Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

LAST WORD: Becoming Presidential Timber Is No Small Order

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

LAST WORD: Becoming Presidential Timber Is No Small Order

Article excerpt

LAST WORD: Becoming Presidential Timber Is No Small Order

Over 13 years ago, I was a member of the search committee to find a president for my institution. More than 100 candidates vied to become the anointed one. The pool of candidates was first reduced to 20, then to six for interview purposes. A comment that was made by a member of the governing board, who was also a member of the search committee, still rings in my ears. As we were making our first reduction of the pool, the board member stated, rather emphatically, regarding one of the résumés, "This person is not presidential timber." The candidate being referenced had one of the most impressive résumés in the pool. Yet, according to the board member, this candidate was "not presidential timber."

Over the years, I have reached the conclusion that the board member had indeed made a very powerful point. He just might have been the most insightful member of the committee. Since that tune, I have spent many hours trying to figure out exactly what the board member meant. What had he seen that we hadn't? What is the real meaning of presidential timber? I now believe that certain characteristics can identify whether one has what it takes to be an effective college president.

- Integrity. For the aspiring president, demonstrating impeccable integrity throughout one's career is a must. Administrators may be able to overcome many bad decisions but never dishonesty, cheating or lying.

- Temperament. An even temper is virtuous. When the temperament of others is pushed to the limit, it is the calm and collected that usually are victorious in the long run.

- Relationships. Relationships are at the heart of presidential responsibilities and image building. Those who are able to establish and maintain effective relationships on and off campus will win many supporters. …

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