that concern is alleviated. I did not view my background as a
liability, but I know others did. The only way to work through
that skepticism is to demonstrate your effectiveness in the role
In working through governance issues with faculty, they
learned that I respected their roles and listened to them. They
realized that I could understand their academic issues and
make fair and reasonable decisions.
Q: How have your presidency experiences differed at Indiana
University and California State University, Fresno?
A: California State University, Fresno, is a much more complex institution with a larger breadth of programs, including a
School of Agriculture and School of Engineering. It is a much
larger institution with Division I athletics, which is a big difference from IUP.
Presidents have a lot more on their plates today, and the
world has also changed since I was at IUP. We are dealing
with fewer resources and still trying to develop effective academic programs.
Q: What is the president’s role in seeking additional resources?
A: The emphasis on fundraising is much greater today. It certainly helps to have a strong vice president for development.
I learned fundraising by getting out there and doing it. You
survive when told no, celebrate when told yes, and acquire
some skills along the way.
Q: How did you learn to deal with governing and/or
A: At IUP, I worked more closely with a local board of trustees. California has one large board for its system of 23 campuses. If you have a local board or one that is responsible for
your particular campus, it is critical to build relationships and
work closely with the board chair, who can help you plan and
set priorities. Your relationship with your board is a number
one priority. In a system with one board, you follow the lead
of the chancellor.
Q: How can SSAOs get on track for a presidency?
A: Get widely involved in your university and make yourself
valuable to your institution. Those are the most effective ways
to gain the experience to move into a presidency. It gives you
a much broader perspective than the narrow lens of student
affairs. In the student affairs role, if you can take the wider
view, it will position you much better. Participate in committees, interact with the president, and serve on the presidential
cabinet if possible.
Q: How can SSAOs best handle the interview process for
A: Don’t sell yourself short. Be as prepared as possible, and
get to know the institution where you are interviewing. Don’t
go into an interview with a list of preconceived programs that
you would establish at the institution. It is very important to
first develop an understanding of the institution. Do not try
to transplant programs you have found successful at other
Q: What are the most important qualities for a president?
A: You must have a vision of what you want to accomplish
and be able to paint that vision. You need a great deal of stamina and must possess the ability to build trust with colleagues,
staff, and students. If you like a dynamic environment where
nothing is stable, a presidency can be fun, but don’t forget to
maintain a sense of humor. If you take yourself too seriously,
you will probably end up in trouble. LE
John Welty is president of California State University, Fresno, and former
president of Indiana University in Pennsylvania, where he served as vice
president for student and university affairs.
Edited by Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy and
Shannon E. Ellis
sSAOs seeking to increase their effectiveness as campus and community leaders can gain new strategies to achieve exceptionally effective leadership in NASPA’s new
Success. the book challenges the long-held assumption that the only route to a
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List Price: $39.95 NASPA Member Price: $34.95
To order your copy, visit the NASPA Bookstore online at
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aCe Fellows Program
since 1965, hundreds of vice presidents, deans, depart- ment chairs, faculty, and other emerging leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program, the nation’s premier higher education leadership development
program in preparing senior leaders to serve American
colleges and universities. ACE Fellows spend an extended
period of time on another campus, working directly
with presidents. this unique program condenses years
of on-the-job experience and skills development into a
single year. For information about the ACE Fellows
Program or to speak to a staff person, please contact:
Sharon A. mcDade, director, at email@example.com.
edu or Andrea Warren Hamos, associate director, at