Monday, April 13, 2015

13 Years of a College Presidency

The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 6th, 2015


There are actually dozens of mountains near Pitzer College, often obscured in haze — a fitting metaphor for the feelings of a newly minted college president. Thirteen years ago, in my first year as president, I was sure that the fastest moving thing on campus was my pulse, fueled by a stinging concoction of fear, anxiety, excitement, optimism, and fear. Did I mention fear? "Please don’t let me be the one to. …" Fill in the blank: melt down, ruin the college, get a vote of no confidence, underperform, embarrass myself. My new mantra became "do no harm."
If you become a college president, you will not sleep. You will worry endlessly, tossing and turning in the wee hours: students climbing on rooftops and drinking and fighting and much worse; misbehaving administrators; faculty insurrection; construction projects off track and unfinished; the annual-fund goal; and finding the time to make an appointment to get your teeth cleaned. But you will never have time for your teeth or for regular exercise or cooking or for keeping family photo albums. You keep lists upon lists, none completed.

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