Finding (and Keeping) the Right College President
November 11, 2012
The current practice of identifying, nurturing and providing for succession planning for college and university presidents has led to a crisis within higher education.
In a The Huffington Post blog in July, we looked at the reasons behind the need for college and university presidents to lead in higher education and more broadly across American society.
The opportunity for leadership, however, begins with the selection of the right president. The choice can vary dramatically across institutions and even within a particular time and place in an institution’s history. Why is it that finding and supporting a college president is so difficult today?
Opinions vary, but there are at least eight themes that answer this question:
- Respect for the office of the president has decreased dramatically
- The nature of the job has changed
- The position has become more corporate; assuming more the role of CEO than the head of a community of learners
- Higher percentages of presidents chosen from non-traditional backgrounds
- Many “traditional” recruits are unprepared for responsibilities beyond their normal role
- Boards prevent leadership from taking strong positions that might encourage controversy no matter how needed the reform
- Tenure of presidents is no longer long enough for a leader to build credibility within the community and
- The pool of candidates is shrinking
The fact is that, while there are several good programs to introduce presidents and even occasionally train them for some aspects of the job, this training is episodic, spotty and inconsistent at best.
The current practice of identifying, nurturing and providing for succession planning for college and university presidents has led to a crisis within higher education. What is most needed is a plan to educate prospects, identify leaders, prepare them, and support the institution when they leave or retire.
American higher education cannot afford the luxury of badly trained, well-intentioned but clueless leaders. Life cycle training for presidents is critical to the case that American higher education must make for itself on the global stage. For new presidents, where you came from and what you know may be less important than in how you are trained to put it all together throughout your tenure.
To read the full article, you may view it here on Huffington Post.