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On Being Presidential: A Guide for College and University Leaders

ISBN: 978-1-118-02776-9
240 pages
November 2011, Jossey-Bass
On Being Presidential: A Guide for College and University Leaders (1118027760) cover image


Praise for On Being Presidential

"This is the best book I've ever read on being a college president."—Arthur Levine, president, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and president emeritus, Teachers College, Columbia University

"A must-read for anyone involved in higher education. Susan Resneck Pierce's cautionary tales and commonsense approach to college management present, in a very entertaining way, the 'dos' and 'don'ts' of effective postsecondary academic leadership. Highly recommended... I am so enthusiastic that I plan to share On Being Presidential with two new university presidents!"—Barbara Young, vice-chair, Sweet Briar College Board of Directors, and two-time appointee to the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees

"Susan Pierce provides an insightful guide to the successful presidency, lessons based not on theory but gleaned from meaningful experiences. Nearly every page contains pearls of wisdom both for college and university presidents and for those who aspire to lead campuses."—Constantine W. Curris, president emeritus, American Association of State Colleges and Universities

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

About the Author xxi

Part I Being an Effective President

1. Some Cautionary Tales 3

2. The President and the Board 23

3. The President and the Campus 53

4. Nothing Happens Until Money Happens 83

5. Crafting a Private Life in a Public Context 103

6. Letting Go and Leaving Gracefully 117

7. The Pleasures of the Presidency 129

Part II Becoming an Effective President

8. The Future of the College Presidency 143

9. Back to the Beginning: The Search Process 167

References 191

Resources 195

Index 197

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Author Information

Susan Resneck Pierce is president emerita of the University of Puget Sound. As president of SRP Consulting, she advises colleges and universities on planning, effective board and presidential performance, board development, governance, and fundraising.
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Press Release

February 29, 2012
On Being Presidential: A Guide for College and University Leaders

On Being Presidential: A Guide for College and University Leaders

San Francisco, CA - Although academic leadership has always been demanding, in recent decades it has become more so. As the cost of higher education escalates, so does the demand from parents and students for amenities and services. The economic downturn has required that presidents, vice presidents, and deans not only understand the academic enterprise but that they can lead successful strategic planning processes. These senior administrators are also expected to allocate and reallocate resources in a fiscally responsible way, sometimes laying off faculty and staff, eliminating programs and cutting departmental budgets, salaries, and benefits. Presidents are further expected to position the institution more advantageously, tell its story to both external and internal audiences in an articulate and persuasive way, raise money, and be “present” on campus.

On campuses and among trustees there is often a lack of understanding of what the president does (and should do), the larger issues facing the institution, and issues that the president grapples with on a daily basis. This lack of understanding too tends to be accompanied by confusion about the appropriate role and responsibilities not only of the faculty but also of the president and the trustees. As a result, the faculty, administration, and the board can find themselves at odds over governance, which can paralyze institutions and lead to failed presidencies.

Adequate training is hard to come by and applicable experience more and more rare. This book provides presidents, senior administrators, faculty leaders, and trustees with a guide to fulfilling their responsibilities and recommendations to aspiring presidents about how they can best prepare for a successful presidency.

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