they can give out for any project they deem worthy.