- A recent survey of college presidents found many are "tone-deaf" to the needs of students, and often rank student life/experience near the bottom of their list of job priorities.
- An investigation by Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities and Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence found newer presidents rank their job functions as more financial and operational, while seasoned presidents focus most on academics.
- With some presidents reportedly preferring to rely on their senior teams to tell them what's going on with students on campus rather than interacting with the students themselves, and Jeff Selingo pontificates for the Washington Post that this preference is evident in the high number of recent presidential departures over student issues.
College presidents are increasingly under pressure to do more on campus, with fundraising and lobbying perhaps topping academics. There is a whispered belief that if a president isn't an academician, hiring a good provost will cover that base, as long as the president is charismatic and leveraging connections in business and government.
But the importance of student experience cannot be overlooked, and it is not sufficient to leave this up to the office of student life. Students are the consumers whose tuition dollars are relied upon to keep the institution afloat, and an investment in and commitment to student learning and student experience must come from the top. Campus presidents are responsible for setting the tone of high academic expectations and a culture of not just tolerance, but inclusion for all students. Without a top-down emphasis on student experience, the university will be at risk of bad press and attrition — both of which can affect fundraising and lobbying efforts.