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Starting Strong: How to begin an Effective Presidency


The first 120 days of a new president's term is laying an essential foundation. The steps they take in their first quarter will either set them (and the university) up for a strong career, or hamper—perhaps even sabotage—future success.

Our own Dr. Marylouise Fennell and Dr. Scott D. Miller write:

“It’s when the critical foundation for future success is laid: town-gown relationships are created, and action agendas are outlined. During this “honeymoon” period—often before a president’s official arrival on campus—new CEOs are most vulnerable to missteps, many of which can be prevented.

Because receptivity to innovation can be at its highest at this time, the honeymoon period can also be a favorable time for productive team-building, enhancing campus image, and conducting a comprehensive review of the institution."

They outline six practices for a strong presidency:

1 Hire a third party to negotiate the initial employment agreement.

2 Plan strategic communications with the new campus while being respectful of the sitting president.

3 The Board and the new president should develop a transition plan.

4 The new president should have a detailed discussion with the independent auditors and an assessment of the audit by a financial expert.

5 The Board should authorize an independent, comprehensive institutional review by a national, respected firm.

6 Once in office, the new president should actively participate in national organizations that will provide a support network.

Read their entire discussion in the July/August 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.

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