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College Presidents who are not academics?

CorinthianCorinthian Registered User Posts: 1,771 Senior Member
What do you think about a college president who is not an academic? One of the schools our D19 is considering is Hope College in Holland, MI. While studying the Hope College website I came across an announcement of their new president. He’s a Hope alum but not an academic. He was formerly the chief administrative officer at a global financial services company. I can see the case for a non-academic but it's not the norm. What are your thoughts or experiences about this? https://hope.edu/news/2018/campus-life/matthew-a-scogin-named-14th-president-of-hope-college.html

Replies to: College Presidents who are not academics?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,064 Senior Member
    edited January 4
    Two previous examples of non-academic presidents whose management ended up being very unpopular were Simon Newman at Mount Saint Mary's University and Tim Wolfe at University of Missouri.

    Newman was known for the "bunnies" incident discussed at https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1854265-are-at-risk-students-bunnies-to-be-drowned-p1.html .

    Wolfe had to deal with financial problems, made unpopular funding cuts, and apparently underestimated simmering discontent about various issues until it all blew up at once when triggered by incidents of bigotry.
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 Registered User Posts: 3,762 Senior Member
    Purdue's president is the former governor of Indiana. Most people love him, students included.
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Registered User Posts: 3,088 Senior Member
    To the undergraduate student enrolled, it won't make a bit of difference.
  • TheBigChefTheBigChef Registered User Posts: 301 Member
    After WW2 and before he became POTUS, Eisenhower was president of Columbia.
  • barronsbarrons Registered User Posts: 24,864 Senior Member
    R. E. Lee was President of W & L. :D
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 39,579 Super Moderator
    edited January 4
    Billy Bulger, who was President of the Massachusetts Senate and, more infamously, Whitey Bulger's brother, was President of UMass.
  • ScipioScipio Registered User Posts: 8,735 Senior Member
    Janet Napolitano, the current president of the UC system, is a lawyer by education and a politician by experience and not an academic. Her tenure has had some controversies, but she is apparently an able administrator. I doubt that her lack of academic credentials and experience makes any difference to the vast majority of UC students.
  • moooopmoooop Registered User Posts: 1,993 Senior Member
    I think Youngstown State lowered the bar so far on presidents' backgrounds that pretty much anybody can claim to be qualified for the position.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 37,132 Super Moderator
    MODERATOR'S NOTE: I deleted a few off-topic posts. Please stick to the post's original topic.
  • donnaleighgdonnaleighg Registered User Posts: 1,491 Senior Member
    While it is typical for the president to be an academic, the skill set to be a good college president has almost nothing to do with being a talented academic. So I wouldn't be particularly concerned about it.
  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston Registered User Posts: 14,520 Senior Member
    @skieurope That didn't work out to well for UMass.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 39,579 Super Moderator
    @TomSrOfBoston Yeah. That was my unstated point. :)
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,772 Senior Member
    The new president of the U of Montana is not an academic (though, as a Rhodes scholar, he knows how to talk to them).
  • QuantMechQuantMech Registered User Posts: 7,857 Senior Member
    I believe that the president of Columbia was Milton Eisenhower, the brother of Dwight David Eisenhower. I have heard a story that at one point Milton was worrying about the weather for commencement, and DDE told his brother that he had not worried about the weather since June 5, 1944.

    Some non-academics make fine college presidents. It depends much more on the values and priorities of the person, as opposed to previous professional experiences. It is very helpful to have someone who is willing to learn, and does not come in with a lot of baggage in terms of incorrect assumptions about the nature of a faculty position. The president has a fairly strong influence on the allocation of resources within a college. So the way that the president sets priorities matters.

    I personally would not worry about a non-academic president of Hope College. But of course, I could be wrong. :)
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 5,449 Senior Member
    Great choice for Hope College. Sure to raise lots of money.

    Although I cannot remember his name, the special prosecutor in the Bill Clinton impeachment was rewarded with the position as President of Pepperdine University.
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