The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) has issued the latest in its periodic reviews of the state of the college/university presidency, The 21st-Century Presidency: A Call to Enterprise Leadership. Drawn from interviews with more than 100 college, university, and system chief executive officers as well as a survey of AGB member board chairs, the report provides a compelling discussion of the complex challenges facing today’s leaders, heightening the imperative for a new collaborative relationship between governing boards and presidents.
The report is written by AGB Senior Fellow Terrence “Terry” MacTaggart, an experienced leader and scholar in higher education and a former chancellor of university systems in both Minnesota and Maine. The report focuses on the concept of “enterprise leadership,” a recognition that today’s presidency and institutional leadership must recognize that pressures on the business model, coupled with the daily challenges of social media, have the sector shifting in response to public demands—and that leadership must focus on the overall volatility of the sector, where social media has as much to do with the daily work of a president as advancing a well thought out strategic plan. Despite such difficulties, the paper also asserts that presidents must lead the conversation about a changing business model to keep up with this ever-changing business environment.
“The work of the contemporary American college and university president is much more challenging than at any time in the modern era,” said AGB President Richard D. Legon. “There are powerful forces roiling higher education and the broader society and today’s college and university leaders are at the center of this maelstrom. Their work is more difficult and stressful— but also never more important. Several recent reports on the presidency have noted these challenges—though only this new AGB report focuses on the mutual leadership expectations between boards and presidents in this time of change.”
“Enterprise leadership means the vigorous exercise of authority in guiding an institution through a comprehensive adaptive process that positions it to prosper in a competitive, fast changing environment,” said MacTaggart. “Effective enterprise leaders of colleges and universities engage the academic community in the change process. They work actively with their governing board as trusted partners in developing strategies to strengthen the institution’s financial base, its academic quality and effectiveness, and its reputation for value to students and society.”
A full copy of the paper, The 21st-Century Presidency: A Call to Enterprise Leadership, is available here.