Leadership is one of those qualities that is both obvious and elusive. We certainly know it when we see it, both in institutions and in the people who lead them. But it is not so easy, for example, to gauge a new president’s potential for leadership success on a particular campus, or to map out an effective distribution of responsibilities between a president and a board.
With so much depending on higher education leadership, we have devoted this issue of The Presidency to helping postsecondary leaders learn from each other through a thematically linked set of features, best practices, and practical resources:
In addition to the strong working relationships that presidents and boards have built up across the institutional spectrum and across the country, colleges and universities are also using mechanisms to help clarify leadership responsibilities. Among the tools linked to our feature package is a well-defined decision matrix that Washington & Jefferson College (PA) uses to delineate the roles of the president, board, faculty, and others for decisions in key areas.
As aptly demonstrated by Brookhaven College (TX), Grinnell College (IA), and the University of West Georgia in another feature story, institutional leadership need not (and often should not) be confined to a campus’s perimeter. Presidents at each of these institutions have strengthened their college or university by working beyond its boundaries.
As the largest convener of the higher education community, the American Council on Education (ACE) itself has always played its own distinct role in advancing state-of the-art leadership. As ACE Vice President, and Chief Leadership Officer, Leadership Programs Joan Wodiska points out in her feature, the Council continues to strengthen colleges and universities through its growing suite of leadership programs.
On that same note, we are planning an outstanding lineup of new perspectives and smart strategies for all who can join us at ACE’s 96th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 8–11. With the rapid pace of change within higher education, this year’s theme, “Seizing Opportunity,” is very apropos: As reflected in this issue and all around us, it is clear that effective postsecondary leadership can both create and utilize opportunities to advance knowledge and better serve students.
I look forward to seeing you in San Diego.
Molly Corbett Broad
American Council on Education