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ACE Publication Explores Dynamics Between Presidents and Their Boards

November 19, 2013



​Presidents and chancellors of higher education institutions nationwide must contend with buffeting governance forces that didn't exist a generation ago, according to a new publication released by ACE.

Presidents: Caught in the Middle documents an ACE Presidential Roundtable convened in May where a dozen presidents, along with other higher education experts, discussed governance issues from the presidential perspective. It can be purchased here.

ACE Presidential Roundtables are daylong conversations among higher education leaders and experts that examine the role of higher education leaders in addressing urgent matters on campus.

The job of presidents increasingly is being molded by external events and attacked from different directions, notes Presidents: Caught in the Middle.

"Effective governance ensures that colleges and universities run more smoothly and spend less money on unnecessary squabbles," the publication states. "When administrators, the governing board, and internal constituents such as faculty, staff, and students all agree to the same vision and goals for the institution, campuses thrive. But what happens when there is disagreement and dissension? And what does it matter?"

Presidential Roundtable participants agreed that with major decisions having to be made more and more quickly, the status quo is no longer feasible. They also acknowledged that presidents do not lead alone and must often negotiate between the campus constituencies and the board.

The essay was written by Gretchen M. Bataille, who at the time was ACE senior vice president for Leadership and Lifelong Learning; Alegneta Asfaw, a graduate student at Georgetown University (DC); and Brandon A. Jackson, at the time a graduate student at Florida State University and now a faculty member at the University of Arkansas.

The ACE Presidential Roundtable and resulting publication were generously supported by the TIAA-CREF Institute.

"The ACE Presidential Roundtables allow presidents and other senior leaders to explore some of the most pressing issues facing American higher education," said Joan Wodiska, ACE vice president and chief leadership officer. "More importantly, the roundtables provide a constructive venue to share strategies, identify best practices, and seek a common understanding on the path forward to succeed. We very much appreciate the TIAA-CREF Institute's commitment to support this important work."

"The ACE Presidential Roundtable series provides a unique look at key factors that impact the strategic decisions of college and university presidents," said Stephanie Bell-Rose, TIAA-CREF senior managing director and head of the TIAA-CREF Institute. "The importance of effective and comprehensive higher education governance models is clear, and this report provides critical insights into how industry leaders can enact improvements."

Media Contact: Jon Riskind ▪ 202-939-9453 ▪

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