Rutgers GSE CMSI

The Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions Releases Report on 21st Century College and University Presidents

Contact: Brandy Jones
Telephone: 848-932-0788

New Brunswick, N.J., November 17, 2020-- The Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) is proud to announce the release of a new report that examines the MSI Aspiring Leaders program and explores the journey to becoming 21st century presidents at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The report discusses the pathways to the presidency, strategies for effective mentorship for those aspiring to be MSI presidents, and shares the possible roadblocks to becoming an MSI leader. It also highlights the importance of universities implementing succession planning for presidents by paying close attention to those with potential for senior positions.

The report entitled, “21st Century College and University Presidents,” explores the lessons learned from the MSI Aspiring Leaders program, which was established by CMSI in 2014. The MSI Aspiring Leaders program is funded by the Kresge and ECMC Foundations and brings together current and former MSI presidents to engage with mid-career aspiring leaders from the education, non-profit, and business sectors in an effort to prepare the next generation of MSI presidents. Since its launch, the program has worked with two cohorts consisting of 45 MSI Aspiring Leaders who are roughly 5-8 years out from becoming a college president. The program also offers a valuable research opportunity to better understand the pathways to leadership within MSIs and explores effective mentorship. 

“In order for MSIs to thrive, it is essential that they have innovative and prepared leaders. Our program is focused on giving future MSI presidents practical skills, opportunities, and hands-on mentoring. We have learned immensely from the experiences of the aspiring leaders in the program and this report seeks to share some of what we’ve learned with others,” noted Marybeth Gasman, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair & Distinguished Professor and Executive Director, Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions.  

Of note, although 54% of the aspiring leaders in the program have followed the traditional academic route as part of their pathway to a presidency, 18% hail from student affairs, 26% are from other areas of administration, and 2% are from outside of higher education. The significant representation from student affairs mirrors national trends in the college presidency, but is more pronounced within MSIs, and especially HBCUs.

According to the report, the aspiring leaders feel that they need the most training and mentoring in the areas of fundraising, fiscal management, facilities and asset management, working with faculty, crisis management, and board relations. The aspiring leaders also see the greatest obstacle to obtaining a presidency being a lack of opportunity to gain skills and demonstrate their abilities.

“You have to have courage to be in this kind of role. You have to be a real strong, effective communicator. Your character will speak to everything you do, the decisions you make overall. You have to care, so you have to care not only about the institution, but the students, the faculty, the staff, everybody,” shared an Aspiring Leader. 

In addition to sharing research related to the MSI presidency and the MSI Aspiring Leaders program, the report provides recommendations for those interested in pursuing a presidency at an MSI, for those MSIs interested in grooming future presidents, and for those colleges and universities interested in changing the leadership landscape in higher education.

The report is available for download here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
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