Maiden voyages: First-time presidents navigate the board relationship
At the start of a college or university presidency, intentional strategies can engage the governing board and improve the success and well being of the institution. A highly engaged president and board, appropriately focused on strategic issues, form an integral component to healthy higher education governance. While presidents may be aware of best practices for board engagement, a new president who arrives at an institution and finds a disengaged or low-performing board lacks a handbook on how to implement these strategies successfully. Yet, some new presidents arrive with an ability to navigate the rough waters and improve their board governance. ^ A case study of institutions where first-time presidents arrived with intentional strategies and succeeded in improving board engagement elicited a framework to describe similar successful steps to improve their boards. Extensive interviews conducted at five independent, non-profit colleges, in concert with literature on presidential and board engagement, provided a lens through which to examine new college presidents' work with trustee boards, with an end goal to improve their institutions. ^ At the time of the research study, the five individuals starting their presidencies were at different points in their journey down the same collective path. Each of these first-time presidents found a mess of differing degrees left by their predecessors, and immediately took similar intentional steps to engage their boards successfully. ^ The case studies provide a slice of the experience of first-time presidents taking over troubled or somnolent institutions with dysfunctional governance and forming functional partnerships with their boards. The intentionality of these new presidents demonstrated a similar progression for all five, finding their way in a new role, and with a new kind of reporting relationship. Specific intentional action steps emerged from the research and may bear relevance for other higher education researchers and practitioners. The case studies illustrated the importance of presidential candidate preparation for the interview process, the changing nature of the relationship between president and chair, the move toward broader constituencies of engaged trustees, and the importance of education and assessment for successful institutional governance. ^
Education, Higher Education Administration|Education, Higher
Robert James Alexander,
"Maiden voyages: First-time presidents navigate the board relationship"
(January 1, 2012).
Dissertations available from ProQuest.