A Quantitative Study of the Presidential Search Process and Position Longevity in Community Colleges Page: 1
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The importance and problems of retaining college presidents has been the focus
of consideration for decades. Over 40 years ago, Clark Kerr (1970) attributed high rates
of presidential turnover in higher education to everything from financial woes to
deteriorating relations with college students. Proving that the issue of presidential
longevity is universal as well as persistent, Heinke (2007), in a recent study of
leadership turnover in German universities, found not only that presidential tenure in
Germany was decreasing but also that frequent turnover had a negative impact on
effective leadership and staff morale. Community colleges, often with more tenuous
resources and an increasingly complex environment, are even more exposed to the
vagrancies of leadership change.
Most of the studies on presidential departure, however, start with the president
already in place. These studies concentrate on identifying variables that shorten a
president's tenure rather than identifying strategies that will secure executive leadership
and better address the issues that exist and those that will become problems,
sometimes over night (Dowdall, 2004). Unfortunately, many of the problems identified,
such as changing economic environments (Kerr, 1970), are difficult or impossible to
change in just a few years. A circular interaction is created in which presidents need
time in office to solve an institution's problems but too often those very problems reduce
the president's willingness or ability to stay for the needed length of time. Only the
hiring of executives appropriately equipped to deal with a plethora of problems and the
tenacity and desire to ride out the ups and downs of leading a multifaceted institution
Here’s what’s next.
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Howells, Constance L. A Quantitative Study of the Presidential Search Process and Position Longevity in Community Colleges, dissertation, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103329/m1/9/: accessed February 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .