Correction: A previous version of this brief incorrectly identified Lou Anna Simon as the President of the University of Michigan. The article has been corrected to show she is the President of Michigan State University.
- News of Ithaca College President Shirley Collado's plea of no contest to charges of misdemeanor sexual abuse while working in a psychiatric hospital have resurfaced 16 years after she appeared before a D.C. superior court, reports Inside Higher Ed. Though Collado said she accepted the charges on the basis of legal advice and didn't actually commit the act, the court case and allegations have come under scrutiny again this week when the institution's student newspaper, The Ithican, published a story about them.
- Collado told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Ithaca's Board of Trustees had been aware of her past during the presidential-search process, and she was chosen because of her diverse background and upbringing as the daughter of Dominican Republic immigrants. Collado said that unlike most college presidents, she has always willingly and openly "shared things that I think most presidents don't get up and share about who they are."
- News of the controversy comes at the same time University of Rochester President Joel Seligman announced his resignation just before reports of sexual misconduct claims against a university professor publicly surfaced, and while Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon is being asked to resign, according to The Chronicle, over her handling of sexual misconduct claims against associate medical professor Larry Nassar, who was arrested in 2016. Nassar is the former team physician for USA Gymnastics who is alleged to have sexually abused dozens of girls and young women.
When it comes to a complicated past or poor decision-making in time of crisis or emergencies, it is becoming increasingly clear that college and university presidents can no longer sweep issues under the rug — as evidenced by the number of leaders who have resigned or who were publicly scrutinized over the last few years. In addition to institution leaders facing pressure for sexual harassment claims on campus, others — like former University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe and University of South Florida regional chancellor Sophia Wisniewska — have also been ousted due to their handling of campus unrest or personal issues.
A pattern of scrutiny shows presidents and other administrators not only ought to conduct themselves differently in the academy versus in public, but should also prepare to handle these crisis and others in a way that saves face and also considers the concerns of campus community members. When it comes to dealing with emergencies broadly, researchers from the University at Albany suggest six strategies leaders can follow. These include:
+ Creating pre-conditions that facilitate collaboration during an incident.
+ Effectively interpreting the complex context of the unrest.
+ Fast response and targeted decision making.
+ Extending information to stakeholders and constituents on decisions carried out.
+ Figuring out the right moment to shut-down the crisis and learning from it.
+ Documenting the event to enhance safety and performance.