And now, a change of pace

For this post, I want to share an interesting article about the challenges of being a college president.  It’s useful, I think, to “zoom out” from time to time and look at issues within higher education as a whole — this provides useful context within which to view changes, trends, and pressures in the admissions arena.

“College Presidents: Bruised, Battered, and Loving It,” by Barry Glassner (president of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR) and Morton Owen Schapiro (president of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL) ran in the Chronicle of Higher Education on February 11 — a link to the full article is below.

As February turns to March, college admissions officers and college counselors are entrenched in our small piece of the process — either reading applications and assembling an incoming class, or doing their best to calm anxious post-application seniors while helping to launch anxious pre-application juniors.  At a time when we’re so focused on the nuts and bolts of admissions, it can be useful to take a short break and consider what’s going on in the wider world of the colleges and universities that our students will enter.

Glassner and Schapiro’s article highlights the pressures facing college and university presidents, which are great indeed.  It’s reassuring that in the face of these challenges, they feel that many college presidents remain dedicated to the mission of student growth and development through the creation of civil, tolerant communities and the advancement of knowledge   I include three excerpts from their article, below, and encourage everyone to follow this link to the full article.

“This is a volatile time for presidents, who are under intense pressure from their boards and the government to modernize rapidly amid a revolution in online learning, information technology, and global education. At the same time, other constituents in the academy hold fast to the longstanding practices of a traditional liberal-arts education.”

“We try our best to make our campuses the most inclusive places in an increasingly divided society, while defending free speech when too often those on both the left and the right think it is only their views that should be tolerated.”

The college presidency is the job of a lifetime, for reasons well beyond the perks and privileges. We get to create and sustain campuses where the learning and maturation of young people is paramount, where great teaching and pathbreaking research can occur. What drives us is the chance to do something meaningful and helpful for our students, faculty, and staff—and even for our society and the world.”