Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission 7/14/2019 7/14/2019 7/14/20197/17/20197/17/20197/17/2019 Woodstock, VT
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About the Program

CIC’s Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission is a seminar-based program that seeks to help prospective college and university presidents—and their spouses or partners—clarify their sense of vocation, or the purpose of their life and work, and weigh it in the context of the missions of institutions they might lead in the future. Through a series of structured conversations, participants explore the ways that greater understanding and alignment of personal vocation and institutional mission can contribute to effective presidential leadership. The program, funded by a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., will include up to 20 participants and their spouses or partners.

The Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission program seeks to increase the commitment across American higher education to vocation and mission as fundamentally linked concepts for building and sustaining successful presidencies in independent colleges and universities. The program rests on two premises:
  • Presidential leadership is strengthened by a congruence of institutional mission and presidential vocation; and
  • Carefully structured opportunities for reflection and dialogue can help potential presidents, along with their spouses or partners, envision their prospective roles.

PDFRead more about the program, topics and readings, and leadership. Opens in new window

It is remarkable to think how much we accomplished in such a short time. The meeting helped me crystalize and further my thinking in conjunction with my spouse and the other participants. The community of participants is a great resource.”
—Susan Agre-Kippenhan, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Linfield College

Why have such a program?

Even the most successful presidents often note wistfully the lack of balance between their professional and personal lives. The alignment of vocation—a sense of calling or purpose—and mission presented in this program offers an alternative to “balance.” All too often, presidencies are cut short by a misalignment between personal vocation and institutional mission. For example, imagine a highly participatory campus culture in which a “visionary” president makes insightful but unilateral pronouncements on what needs to change as if operating in a vacuum. Or consider a troubled college steeped in tradition with a reforming president who was charged by the board of trustees to make major changes without regard for the institution’s heritage.

“Alignment” is not to be confused with “identical” or even “profoundly alike.” Some presidents of religiously affiliated colleges whose personal faith tradition differs from those of the institution have achieved long tenure and wide acclaim because they adopted the cause of the college that selected them. Many institutions have been carefully led to revise their missions and structures by thoughtful presidents who understood future needs while respecting past traditions. Alignment is about personal and educational purpose, the relationship between belief and reason, shared values, and the nature of the learning community.

This program aims to help those likely to be future presidents achieve great things for their institutions and avoid being “the right person in the wrong place.” Although occasionally participants determine that their calling is not to a presidency, a remarkable 35 percent of past participants have become college presidents.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Current Status 1

Twenty participants from independent colleges and universities were selected for the program, which is intended for senior administrators—and their spouses and partners—who are considering whether to seek a presidency.

The Summer Seminar was held at the Woodstock Inn & Resort on July 8–11, 2018, in Woodstock, Vermont. The Winter Seminar will be held February 25–26, 2019, at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta, GA.

PDFDownload the 2018–2019 brochure. Opens in new window

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Current Status 2

​Up to 20 participants from independent colleges and universities will be selected for the program, which is intended for senior administrators—and their spouses and partners—who are considering whether to seek a presidency.

Selection of participants will be announced by Monday, March 13, 2017.

Nomination Information for 2019–2020

Senior administrators of CIC member institutions are eligible to be nominated. Presidents who wish to nominate one of their current senior administrators for participation in the 2019–2020 Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission program are asked to submit a nomination packet online by February 7, 2019. Details about the program and nomination guidelines are available in the brochure.

Selection of participants will be announced by March 11, 2019.

To submit a nomination online, please refer to the brochure and nomination form:

I loved the variety of readings and the diversity of attendees. Each of us brought different skills, experiences, talents, and perspectives. It highlighted the variety and value of the independent college network.”
—Harry Dumay, President of Elms College and former Vice President for Finance, Saint Anselm College

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Nomination Information

​Senior administrators of CIC member institutions are eligible to be nominated. Presidents who wish to nominate a member of their senior leadership team for participation in the 2018–2019 Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission program are asked to submit a nomination packet online by February 8, 2018. Details about the program and nomination guidelines are available in the brochure.

Locations and Expenses

The Summer Seminar will be held at the Woodstock Inn & Resort on July 14–17, 2019, in Woodstock, Vermont. The Winter Seminar will be held February 24–25, 2020, at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta, GA.

Thanks to a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., most expenses, including travel stipends for both the Summer and Winter Seminars as well as lodging, meals, consultations, and materials during the program, will be covered by CIC for participants and their spouses or partners. There is a one-time registration fee of $400 for the prospective president and $250 for an accompanying spouse or partner due upon acceptance into the program.

Contact Information

Fred Ohles, CIC senior advisor and president of Nebraska Wesleyan University, is leading this project. Nominators and prospective participants can direct questions about the program to Harold V. Hartley III, CIC senior vice president, by phone at (202) 466-7230 or email at hhartley@cic.nche.edu, or to Fred Ohles, by email at fohles@cic.nche.edu.

Status for 2018–2019

Twenty participants from independent colleges and universities were selected for the program, which is intended for senior administrators—and their spouses and partners—who are considering whether to seek a presidency.

The Summer Seminar was held at the Woodstock Inn & Resort on July 8–11, 2018, in Woodstock, Vermont. The Winter Seminar will be held February 25–26, 2019, at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta, GA.

PDFDownload the 2018–2019 brochure. Opens in new window