CIC Program Prepares New Presidents to Succeed

Students and faculty members returning to campus, regular class schedules starting, athletic teams and theatre troupes resuming practice, student newspapers publishing again…78 CIC Institutional Member presidents experienced these classic campus rites of fall semester for the first time from new positions at the helm of a college or university. Thomas L. Hellie, highly experienced president of Linfield College (OR) and chair of the CIC Board of Directors, recently observed, “Our profession is noble and unique. As one of my presidential mentors told me when I was appointed, ‘It’s going to be the best job you’ve ever had. It’s also going to be the hardest.’”

To assure a strong start, CIC will again offer the highly participatory New Presidents Program for campus leaders in their first or second year and their spouses or partners. The 2018 program will take place January 3–4, in Hollywood, Florida, immediately preceding the CIC Presidents Institute.

Experienced presidents will lead the sessions, which will focus on the immediate informational needs and strategic questions that new presidents have. Program director Mary Pat Seurkamp, president emerita of Notre Dame of Maryland University, 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.”

The workshop will include sessions on financial fundamentals and strategies, enrollment and marketing to 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 a forum for frank conversation about the joys and challenges of the presidency. The facilitators, many of whom are alumni of the program, will guide small group discussions and serve as informal advisors during the workshop and beyond.

Reflecting on his participation in January 2017, David Finegold, who became president of Chatham University (PA) in July 2016, highly recommended CIC’s New Presidents Program: “It offers a great opportunity to address and discuss pressing challenges facing leaders of private colleges today with a group of peers. I found the one-on-one consulting sessions with an assigned mentor particularly valuable and have continued to stay in touch with the network of colleagues I met there.” And Logan C. Hampton, who has led Lane College (TN) since January 2015 and currently serves on the New Presidents Program advisory committee, remarked, “The program prepared me to serve my campus and community more confidently. I learned strategies to manage my institution, established relationships and partnerships, discovered resources to shore up my deficiencies, and was reminded of my existing strengths on which to build.”

two photos of new presidents seated at roundtables discussing topics
In a 2017 New Presidents Program session on enrollment and marketing, participants discussed strategies to attract and retain students.

CIC’s New Presidents Program is the longest running program that serves new chief executives. Since 1989, more than 950 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. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, who has led Bennett College (NC) as interim president since August 2016, reflected: “The New Presidents Program and Presidents Institute provided a tool kit of information, resources, and consultant services that I was able to use right away to address some of the daily operations and challenges that I faced. Today, I still pull from the recommendations, suggestions, and ideas gathered from the sessions.”

The concurrent and, at times, integrated program for spouses and partners of recently appointed college presidents will be led by experienced presidential spouses Lynne C. Joyce of Brevard College (NC) and J. Lawrence Smith of York College of Pennsylvania. Mirroring the presidents’ program approach, 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 transitioning into the role, getting off to a great start, making connections and building trust, and dealing with change.

“The program for spouses and partners,” said Cayce McCormick who serves Schreiner University (TX), “conveyed useful information from experienced perspectives. The discussions were candid, and the facilitators shared their vast knowledge with humor and a contagious optimism. I am thankful to CIC for equipping me for the challenges of my new role and for introducing me to peers who became friends.” Her spouse and partner, Schreiner president Charlie McCormick, summed up his experience in 2017: “It is a rare and wonderful opportunity—as a new president and presidential spouse—to walk alongside others who are in the same situation as you are and to be guided by seasoned experts who understand the way. Cayce and I left the program with new friends, new ideas, and renewed hope for ourselves and our university.”

To register for the New Presidents Program, contact Sherita Ashmon, CIC conference manager, at (202) 466-7230 or by December 1, 2017. Learn more about the program.