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By the Numbers: As Presidential Diversity Stalls, Looking Into the Future of Leadership



The path to diversity in the postsecondary presidency just got longer, according to a new report from the American Council on Education, On the Pathway to the Presidency 2013: Characteristics of Higher Education’s Senior Leadership.

A selection of 149 four-year higher education institutions tracked between 2008 and 2013 showed slight increases in the age and gender diversity of senior administrators holding positions that often lead to the presidency, but no change in the share of racial and ethnic minorities in these roles.

Among the findings:

  • The percentage of women in senior administrative leadership positions increased from 40 to 43 percent overall. Today, women make up 41 percent of chief academic officers (CAOs), 72 percent of chiefs of staff, 28 percent of deans of academic colleges, and 36 percent of executive vice presidents.
  • While racial/ethnic characteristics of senior leaders remained the same overall, the share of African Americans in the CAO position declined from 3.7 percent to 2.3 percent, while Asian- American CAOs declined from 3.7 percent to 2.4 percent and Hispanic CAOs declined from 1.5 percent to 0.8 percent.
  • The share of senior leaders 61 or older increased from 21 percent to 26 percent between 2008 and 2013. The average age of administrators at these institutions is 55 and ranges from 52 for chief student affairs officers to 57 for deans and CAOs. Nearly a third of CAOs are 61 or older, and the share of senior academic affairs officers in that age group increased by 11 percentage points to 34 percent.
  • Among all senior administrative positions, colleges and universities in this sample were just as likely to hire senior leaders from within the institution as they were in 2008, although the share of CAO hires from within declined from 43 percent to 41 percent, and the share of senior academic affairs officers increased from 67 percent to 69 percent.

The full report is available for member-discount purchase on ACE’s website.


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