Positioning Colleges and Universities for Future Success
Edited by Madeleine B. d’ Ambrosio and Ronald G. Ehrenberg
Chapter 2: Strengthening the Academic Presidency: Recommendations for Presidents and Governing Boards
Robert M. O’Neil Shortly before the TIAA-CREF Institute convened the conference, Transformational Change in Higher Education, the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) released the report of its Task Force on the State of the Presidency in American Higher Education. The title of the report, The Leadership Imperative, clearly signaled its central theme. At the outset, the Task Force ‘contends that a new style of collaborative but decisive leadership – integral leadership – is the key to addressing [the most daunting issues facing contemporary higher education]’. Integral leadership, continued the executive summary, ‘succeeds in fulﬁlling the multiple, disparate strands of presidential responsibility, and conceives of these responsibilities as parts of a coherent whole’. Such leadership, in essence, links the major academic constituencies ‘in a well-functioning partnership purposefully devoted to a welldeﬁned, broadly aﬃrmed institutional vision’. Some 43 speciﬁc recommendations spelled out the import of such bold declarations – desirable actions addressed respectively to governing boards, to presidents, to state policymakers, and to AGB itself. The attention of university boards was speciﬁcally drawn to the most pertinent and sensitive areas of trustee responsibility – supporting presidential leadership, conducting a presidential search, presidential evaluation and compensation, board accountability, and presidential renewal and succession. Had there been any uncertainty about the timeliness of the Task Force’s mission when the group convened in the fall of 2005, not the slightest doubt remained when the time came for issuance of the report a year later. Indeed, the intervening 12 months may well have 30...
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