- Effective outreach to student and staff communities is vital when considering changes to campus policies and processes, several college presidents stressed during interviews with the Chronicle of Higher Education. Numerous presidents said faculty buy-in at the onset of a proposal will make its implementation far easier.
- Christopher Howard, the president of Robert Morris University, noted it is impossible to achieve consent on all proposals for change from all parties, saying trying could stymie quick progress. However, he said it is important to remember that ideas for change do not always emanate from presidents.
- Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe described a multi-year strategic-planning process involving students and faculty. Steering committees were developed based on chief concerns signified in the results of campus-wide surveys. The process achieved tangible results, particularly around boost diversity.
A lack of faculty support can mean doomsday for administrators. Votes of no-confidence by faculty senates are not only possible triggers for negative PR on campus, but could also spark inquiry from accreditors and other governing bodies. As college presidents’ tenures face challenges from Board of Trustees who are less willing to offer unconditional support, to controversies that bring students to be critical of administrators, it is more important than ever for presidents to work on maintaining strong relationships and visibility with students and faculty. The need for consistent communication is vital to continue even as more presidents report that more of the expected roles of a president take them away from campus life.
And with the erosion of public funding and faculty salaries which are often significantly lower than what professors could make in the private sector, it is often the notion of shared governance which helps balance out low pay and long hours and makes the job worthwhile for faculty. Attacks on tenure have dominated discussions in Wisconsin recently, but the decline in shared governance has been an even bigger concern for some professors there.
Autumn A. Arnett contributed to this piece.