Faculty Demand a New Type of University President

Remaking the University 2013-03-16

By Hannah TompkinsFor some time now, educational "reformers" have been demanding a new type of university and college president.  As we saw last spring at Virginia this demand often means a president who aims to impose a vision on his institution rather than leading through more consensual means.  Modeled too often on the idea of the ruthless corporate or financial leader, the Presidents who would meet this demand would be centralizers, determined to bring staff and faculty to heel in order to align the activities of a university or college with the wishes of economic and political elites. There has been, on the other hand, little in the way of Faculty re-imagining of the role of the university or college president.  It is true that faculty critics have pointed to the growth in administration and inequality within higher education.  But we have done less in terms of proposing new approaches to leading higher education institutions in a period of great challenge. Interestingly, the CUCFA at UC and the AAUP at NYU have recently stepped forward to start filling that gap.  Although both respond to local circumstances--CUCFA the search for Mark Yudof's replacement, and NYU AAUP John Sexton's vision of a his own academic Xanadu--they each demand a new perspective of president's and are well worth reading beyond their local implications. You can find the CUCFA letter here.  The NYU AAUP Letter can be found here.