Presidential duties are not all fun and games, and the visible nature of the presidential position is not always so desirable. This volume examines the position of the president during times of great controversy at an institution. Five presidents describe highly charged events on their campuses when constituents disagreed sharply and all were certain that righteousness and virtue were theirs alone. For the president, there was no way to avoid taking a position and no decision that would please, or even appease, all. The presidents describe the episodes on the campuses, explain the decisions they made, and assess their actions retrospectively.
This is the 128th issue of the Jossey–Bass quarterly series New Directions for Higher Education.
1. Leadership, Management, and Governance (Judith Block McLaughlin)
The presidency requires attention to leadership, management, and governance, but these different ways of assessing issues and taking action are not always compatible.
2. Many Faces of Risk: Free Speech Versus Public Safety (Jane L. Jervis)
Students select as their commencement speaker a man on death row for murdering a police officer. Should the president support their choice, given the deep hurt and the threat of violence it represents?
3. Freedom and Controversy on Campus: The Holocaust Questioned (Edward T. Foote II)
When the student newspaper editors tell the president that they intend to publish an advertisement claiming that the Holocaust did not exist, should he overrule their decision?
4. Leading a University During Controversy: Challenges Faced by a New President (Judy Genshaft, Jack Wheat)
Charges of racial discrimination and retribution in the university athletic department arrive on the desk of a brand–new president. How does she manage this controversy in her first months in office?
5. Student Activism at Ithaca College: Reflections on Management and Leadership (Peggy R. Williams, Michael R. McGreevey)
How should the president proceed when student activists occupy a building to protest the college s contract with a new food service provider that has corporate ties to the private prison industry?
6. Miami Redskins: Deciding About a University Nickname (Paul G. Risser)
The decision about whether to keep or to change the university s nickname sparks intense debate and passionate feeling. The president offers two retrospective analyses about how he should have handled this politically charged situation.
Judith Block McLaughlin is educational chair of the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents and director of the Higher Education Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1984.