Developing Presidents in Public Higher Education: Perspectives from Past Presidents of Public, Doctorate-Granting Research Institutions

Turner, Edgar, Higher Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Breneman, David, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Pusser, Brian, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The stability of higher education institutions is largely dependent upon the quality of leadership in the president’s office. Previous studies on the responsibilities and time commitments of university presidents suggest a heightened focus towards external responsibilities (i.e., fundraising, budgeting) in recent history due to decreasing state support, heightened performance expectations, and the growing complexity of higher education institutions. The hypothesis of this study is as follows: The amount of time required by presidents to address external university affairs has superseded traditional academic responsibilities to an extent where previous traditional career paths are no longer adequate in preparing presidential hopefuls for the position of chief executive officer. Using theories of human capital, cultural capital, and transformational leadership as a framework, this study examines presidential career paths and presidential duties through the perspective of 12 past presidents of public, doctorate-granting research institutions. Past presidents expressed the highest levels of agreement with statements about the strong preparation that serving as an academic dean provided in preparing for the demands of the presidency and the need for dedication to external responsibilities such as fundraising and budgeting.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
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