2015–2016 Executive Leadership Academy Closes with Stimulating Seminar

The 2015–2016 Executive Leadership Academy (ELA)—a one-year leadership development program designed to prepare cabinet officers to become presidents of independent and public colleges and universities—concluded with a seminar in Washington, DC, June 20–22, 2016. Nearly 40 provosts and vice presidents of member institutions of CIC and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) participated in the program, which is cosponsored by CIC, the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), and AASCU.
Seasoned veterans delivered rich and challenging presentations during the seminar. Speakers covered various topics including how to: think and work institutionally, transition from cabinet officer to president, communicate during a crisis, manage reputation and identity, and manage human resources. MaryAnn Baenninger, president of Drew University (NJ), discussed “Strategic Planning,” and Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland College Park, explored “Presidential Leadership.” Dana Hoyt, president of Sam Houston State University and chair of the AALI board, detailed the “Top 10 Administrative Items for New Presidents” and later was joined by Richard Dorman, president of Westminster College (PA), for a discussion on “Life with Trustees.”

Learning to Think Institutionally

In a session on learning to think and work institutionally, Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College (GA), discussed how she transitioned from focusing on her work to focusing on institutional needs. She described her journey from faculty member—when she was fairly autonomous—through department chair—when she was responsible for more than her own work but still had a narrow perspective and served as an advocate for her department. Once Tatum was appointed dean, she found it easier to focus on maintaining her budget and protecting her turf than thinking administratively or institutionally. It wasn’t until she became acting president of Mount Holyoke College (MA) that she learned to think in terms of the well-being of the institution as a whole. Later, as president of Spelman College, she “learned to kill the me to feed the we.”
Throughout her presentation, Tatum emphasized the importance of building a strong leadership team that has a shared feeling of collective problem-solving, vision, and goals, a team that “could be left home alone” while she went out to raise funds. She spoke, too, about the value of addressing issues directly and early as a college leader.

The Future of Small Liberal Arts Colleges

Smaller groups of ELA participants gathered during the past year to discuss regional or topical issues and reported on their deliberations at the seminar. Members of the 2015–2016 cohort who are vice presidents at liberal arts colleges met together and communicated through phone conferences and email to study the current and likely future of smaller independent colleges. During the closing seminar’s group presentations, participants from Allegheny College (PA), Augustana College (IL), Biola University (CA), DePauw University (IN), Fisher College (MA), Loyola University Maryland, North Carolina Wesleyan College, Roanoke College (VA), Roger Williams University (RI), Rosemont College (PA), Union College (KY), and Sewanee: The University of the South (TN) reported on this exploration of new business models that might help sustain the smaller institutions that are based in the liberal arts.
The group studied issues ranging from online education (and the optimal relationship between online and traditional courses) to the likely effects of outsourcing administrative functions to effective partnerships with local businesses and the community. They compared such matters as services that their institutions provide for various student populations, the composition of their faculty, and the balance of socio-economic diversity at their institutions. In addition, the group observed the tension between institutional mission and the market and the importance of “margin” required to meet their mission. Among the conclusions they reached was that modeling and analytics are important to use, but much about the value of the liberal arts and liberal arts colleges remains intangible and hard to measure.
The 2016–2017 ELA cohort began in July. For more information about the program, visit www.cic.edu/ExecutiveLeadershipAcademy.