Navigating a New Culture

Note: The July 2016 workshop has been postponed.

The most common path to the presidency of an independent college or university remains through the academic ranks. Increasingly, however, trustees select as presidents candidates from public institutions or with professional backgrounds outside academia altogether. The latter may have never pursued a doctoral degree or served in a faculty position. On the contrary, they may have honed their leadership skills in business, government, nonprofit organizations, the military, or other professions. At the same time, currently serving presidents are choosing women and men from outside the academy for key leadership positions as vice presidents for development, finance, and enrollment, among others.

These appointments, while not always welcomed by the faculty, make sense as the leaders of independent colleges today find themselves having to respond creatively to fiscal, demographic, technological, and cultural challenges to their institutions. However, these new leaders are sometimes expected to have answers to questions they have not yet even identified.  And how new presidents and vice presidents handle the issues they confront early on is critical to their long-term success with both internal and external constituencies.

CIC’s Navigating a New Culture workshop is designed to facilitate better understanding of the distinctive features of independent higher education leadership—in governance; relations with students, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni; finances and business models; fundraising and development; communication with local communities; and the realities of life in a fishbowl. Sessions will focus on the practical concerns and needs of newly appointed presidents and other senior leaders of independent colleges and universities who come from outside the sector, and will be led by current and former CIC presidents who transitioned into their roles from professional experiences largely outside independent higher education. (Read bios.) 

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Current Status

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Application/Nomination Information

The Navigating a New Culture workshop is limited to 20 participants.

CIC invites all member presidents to encourage recently hired senior campus officers with appropriate backgrounds to apply for participation in the workshop. In late winter 2016, CIC will invite newly appointed presidents with appropriate backgrounds themselves to apply. To provide for candid exchange among workshop participants and in consideration of space limitations, trustees or spouses and partners cannot be accommodated. All conversations will be held in strict confidence.

The application consists of: a brief Statement of Interest that addresses how participating in the workshop would benefit the campus and the individual; and a brief Biographical Statement, that establishes relevant professional experiences and the academic background.

The registration deadline for senior campus officers is extended to April 29, 2016.
The registration deadline for newly appointed presidents is extended to April 29, 2016.
CIC will announce the participants by May 1, 2016.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Date and Location

CIC’s Navigating a New Culture Workshop will take place July 28–29, 2016, in Washington, DC, at two locations: The Cosmos Club, located at 2121 Massachusetts Avenue, NW; and the CIC office, located at One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 320. Both locations and the workshop hotel are in close walking distance of each other in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, accessible by public transportation on Metro’s Red Line.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Costs

Thanks to the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation and the American Academic Leadership Institute, the registration fee is only $250, which includes the program, hotel accommodations for one or two nights depending on travel distance, all meals and refreshments, and resource materials. The cost of transportation is not included.

 Contact Information

For program information about the workshop, please contact Sanford J. Ungar, CIC senior advisor for Navigating a New Culture, at or (202) 687-5232.

For logistics information, please contact Vanessa Taylor, CIC conference and program coordinator, at or (202) 466-7230.