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American Council on
Chronicle of Higher Education Excerpt
Academic Leader Excerpt
Leading a Small College or University:
A Conversation that Never Ends
Harry L. Peterson
Harry Peterson starts his book with a simple and modest statement:
To succeed in a job you must first understand it. My first goal in this
book is to help you understand the job of president of a college or
university. My second goal is to help you be successful in the job if,
after you understand it, you still want to pursue it. This book is
written for you.
Peterson analyzes the environment of today’s presidency, a time of
declining trust, respect for authority and loss of community. These
conditions require leadership and communication skills. To help
understand the behavior of university members and developing community,
Peterson analyzes the context in which leaders work and uses the current
research on social capital.
Successful presidents of smaller institutions share an understanding of
at least four characteristics, Peterson tells us:
understand the unique characteristics of small colleges and
universities, and take advantage of that smallness.
understand the nature of the job.
Not only will presidents and aspiring presidents find guidance here, but
also those who support and observe their work: department chairs, deans,
vice presidents and board members.
Sponsorship for Harry Peterson's research was
provided by the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary
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