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Articles: Leadership

Stephen Trachtenberg is president emeritus of George Washington University.

Not too long ago, the average tenure of a college or university president was 8.5 years, but with the increasing demands of the job, it’s no surprise that number is shrinking. A new book called Presidencies Derailed: Why University Leaders Fail and How to Prevent It (Johns Hopkins, 2013) sheds light on the often acrimonious problems that develop among a president, the board, and the institution.

After writing and editing for University Business more than a decade ago, and then becoming editor-in-chief and executive editor of our sister education publication, District Administration, for K12 superintendents, it is an enormous privilege to step into this new role as columnist for both magazines and editor at large (although my wife says it is more accurate to say editor at “extra-large”).

  • E. Gordon Gee, known for enhancing the academic profile of The Ohio State University and for his expansive bow tie collection, retired on July 1. He served as president of Ohio State from 1990 to 1997 and from 2007 to 2013, during which he contributed to strengthening the university’s long-term financial condition, most recently helping to raise more than $1.6 billion in private support. Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph A. Alutto, previously executive vice president and provost, has taken over as interim president.

Where can administrators go for ideas and answers to questions about Clery Act compliance? Soon, it may be easier to learn what peers are up to in this area. On July 1, the Clery Center for Security On Campus launched the new year-long Collaborative Learning Program. Representatives from 34 Pennsylvania institutions can learn about Clery together and self-assess their compliance efforts, says Alison Kiss, executive director for the Clery Center.

In effect since 1991 and amended several times since, the Clery Act requires colleges and universities with federal student financial aid programs to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses.

This May, the news broke that Yale University had been fined $165,000 by the U.S. Department of Education for Clery Act violations. The charges against Yale are considered significant and serious: failure to report four instances of forcible sex offenses occurring between 2001 and 2002.

With more than 3,000 students, Connecticut’s Wesleyan University is not your typical liberal arts college. Its larger size allows for research institution-level courses, where students work directly with high profile scholars, while the intimacy of a liberal arts college is preserved. But, as President Michael Roth says, there was still a desire to “expand the university without creating brick-and-mortar campuses.” Online education seemed to be the answer, but how to do it remained the question.

Today’s enrollment challenges have impacted all sectors and strata of colleges and universities. Campus leaders are questioning whether their organizational models, as well as the roles and responsibilities of key enrollment players, are aligned for optimal enrollment success.

Tom Keppple

If a college freshman stepped onto a campus where it was obvious that the administration had spent months eviscerating each other over petty slights instead of balancing the budget—or refusing to name a dean because a faction of the faculty resent his work on committees—the student would undoubtedly run screaming into the night looking for the fastest way out of there.

An effective chief information officer can be a bit like a superhero, but without the visible cape. Protecting information and ensuring the population can go about its day-to-day are all in a day’s work for these administrators. This spring, we talked with five campus CIOs to hear what is keeping them up at night and getting them revved to go in the morning. While we heard bandwidth is an ever-growing need (it’s like a teenager on a growth spurt), we also heard good news about the ability to use technology to inform the culture and learning of an institution.

We are running out of time. While our public policy makers equivocate and avoid the topic of climate change, the window of opportunity for salvaging a livable planet for our children and grandchildren is rapidly closing. The way forward is clear, yet for many confrontation-averse academics, the path seems impassable. It requires action that’s unnatural to the scientifically initiated: fight to regain territory occupied by climate change deniers.

"On the heels of numerous recent scandals, the higher education world is finally (again) examining the role of athletics in academia. And every time a new scandal erupts, we are shocked—shocked—that such things go on within the halls of academia. Ah, but there’s the rub: In many schools, and especially those with a proclivity to horrific headlines, the athletic department is acting as an autonomous fiefdom."

With international attention focused on Rome, the election of a new Pope rang out a welcoming chime that now resonates deep within the Catholic higher learning community. As the Cardinals were deciding who would be the new pope, Twitter accounts flickered with photos of the “Sistine Seagull” perched on the chimney waiting for white smoke to rise.

Michael T. Benson
  • Michael T. Benson will put his knack for leadership and raising funds to use as president of Eastern Kentucky University, beginning August 1. Currently leading Southern Utah University, he is working to raise $30 million for the Southern Utah Center for the Arts, $28 million of which has been raised so far. He directed and developed SUU’s $100 million The Future is Rising comprehensive campaign, of which $85 million had been raised as of early April.

Frederik Logevall, the John S. Knight Professor of International Studies and director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University, has been appointed the university’s vice provost for international relations, to begin July 1. He will succeed Alice Pell, who has served as vice provost since 2008. A history professor with expertise in U.S. foreign relations, Logevall will remain director of the Einaudi Center and will assist the office of the vice provost for undergraduate education in the oversight of the Cornell Abroad program.

University Business readers know Jim Samels and Jim Martin as the coauthors of the long running “Future Shock” column in each issue and online. The column covers a broad range of topics from higher education management and leadership issues to community relations and sustainable thinking.

In June, the pair will be featured speakers at the UBTech conference in Orlando, presenting “Myths and Realities of Campus Sustainability: 10 Questions to Ask Before You Pledge Financial Allegiance to Green Energy and Technology Solutions.”