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Presidencies Derailed: Why University Leaders Fail and How to Prevent It Hardcover – July 10, 2013
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This book should be read by presidential search committees and purchased by vice presidents worried about their president’s success.(New England Journal of Higher Education)
Individuals concerned for the welfare of their institution should have an awareness of change in leadership and its consequences for the university. Presidencies Derailed is a good resource for those serving on search committees, aspiring presidents, and others interested in leadership transitions. This book certainly offered an overview of many timely, practical examples of derailed presidents.(Review of Higher Education)
A book with relevance far beyond academe.(Harvard Business Review)
The authors provide a thoroughly researched account of career fiascos.(Sara Michael Johns Hopkins University Gazette)
Every derailed presidency has its own story. The risk of failure is high.(Washington Post)
This is one of the best professional books I have ever read.(John Boswell johnboswellblog.com)
Without qualification, this book is and will remain the classic on why university presidents succeed or fail. Not to mention the lessons also apply to all top leadership!(Warren G. Bennis, University of Southern California)
There are few university presidents like Stephen Joel Trachtenberg―at once knowledgeable, creative, commonsensical, likable, and aggressive (indeed, relentless, even outrageous) in the pursuit of institutional uplift and excellence.(Jose A. Cabranes, U.S. Circuit Judge (New York) and trustee of Columbia University, former trustee of Yale University and Colgate University)
From the Back Cover
"We all err," write Trachtenberg, Kauvar, and Bogue. "As academics, we must also believe that we can all learn how to reduce the chance for error. But human beings are endlessly imaginative and will no doubt continue to find new, innovative ways to mess up and also to do well and good."
In this mordant account of why university presidents fail, these authors show us why leadership in higher education is fraught with peril. Relying on first-hand testimonies from "derailed" university presidents, sixteen case studies in four sectors of higher education, and reviews of the scholarly literature on leadership failures in the public and private sectors, this book shows how good presidencies go bad. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Gerald B. Kauvar, and E. Grady Bogue organize, classify, and explain patterns of leadership failures and offer key advice on how institutions, their boards, and their leaders can avoid these acrimonious battles.
Presidencies Derailed provides a menu of best practices designed to forestall, if not prevent, future leadership failures. With incisive commentary drawn on years of insider experience, this book offers clear examples of derailments and precise advice on how to prevent these institutional disasters at research universities, liberal arts colleges, master's level institutions, and even community colleges.|
Presidencies Derailed is the first book to explore in depth why university presidencies fail and how university and college leadership can forestall, if not prevent, future leadership failures. Former university president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, along with professor Gerald B. Kauvar and former chancellor E. Grady Bogue organize, classify, and explain patterns of leadership failures, drawing on firsthand testimonies from "derailed" university presidents, sixteen case studies in four sectors of higher education, and reviews of the scholarly literature on leadership failures in the public and private sectors.
"A book with relevance far beyond academe."― Harvard Business Review
"This book should be read by presidential search committees and purchased by vice presidents worried about their president’s success."― New England Journal of Higher Education
"Every derailed presidency has its own story. The risk of failure is high."― Washington Post
"A good resource for those serving on search committees, aspiring presidents, and others interested in leadership transitions."― Review of Higher Education
"Without qualification, this book is and will remain the classic on why university presidents succeed or fail."―Warren G. Bennis, University of Southern California
Stephen Joel Trachtenberg was a long-serving president of George Washington University and the former president of the University of Hartford. He is the author of Big Man on Campus: A University President Speaks Out on Higher Education, Reflections on Higher Education, and Speaking His Mind: Five Years of Commentary on Higher Education. Gerald B. Kauvar is a research professor of public policy and public administration and the special assistant to the president emeritus at George Washington University. E. Grady Bogue (1935–2013) was the chancellor of Louisiana State University in Shreveport and the coauthor of Quality and Accountability in Higher Education: Improving Policy, Enhancing Performance.
Top Customer Reviews
Chapters apply the results of interviews with various firsthand observers to examine derailments in private and public institutions, community, master's and research levels, in diverse areas of the US. The personal narratives of two presidents are also included. The introductory and concluding chapters provide insightful analysis of attitudes and behaviors that tend to lead to greater or lesser success and identify six primary causes of presidential derailment: ethical lapses, poor interpersonal skills, inability to lead key constituencies, difficulty adapting, failure to meet business objectives, and board shortcomings. Some of these would be impossible to foresee, computerized personality inventories notwithstanding. Change management appears to be one of the most treacherous dynamics for presidents to navigate, as the alumni and some trustees wish to preserve, while others see the need for innovation. Trustees would do well to engage in a thorough self-assessment of the board prior to engaging in any search in order to ensure that they are actually following best practices in their internal dealings and to identify their expectations and the strategic priorities that the new leader must address. Naturally, effective communication on the part of all constituents, but particularly between the board and the president, is key to successful and productive tenures.
My only surprise (and disappointment) is why Trachtenberg refers to one failed president at the University of Hawaii some years back as a victim rather than as a maker of his own demise. For one huge example of misplaced judgment, this short-lived, public university president actually thought it appropriate to publically support one of the candidates then running for governor. (He lost, too.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book for anyone in Higher Education administration.Published 2 months ago by Melody L. Carter
Somewhat interesting but ultimately not very helpful due to anecdotal, impressionistic nature. The overwhelming focus here is on the leader and not on the leadership process writ... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Reader
Everyone in higher education is smart. Most people are extremely smart, at least in some narrow ways. Read morePublished on February 10, 2014 by Sam
We often tend to make some leadership issues more complicated than they need to be. Through a series of examples, Trachtenberg and his co-authors do a nice job illustrating that... Read morePublished on January 11, 2014 by John Prescott
During my career both within academe, as a Professor, and in the federal government, as an administrator, I dealt with Boards of Trustees and with executive leadership. Read morePublished on December 8, 2013 by Ann C. Sheffield
In view of the current litany of uncertainty surrounding the future of American Higher Education, the book "Presidents Derailed" is particularly timely. Read morePublished on November 15, 2013 by A. Graham Down