ERIC Number: EJ794183
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May-2
Reference Count: 0
Presidential Power and the Modern College Leader
Marcy, Mary B.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n34 pA36 May 2008
In this article, the author notes that an academic institution is essentially a political, not a corporate, system, and that its leader is more akin to the president of the United States than to a corporate chief executive. This is in spite of the argument, particularly when defending the compensation of college presidents, that leading an academic institution is similar to running a major corporation. Such statements may make sense at first blush, but they misread the academic organizational structure and the responsibilities and role of presidents. Admittedly, no college president is contemplating an invasion of Iran, and the scope of responsibilities even at the most complex university is smaller. But the essential parallel is that the vast majority of academic presidents, like the U.S. president, operate within a context of shared governance. They lead constituencies that have competing goals, with the responsibility for improving the institution in ways that are often harder to measure than market returns or profit margins. Campus climate and culture, the intellectual and social maturation of students, the depth of student-faculty interaction, and the quality of core courses are all essential elements of the academic enterprise, and all are nuanced systems that are subject to debate. Like the U.S. president, the university president operates within a complex political system characterized by constant negotiations.
Descriptors: Governance, Foreign Countries, College Presidents, College Administration, Presidents, Administrator Role, Educational Quality, Higher Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A