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What New Presidents Need to Know (Chapter 2)

It was fun for me to walk down memory lane and look at the things that I jotted down--and sometimes talked publicly about--as I was leaving the Denison presidency. It's been helpful to dust some of them off as I carry on in the interim president role at Southwestern.

1) Understand that to a considerable extent, you work for the next president(s) and through them for the next generation of students and the next cohort of faculty. Your accomplishments will not all be realized--much less recognized--during your tenure. You are setting up your institution and your successors for decades to come. Take the long view.

2) Colleges and universities are full of bright people with good ideas. College leadership is much less about choosing between good ideas and bad ideas than about selecting among good options. But, resources being finite, you have to choose. Be sure to let the "losers" know that theirs were good ideas, too.

3) You must have broad shoulders. Sometimes, you have to step forward to take criticism of the institution or some of its constituents upon yourself, even if you are not directly responsible. Having either a thick skin or a short memory helps you get through this.

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