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On Being Presidential: A Guide for College and University Leaders

On Being President by Susan Resneck Pierce

By Susan Resneck Pierce, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, November 2011. ISBN 978-1-118-02776-9

Adequate training is hard to come by and applicable experience more and more rare. On Being Presidential provides presidents, senior administrators, faculty leaders, and trustees with a guide to fulfilling their responsibilities and recommendations to aspiring presidents about how they can best prepare for a successful presidency.

On campuses and among trustees there is often a lack of understanding of what the president does (and should do), the larger issues facing the institution, and issues that the president grapples with on a daily basis. This lack of understanding too tends to be accompanied by confusion about the appropriate role and responsibilities not only of the faculty but also of the president and the trustees. As a result, the faculty, administration, and the board can find themselves at odds over governance, which can paralyze institutions and lead to failed presidencies. This book offers solutions to the problems facing senior administrators.

“This is the best book I’ve ever read on being a college president.” — Arthur Levine, president, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and president emeritus, Teachers College, Columbia University.

“A must-read for anyone involved in higher education. Susan Resneck Pierce’s cautionary tales and commonsense approach to college management present, in a very entertaining way, the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of effective post-secondary academic leadership. Highly recommended… I am so enthusiastic that I plan to share On Being Presidential with two new university presidents!” — Barbara Young, vice-chair, Sweet Briar College Board of Directors, and two-time appointee to the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees.

“Nearly every page contains pearls of wisdom both for college and university presidents and for those who aspire to lead campuses.” — Constantine W. Curris, former president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Murray State, Northern Iowa and Clemson.

Susan Resneck Pierce is president emerita of the University of Puget Sound and of counsel to AGB Search. As president of SRP Consulting, she advises colleges and universities on planning, effective board and presidential performance, board development, governance and fundraising. She has served as Academic VP at Lewis & Clark College, arts and sciences dean at Tulsa, assistant director of education programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities, visiting professor at Princeton and English department chair at Ithaca College.

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