Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


Institutions of higher learning continue to face many challenges, from declining revenues and increased costs (Fain, 2008) to lack of confidence in their ability to meet the needs of the students and the society they serve (Smith, 2004). At the center of the institution is its CEO: the president. It is in this office and at this person that the buck stops. It is here where decisions are made that will affect the institution and all of its constituencies. As the literal and symbolic leader, the vitality of a given institution is dependent upon the effectiveness of its president (Rhodes, 1998). Yet, it is not uncommon to have hundreds of presidential positions in higher education open in any given year (Alton & Dean, 2002), and institutional governing boards are continually faced with the daunting task of searching for, and selecting, these important leaders.