A president is a catalyst who works with faculty to
create a more effective learning environment. Help the
institution be even more effective in delivering learning and
measuring its impact in ways that improve student outcomes,
boost retention and graduation rates, and prepare students for
success when they leave the university and enter the community. Ensure that you are perceived in your current institution as deeply concerned about learning and ways to more
effectively engage students as learners. Become knowledgeable about how learning is changing and how institutions are
responding to the changing characteristics of students and the
external environment. Gain recognition for your deep commitment to learning in all of its forms and become a champion of its cause.
A president is a spokesperson for the university. More
than half of my time is spent with external constituents,
serving on boards and meeting with donors and alumni. At
a moment’s notice, I may be asked to speak on just about
any topic, and I better be engaging. When you prepare for
informal talks or formal presentations, tell the story of your
division and the difference it is making in students’ lives.
Communicate with passion. When given the opportunity to
attend receptions or dinners on the university’s behalf, engage
others outside your usual circles.
Ron Slepitza is president of Avila University in Kansas City. He was
formerly vice president for student development and special counsel to the
president for strategic planning at Xavier University.
BY DEAN BRESCIANI
I quickly learned that institutional success requires public
enthusiasm and support of higher education. To effectively
articulate and build that support requires sophisticated
communication, public relations, fundraising, and
Does It Fit?
For most senior student affairs leaders, these recommendations
for effectiveness will not sound foreign or daunting. In fact,
for some, they will sound familiar and all in a day’s work. I
have come to appreciate that while the contemporary demands
of a presidency are similar in many ways to the challenges of