In 2017, in partnership with the TIAA Institute, the Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS) of the American College on Education (ACE) released the eighth edition of the most comprehensive survey on the college presidency, the American College President Study (ACPS). The survey and its findings have provided a comprehensive view of the college presidency. ACPS helps ACE, and all stakeholders in higher education, better reflect on ways to diversify the presidency.
Findings from the ACPS show that the representation of women in the presidency has nearly tripled since 1986, although women remained underrepresented in 2016. About one-third of college and university presidents in 2016 were women, and only five percent of all presidents were women of color. In order to better understand some of the reasons for the slow growth in the number of women of color in the presidency, ACE conducted four semi-structured interviews with women of color who are serving as presidents or chancellors of colleges and universities. These conversations focused on how race and gender affected their pathway to the presidency, how they measure success, and their hopes for the future of higher education leadership. Interviews were edited for clarity and collected in Voices from the Field: Women of Color Presidents in Higher Education to share insights from the field of higher education leadership.