New Presidents Program

About the Program

CIC’s New Presidents Program, held immediately prior to the annual Presidents Institute, provides the “need to know” tools and the counsel that will keep a young presidency on a smooth course. The agenda includes sessions on financial fundamentals, enrollment and marketing, board relations, building the senior team, institutional advancement, and strategic and innovative presidential leadership among other key topics. The presenters are experienced presidents, many of whom are alumni of the program. There also are opportunities for informal discussions about institutional mission, culture, and work-life balance issues and for meeting others who are new to the office. A program for spouses and partners of recently appointed presidents runs concurrently.

View the 2017 New Presidents Program at the 2017 Presidents Institute site.
New college and university presidents typically have substantial background in only some of the key facets of presidential responsibility. The 24/7 nature of the position, however, offers little opportunity to learn leisurely areas beyond pre-existing expertise. Meanwhile, the first months in the position are both energizing and overwhelming; early opportunities for significant achievement exist, but early missteps also can threaten to derail long-term success.
CIC’s New Presidents Program—the oldest of the programs serving new chief executives—focuses on the practical needs and concerns of the newly elected leaders of independent colleges and universities. Since 1989, more than 900 new presidents have benefited from the program. They often identify some of these features of the program as particularly helpful:
  • All presentations are made by current or recently retired CIC presidents who understand the specific needs of new independent college and university presidents and their spouses and partners. And presenters remain available for subsequent conversations throughout the Presidents Institute and often beyond.
  • The program is intensive and makes efficient use of a new president’s time.
  • Participants take home advice that can be readily implemented.
  • The practical focus is distinct from and complements other programs for new presidents, such as Harvard University’s. And the program focuses exclusively on issues relevant to new independent college and university presidents.
  • Each participant is supported by a seasoned presidential colleague who participates in the program and often continues to serve in an informal advisory capacity. These experienced campus leaders help new presidents successfully negotiate the perils and pitfalls while capitalizing on the opportunities that the first year represents.
  • The program, subsidized by CIC, represents excellent value.
  • The friendships created among the participants often form the basis for a professional network of colleagues with whom new presidents and their spouses or partners can confer about sensitive campus issues.
Mary Pat Seurkamp, CIC senior advisor, who recently completed 15 years of service as president of Notre Dame of Maryland University, directs CIC’s New Presidents Program.

Spouses and Partners

CIC offers a concurrent program for spouses and partners of recently appointed college presidents. The program is led by experienced presidential spouses. It also affords opportunities to form a network among others who are new to the role and to share early experiences.


“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.”
—Ronald L. Carter, President, Johnson C. Smith University

“The CIC New Presidents Program offers a forum for frank conversation about the joys and challenges of the presidency. I appreciated the chance to learn from more experienced presidents and the focus on getting started on firm footing.”
—Marjorie Hass, President, Austin College

“The program for spouses and partners of new presidents definitely was time well spent. 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."
—Kelly T. Knapp, Presidential Spouse, Hope College