Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Videoconference Examines Changing Role of Today's College President

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Videoconference Examines Changing Role of Today's College President

Article excerpt

American college and university presidents

have less time than ever for the traditional

rode of acting as the academic leader of their

institutions. Instead they are fundraising,

lobbying and acting as peacemaker among

their different constituencies, several

presidents and scholars told

a nationwide audience at a recent

Black Issues In Higher Education

videoconference.

University of Virginia

President Dr. John Casteen, III said

he spends three-quarters of his time

on fundraising, followed closely by

dealing with political issues.

Traditional college presidential

duties "come in last," he said.

"Shrinking budgets mean we

spend more time fundraising and

the dollars are more readily available

for institutions that already have an

established record of excellence," he said.

The videoconference, "Prosperity or

Turmoil: The Future of the American College

President," focused on some of the problems

faced by presidents as they deal with smaller

budgets, fractious faculty and

the tensions surrounding affirmative action

and diversity.

"When it comes to diversity and

tolerance, a president needs to understand

that it is his or her role (to act) as the

facilitator and tone setter," said Jonathan

Alger, from the associate council for the American

Association of University Professors.

Alger said sharing information and

receiving input from faculty is vita].

"Faculty are on the front line of

education and should be seen as a

resource ... If information is shared and

there is constructive dialogue, faculty

can come up with solutions a president

may not think of himself."

That issue was illustrated by the

presence of Bowie State University

President Dr. Nathaniel Pollard, who

recently received a vote of "no

confidence" from his faculty, despite

students who approved of the job he is

doing. He is the third president of

Bowie State to receive a vote of

no-confidence from the faculty.

Pollard said the university has

since accepted the recommendation of

a task force composed of business

leaders and educators that calls for "a more

inclusive government structure," with a

change in leadership style and better

communications.

"We are developing a governing structure

that is powerful and will dead Bowie State

into the twenty-first century," said Pollard.

Holly Madsen, staff liaison to the

Commission on the Academic Presidency for

the Association of Governing Boards, agreed

and added, "Colleges and universities are

looking for a president: who can deal with the

external constituencies as well -- the

government, the donors, the business

community. …

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