2017 New Presidents Program Will Help Negotiate Perils and Pitfalls

“As is often said, there is no substitute for experience,” Brian C. Ralph, who became president of William Peace University (NC) in July 2015, recently remarked. But after reflecting on his participation in CIC’s 2016 New Presidents Program (NPP), he noted: “The opportunity for my wife, Kristen, and me to dive into CIC’s program was the exact experience we needed in our first year. We had just enough under our belts to know what we needed to learn (in the short term).” CIC will again offer its long-standing leadership development opportunity for college presidents and their spouses or partners in their first or second year preceding the Presidents Institute (January 4–7); the upcoming NPP will take place January 3–4, 2017, at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

Jennifer L. Braaten addresses participants from a podium
Jennifer L. Braaten, then president of Ferrum College (VA) and past chair of the CIC New Presidents Program Advisory Committee, offered welcoming remarks at the 2016 Luncheon for New Presidents and Spouses and Partners.

Mary Pat Seurkamp, CIC senior advisor, NPP director, and president emerita of Notre Dame of Maryland University, designs the program in close cooperation with a group of dedicated and experienced CIC presidents as facilitators to focus on the practical needs and strategic questions for success in leading independent colleges and universities. Seurkamp explained, “Our main objective is to help new presidents negotiate perils and pitfalls while making the most of opportunities in their first year. The program is about providing the ‘need to know’ tools and the counsel that will keep a young presidency on a smooth course.”
To 2016 NPP participant Andrea E. Chapdelaine, president of Hood College (MD) since July 2015, “The substantive information presented focused on the immediate and primary challenges facing new presidents. It also provided ample opportunity to meet other new presidents as well as to gain invaluable advice from our more ‘seasoned’ colleagues.”
The agenda for the intensive workshop will include sessions on financial fundamentals and strategies, enrollment and marketing to today’s students, board relations, and institutional advancement. It also will address strategies for leading the senior team, consideration of the changed environment for presidential strategic and entrepreneurial leadership, and include—as past participant Marjorie Hass, president of Austin College (TX), commented—“a forum for frank conversation about the joys and challenges of the presidency.” The facilitators, many of whom are alumni of the program, will offer advice from the perspective of “I wish I had known then what I know now!” They also will guide small-group discussions and serve as informal advisors during the workshop, during the Presidents Institute, and in some cases long after.

Five participants share ideas at a roundtable discussion
Participants in the program for spouses and partners of new presidents engaged in small group discussions.

CIC’s New Presidents Program is the longest running of the programs serving new chief executives. Since 1989, more than 900 new college and university presidents have benefited, and many have remarked that the program provides an exceptionally productive use of a new president’s time and complements other programs for new campus CEOs.
Kevin F.F. Quigley, president of Marlboro College(VT) since July 2015, observed in retrospect, “The New Presidents Program provides an ideal venue at an opportune time to gather with seasoned and new presidents to compare notes and share stories of triumphs and tribulations while developing an invaluable network for obtaining guidance on the challenges and opportunities of any presidency.” And Ronald L. Carter, president of Johnson C. Smith University (NC), remarked, “The New Presidents Program—like the Presidents Institute—has an open, problem-solving atmosphere in which presidents freely exchange ideas with each other and with seasoned leaders in independent higher education.”
The concurrent and at times integrated program for spouses and partners of recently appointed college presidents will be led by experienced presidential spouses Robert Haring-Smith of Washington & Jefferson College (PA) and Lynne C. Joyce of Brevard College (NC). It will provide opportunities to form a network among others who are new to the role of presidential spouse or partner and to share early experiences. The agenda includes sessions on the varied roles of the presidential spouse or partner, dealing with change, finding one’s niche on campus and in the community, building trust, fundraising, and other topics. “The program for spouses and partners of new presidents definitely was time well spent,” said past participant Kelly T. Knapp, presidential spouse at Hope College (MI). “It was so encouraging to hear how other spouses are handling challenging situations. And the experienced facilitators knew exactly what we needed to consider and discuss.”
Learn more about the New Presidents Program. Register as part of the Presidents Institute; or, if already registered for the Presidents Institute, contact Sherita Ashmon, CIC conference manager, at (202) 466-7230 or sashmon@cic.nche.edu to add the program to the itinerary. The registration deadline is December 5, 2016.