Why college presidents are serving much shorter terms
- Public colleges in Mississippi are an example of the increasing turnover among presidents at institutions nationwide, with board influence and legislative interference as core tenets of the transitions.
- Columnist Bill Crawford describes the recent resignation of Jackson State University President Carolyn Meyers, who is the latest in a growing line of presidents in the state to serve fewer than 10 years, where tenures were once in excess of 20 years for one leader.
- The difficulty in legislative lobbying, interface with a variety of stakeholders and fundraising, Crawford says, are key elements to why presidents do not seem to last long in office.
Most experts say presidents have to be flexible and transformational leaders, but the difficulty in this charge is that the definition of transformational can change from year to year, or even semester to semester. To have presidents who are good at fundraising is always a good idea, but what about when student engagement becomes a priority, or legislative relationship building?
A president that is good today may be an awful fit tomorrow, simply because a political party has changed in state legislature, a new industry leaves or comes to the region, or because racial demographics are changing in the region. Having a cabinet of qualified, innovative and transformational leaders will help presidents prepare for sudden shifts in institutional priority.
- Mississippi Business Journal University president terms getting shorter