III. Building Blocks and Positioning

Chapter 12. Passing the Baton

Dr. Ed Ray

Chapter Overview

Virtually every day, one can read about a president or chancellor who just remembered at age sixty-three that he or she wants to spend more time with the family and resigns unexpectedly. What is the anatomy of failed leadership in higher education? Abrupt departures are not always the making of leaders, but there are a number of traps that every leader should be aware of and avoid. On a more positive note, what are the circumstances under which an established, and even strongly supported, leader should step down? How can he or she prepare the way for the success of the next leader?

  • Setting the table for your successor and exiting without a lot of drama.

While college and university presidents rarely remain in place for more than six years, changing the culture, direction, impact, and quality of an institution can require much more time. What can leaders do to set the stage for continued progress after they have left? How do you know that it is time to go and how can you leave gracefully?

  • The anatomy of failed higher education leadership.

There are numerous reasons why presidents are not successful in their tenure as academic leaders and exit less gracefully than they hoped would be the case. Yet there are a number of mistakes that are common to many failed presidencies, and it would be helpful to know where the dangers emanate from. What are common causes of failed presidencies?

About the author


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A Handbook of Higher Education Leadership Copyright © 2024 by Dr. Ed Ray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.