Add to GoodReads

College Presidents Reflect

Life in and out of the Ivory Tower

Stephen J. Nelson

College presidents lead taxing and complex, though enormously fulfilling and rewarding, lives. The story that unfolds in College Presidents Reflect: Life in and out of the Ivory Tower is fashioned from the perspectives of over two-dozen retired former college presidents. The over-their-shoulders view we get from these men and women who have sat on the presidential perch provides an unprecedented view of the office, of the pathways to presidencies, and of the ways in which tenures conclude when presidents decide, at times pushed, to exit.

Does anything after leaving office compare with the status and regard regularly accorded presidents? How do their bully pulpits change from the power of the presidency to life? What are the high successes and unforeseen regrets born out of time in the office? From their journeys we learn lessons about leadership. We hear about how one gets into the presidency, planned or not. There is only one true source of insight and reflection about these issues and that is those who have been there, these former college presidents.
« less more »
R&L Education
Pages: 148Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4758-0761-5 • Hardback • December 2013 • $76.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-4758-0762-2 • eBook • December 2013 • $72.00 • (£47.95)
Subjects: Education / Higher
Stephen J. Nelson is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Bridgewater State University and a Senior Scholar in the Leadership Alliance at Brown University. He holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School, a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from the Hartford Seminary, and an A.B. in history from Gettysburg College. He is the author of four previous books about the college presidency, the most recent Decades of Chaos and Revolution: Showdowns for College Presidents in 2012.

Chapter 1Introduction: A Retrospective, Decades of Challenge and Change in the College
Chapter 2The Sweet Sorrow: Exodus from the “Oval Office” and Bully Pulpit of the
Chapter 3The Next Act: Is there Any Equal after a Presidency?
Chapter 4The Switch in Public Voice: Is Anyone Listening?
Chapter 5“Regrets, I have a few”: Memories of Highs and Lows
Chapter 6The Shape and Shaping of the Presidency: The Insights of Former Presidents and
the Intrigue of the Office

Appendix: Roster of Interviewed Presidents

Much recent writing about the college presidency is shaped by one political agenda or another and reveals little understanding of the actual work of academic leadership. Stephen Nelson's volume, by contrast, relies heavily on conversations with those who have served as presidents and have the opportunity now to look back on the rewards and challenges of the position. It is important reading for anyone who genuinely wants to learn about what it means to lead these complex organizations we call colleges and universities.
Brian Rosenberg, president, Macalester College

Being a college president is a tough but exhilarating job. As Steve Nelson explains, it is a job filled with a huge variety of expectations, and a lasting impact as well. His book shines a helpful light into an important but often misunderstood area of university work and will help all of us – incumbents, former presidents, and future presidents – to see the job in a wider perspective. In an age when universities continue to grow in stature and are now driving regional economies, it is all the more important that we understand the inner workings of the engine house. This book will contribute significantly.
Christina Paxson, president, Brown University

Life challenges every one of us, from time to time, to abandon worlds that have engaged us, mind, body, and heart. College and university presidents preside over coming-of-age rituals through which students and their families pass every year. This fascinating new study turns the tables to ask how these masters of transition manage their own. How can they, like the students they have nurtured, take their leave with the grace and curiosity that will open new doors? Their stories offer insights for us all.
Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita, Wellesley College, and chair, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Whether you call them academic leaders, public intellectuals, or “captains of erudition,” presidents are individuals. As Stephen J. Nelson shows in College Presidents Reflect, the common threads that run through their experiences – their philosophies, challenges, and achievements – are not simply institutional, but are deeply human. That is only fitting, as the work we presidents engage in, while it involves management, politics, and fundraising, is not of those things. College Presidents Reflect reminds us that leading a college or university is foremost about fostering a culture that values teaching, learning, and innovation – and that never stops questioning how we can be at our best as humans.
Freeman A. Hrabowsk III, president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County