The Not-So-Big Man on Campus

College presidents are difficult to hire but all too easy to send packing. How can we make the college presidency a force for good?

Published on: February 21, 2014
George M. Guess is co-director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University.
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  • Andrew Allison

    Let me first confess that I didn’t get past the sub-head: “How can we make the college presidency a force for good?” Let’s start with a job description and measuring performance against it.
    What, exactly, is the role of a college president? Might I suggest that as what is ,in this day and age, the CEO of a business, a college president’s job is to deliver the best possible return to the “company’s” shareholders. Who are the shareholders?
    I submit that they are the students who go into hock to attend, suggesting that the ROI for the students is some combination of how many of them actually graduate and their net income after repayment of their student loans.
    This leaves aside the recent discussion here of the utterly insupportable increase in administrative overhead, which any CEO worth his or her salt would move immediately to rectify. An additional force for good might be establishing a maximum administrative overhead percentage of expenditures.

  • Fat_Man

    Trachtenberg was the President of GWU in DC. IIRC, he left the place over indebted and with ridiculously high tuition.

  • Anthony

    Is author of review essay endorsing college president career coaching as offered? Organizational leadership models/philosophies and transformations thereto have long U.S. history; culturally what’s new.

  • HalfromNY

    “An even bigger red flag is when the candidate won’t drink at all for non-medical reasons.”

    But among the recovering alcoholics, etc., are some wonderful, talented, and sober (in the best sense) people. Do you really think it’s wise or fair to rule them out categorically?

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