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In this collection of interviews, presidents and chancellors of some of America's most respected universities candidly reflect on their experiences during the decade leading up to the twenty-first century and immediately following it. This was a time of change and uncertainty, when opportunities for achievement and potential for failure made their role uncommonly challenging, and success called for considerable determination, integrity, foresight, skill, and courage.
The American higher education system, often characterized as the best in the world, is distinguished for its scholarship as well as its accessibility. Its indispensable role as an engine for individual and societal economic advancement has made universities the targets of media interest, critical examination, and political manipulation. Higher education has become the passport to the American dream, and the percentage of those going to college has increased, challenging individual institutions and systems to accommodate growing numbers of aspiring students while searching for solutions to problems of inadequate college preparation and inadequate financial assistance for low-income students. Despite their increasing importance to the nation, the region, and their communities, public and private universities have seen states reduce their support to their state systems of higher education, shifting the responsibility to individuals and institutions.
Leadership in Higher Education traces the careers of thirteen women and men who have presided over a total of twenty universities or university systems and three national organizations of higher education: Robert Berdahl, Myles Brand, Molly Corbett Broad, John T. Casteen III, Mary Sue Coleman, Norman C. Francis, Nils Hasselmo, Shirley Ann Jackson, Shirley Strum Kenny, William English Kirwan, Francis L. Lawrence, Charles M. Vest, and David Ward.
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Francis L. Lawrence, president emeritus of Rutgers University, conducted and compiled these interviews. He taught leadership classes in the university's New Brunswick School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies and its Camden Honors Program. He was also the author and editor of works of literary criticism and, recently, of articles on topics in higher education.Review:
"Fran Lawrence is a highly respected and well connected leader of American higher education. The candor he elicits in the interviews with university presidents contained in this book is remarkable. His own insights reflect a wealth of experience and deeply held values. Rarely have the practical experiences of so many leaders and leadership theory been so thoughtfully blended. This book is a must read for both aspiring and serving college and university presidents."
-- David Hardesty, President, West Virginia University
"Leadership in Higher Education: Views from the Presidency by Fran Lawrence is not just a book for academics: it's for anyone interested in leadership in complex organizations. It will be especially helpful to anyone who wanted to learn how to inspire and motivate very bright, creative, self-directed people, no easy task as many business leaders have learned. The stories of thirteen leaders of some of America's best universities offer excellent models for the management of knowledge workers, a while new area of business skill with many difficult passages and dangerous pitfalls for the traditional CEO."
-- David Stern, Comissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA)
"These conversations open a fascinating perspective on the backgrounds and characters of several highly regarded university presidents. The interviews give a good sense of their disparate approaches to the job and the challenges they faced--both challenges that were common to almost everyone and those that were distinctive in each case. The book demonstrates that a variety of strategies can lead to success in these complex and demanding jobs, and also sheds light on more general issues of leadership in higher education."
-- Nannerl O. Keohane, President Emerita, Duke University
"Leadership in Higher Education is an unusual and rare book. It allows readers to hear distinguished leaders using their own voices and offering their thoughts about critical issues confronting the nation's colleges and universities. It also brings to light many of the personal dimensions and professional qualities of these distinguished higher education leaders."
-- L. Jay Lemons, NASPA Journal
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