Presidential turnover rising amid heightening financial, political pressures
- A number of hasty departures by college presidents in recent weeks, some fairly early into their tenures, marks a continuing trend of sudden departures and increased turnover among those taking on the role, according to Inside Higher Ed.
- Experts and faculty note that there are many different reasons why presidential turnover has increased, including the increased financial and political pressure on colleges, as well as boards of trustees that are more willing to cut ties with a disappointing president.
- Turnover among college presidents is considered to be up, with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities stating that about one in four of its campuses had seen leadership changes in the past few years.
The increasing rate of turnover among college presidents illustrates the need for more robust professional development programs for those looking to move into the role, a need that was highlighted in the results of a recent task force of college presidents. The task force suggested that presidents select individuals from within the college’s faculty and staff to place on a leadership development track, particularly focusing on female and minority candidates, as they are typically underrepresented among college leadership. If boards of trustees are quicker to revoke their support for presidents, it may be wise to make such leadership development programs a mandatory part of college administration, as opposed to relying on a single president to carry out the process.
Presidents also reported that they felt pressure to deliver quickly on promises and results, due in part to the rapid pace of college life, as well as the increased financial pressure colleges and universities are under. College presidents should work to ensure they have good relationships with the student body. As students become increasingly willing to put pressure on and engage with college administration, an equal willingness to listen to their concerns and those of other key stakeholders could help impede their removal.
- Inside Higher Ed Swift and Silent Exits