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Academic Leadership

Left in the wake of Jerry Sandusky’s alleged crimes at Penn State University are a highly regarded university president, a legendary football coach, and two high-level administrators charged with perjury for lying to the grand jury. The only person left standing is former Penn State Wide Receivers Coach Mike McQueary. McQueary testified before the grand jury that he personally witnessed Sandusky in the shower with a young boy, engaging in acts so distasteful that they need not be recounted here.


The 20-year-old “bubble era” of rapid expansion and leveraged prosperity in American colleges may have been a novelty; it did not, however, fund or build much that now seems original. Too bad, because there is a difference between movements or institutions (as there is for poets and scientists) that are original, truly springing from fresh inspiration, and those that are merely novel, highly derived forms growing from already familiar soils. The Great Recession continues a residual perplexity like a weather front hovering upon the shoreline.

Here we are at a coffee shop in South Boston, commiserating over the latest higher education buzz. Boston, a place that hosts 50 colleges and universities, is the kind of college town that often drives national higher learning megatrends. The talk here is about President Obama taking aim at at student debt load, gainful employment, and health care.  For Obama, “The question isn’t how we can afford to focus on healthcare. The question is how we can afford not to…because in order to fix our economic crisis and rebuild our middle class, we need to fix our healthcare system, too.”

John deSteiguer

During his nine-year tenure as senior vice president for advancement at Oklahoma Christian University, John deSteiguer contributed to reaching a record $110 million in donor giving. He’ll put this experience, and his previous experience at Northeastern State University (Okla.), to use as OC’s new president, effective in June. He succeeds Mike O’Neal, president since 2002.

An unprecedented and powerful confluence of forces—political, economic, public policy, regulatory, technological, and consumer choice—will drastically reshape the landscape of higher education governance in coming years. These forces will cause a seismic shift in governance and accountability for American colleges and universities. Board members will need additional skills and competencies for leading their institutions through the more treacherous terrain of a new governance world.

Alexander E. “Sandy” Bracken has been appointed the Quigg and Virginia S. Newton Endowed Chair in Leadership at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Former University of Colorado system President Alexander E. “Sandy” Bracken has been appointed the Quigg and Virginia S. Newton Endowed Chair in Leadership at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He succeeds former CU President Hank Brown, who held the chair from 2008 to 2010. Bracken served as the 19th president of the University of Colorado in 2000 and most recently served as executive director of the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado- Denver’s School of business from 2001 to 2007.

Student retention is a big problem that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. About one-third of college students fail to obtain a degree six years after taking their first college course, and the United States is no longer in the top 10 list of countries with the highest graduation rates, according to the College Board. The drop-out rate affects long-term economic prosperity nationwide. This is particularly true in an age where knowledge, creativity, and innovation are key drivers in a globalized economy.

Soumitra Dutta

Soumitra Dutta will be the first dean of a major U.S. business school hired from a b-school outside the country when he starts his position as 11th dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University on July 1. He is a professor of business and technology and founder and faculty director of a new media and technology innovation lab at INSEAD, one of the top-ranked business schools worldwide, with campuses in Fontainebleau, France; Singapore; and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Joseph Thomas is stepping down from the post after a five-year term.

Jordan Zimmerman

Once a school like Penn State or Syracuse has gone through the ethical and public relations disaster of a child sexual abuse scandal ... what comes next? How do you fix what’s broken? Can you even think about rebuilding the brand?

Yes ... but it’s tough. It takes character, both for the organization and on a personal level.

Emerging from this kind of crisis means going through three different stages: denial, damage control, and decision. Lots of people, and lots of institutions, never make it through to that third stage.

A senior administrator briefed a staff meeting to prepare for the coming academic year, referencing tight budgets, admissions trends, and the president’s priorities. The presentation proved engaging and stimulating, yet the moment felt strangely incomplete, an opportunity unfulfilled.