ERIC Number: EJ791992
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar-28
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Cotton, Raymond D.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n29 pC1 Mar 2008
A "contract" is, in its essence, a collection of legally enforceable promises that are intended to satisfy the desires of two or more parties. In the sphere of university presidents, employment contracts normally are in writing and contain both the agreed-upon economic terms and the hopes and dreams of the individuals involved. Those contracts are supposed to set out in writing the terms of the relationship between the president and the trustees. It is almost customary now for the first contract between a new president and a governing board to be for a three-year period so that both sides can "try each other out" and make sure there is a "cultural fit." Thereafter, the president is usually interested in additional job security and the board wants greater stability at the top. Renewal contracts, by mutual agreement, tend to be for five or more years. Because presidential contracts involve issues at the very heart of the operation of a college or university, those documents have grown in length. Yet according to a 2007 study of college presidents by the American Council on Education, less than half of those surveyed had sought any outside advice when they were negotiating their contracts. Of those presidents who did seek advice, most did not consult a lawyer. In fact, the most-favored people from whom advice was sought were "colleagues in the field." In this article, the author advises college presidents to consult a lawyer first before signing a multiyear contract to protect themselves and their families in case things go wrong in a presidency.
Descriptors: Governing Boards, Job Security, Legal Problems, College Presidents, Contracts, Board Administrator Relationship
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A