The Tension of Academic Leadership: Experience? No thanks.


Stanley Fish wrote an interesting op-ed in yesterday’s NY Times about the recent decision by CU-Boulder to hire a president with no relevant experience. The article raises interesting issues about who should be leading the university, the political questions involved and what kinds of qualifications university presidents should possess. Fish writes:

In one of those ironies that make life interesting, the University of Colorado, which dismissed controversial professor Ward Churchill because of doubts about his academic qualifications, has appointed a president who doesn’t have any. (The final vote was taken on Feb. 20.)Bruce Benson is an oilman, Republican activist, failed candidate for governor, co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s (now ended) campaign, successful fund raiser, donor to the university, former chairman of the Metropolitan State College Denver Board and chair of a blue-ribbon panel on higher education. Obviously he has a strong interest in education, but his highest degree is a B.A., and he has never been a member of a faculty or engaged in research or published papers in a learned journal. In short, he is no way an academic, and yet he is about become the president of an academic institution, and not any old institution, but a state university ranked 11th among public universities and 34th among universities overall. Continue reading

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